The Mister Freedom® MEDALIST is our take on the iconic American SWEATSHIRT (or “sweat shirt”, “sweat-shirt”, the top part of a “sweat suit” or “training suit”… just don’t call them “sweaters”). We’ve been working on this one for a while, as plenty of contemporary options already exist and we wanted to make sure that our version be classic yet special.
First, if you get asked on Jeopardy and your friend Bob can’t get to the phone, sweatshirt material consists of a single knit fabric, with a flat texture jersey on the face (outside), and a French Terry reverse with loops mechanically shredded/brushed into a soft fleece pile (inside). It has been the fabric of choice for warm-up athletic gear for about a century.
Classic vintage sweatshirts (~ pre-1970s) are usually cut from tubular fleeced jersey, meaning the sock-like cylinder body has no side seams.
With roots in the 1920s, modern tubular fleece has been produced since the 1950s on elaborate single-jersey circular knitting machines, puzzling pieces of engineering resembling the 1969 Apollo LEM, and, I suppose, about as equally easy to operate and maintain.
Using this knitting technology, and due to the cylinder shape and fixed circumference of the finished material, several machines and tedious set-ups are required to produce different sizes of the same tubular sweatshirt fabric. Meaning, the body of a size Small tubular sweatshirt is knitted on a different machine than the Medium. This doesn’t help with cost of production, but vintage clothing purists will appreciate the seamless tube body.
To add to the challenge of milling this special fleece fabric, we also insisted that our waistband ribbing be tubular, without the joining side seam typical of modern fashion sweatshirts. We also were set on a special “5×1 needle-out” type of ribbing, a cool feature of certain rare and desirable vintage 1940s-50s specimen. With this tall order, we sent our friends at Toyo Enterprise on a double wild-goose chase, and, as always, they sourced-out not only the perfect tubular fleece, but managed to mill the special needle-out tubular ribbing.
For the design and construction of our MEDALIST, we wanted to stay away from anything contemporary. So we scrutinized and dissected several vintage specimen collected over the years, studied classic proportions and cuts, found inspiration in period silhouettes from old photos and athletic goods 1930s-1960s catalogs, tested prototypes with traditional stitching options… and basically came up with a very old-school looking winner, the MF® MEDALIST!
Pattern-wise, one of the key point for us was the “drop shoulder” look. Modern sweatshirts and even contemporary vintage replicas tend to prefer an updated non-slouching shoulder seam, for a “more tailored” look. The drop shoulder cut may be an acquired taste, like the leg twist on a pair of old Levi’s for instance, but we went for the “anti-fit” cut of authentic 1940s-50s vintage sweatshirts.
Regarding the double neck insert detail, scoring a “double V” sweatshirts in my 1990s rag-picking days always meant bingo! Double Vs were to vintage sweats what XXs were to vintage Levi’s, an extra $500+ at the flea market.
Initially intended as a stretch gusset on the neck band so that the pull-over warm-up shirt (made of wool in the early days) would fit over, say, a football helmet, the “V” was a good substitute to a ½ zipper. Our MEDALIST 40s-style double Vs are of the “functioning” type, as they actually are double-layer stretchy ribbing inserts, and not just the decorative V-shaped flat lock stitching typical of later productions of sweatshirts. Many “V”s on contemporary sweats are also purely decorative.
On that note, some of you may remember that, during a 2010 interview with Valet Magazine, yours truly asserted that the “V”s on sweatshirts were originally designed to, wait for it, sponge-up sweat. An opinion, as they say, is the perfect compromise between knowledge and ignorance.
Online Valet Magazine, April 2010, and 2017 Sponge Bob IG post.
Another feature of our MEDALIST is the underarm expansion gusset, a detail and intricate construction challenge lifted from a rare 1950s vintage sweat from our archives. Like the double Vs, these arms gussets are also double-layer inserts of needle-out rib.
Anyone familiar with vintage sweats knows of the common sleeves-are-too-short issue, the result of excessive shrinkage and improper shrink tests from the maker. McQueen was a specialist at quickly solving that problem, on and off screen, and is probably responsible for a few chopped-off vintage sweats out there!
SMcQ, 1963 (John Dominis, courtesy GETTY IMAGES)
This is one of the liberties we took with “authenticity”, as we carefully balanced the drop of the shoulder seam, calculated optimal sleeve length while considering the extra-long (foldable) ribbed cuffs, factored-in fabric shrinkage, adjusted sleeve width… to achieve a proper post-wash fit that will work for most.
As a touch of modern practicability, we mounted a back pocket to the MEDALIST rear panel, with an original flat-lock construction “sandwiched” in the waistband. This discreet storage will come handy when cycling, to carry a smart phone or small bidon without obstructing the front of the shirt. Just avoid using it for your phone or wallet while riding the metro in Paris…
We are introducing the MEDALIST in six original yet classic color options. The heather grey is yarn-dyed, a much darker shade than the traditional “silver” heather grey of Champion® sweats, a fleece color characteristic of some older athletic collectibles. The Arctic White model features contrasting oatmeal heather grey ribbing trims, for an attractive subtle two-tone effect.
The Scarlet Red, “UCLA” Blue, Gold Yellow and “Nam” Olive Green MEDALISTS will fade over time with normal wash/wear routine and sun exposure, just like your favorite butter-soft sun-bleached vintage sweatshirt. For reference, we included some naturally-faded prototypes in the photos above.
Pair it with blue jeans, khaki chinos, piques… for the gym, the beach or to lounge around at home, our MEDALIST is versatile, comfortable, functional, ethically-produced… and just ridiculously good looking!
The MF® MEDALIST Crewneck Sweatshirt, in all-cotton tubular fleeced jersey, is designed by Mister Freedom® in California, USA, and produced in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
SPECS: FABRIC: Heavy weight 12 Oz. 100% cotton tubular fleeced jersey knit, soft brushed pile back for warmth and absorbency. Milled in Japan. Color options:
a) Yarn-dyed Heather Grey.
b) Arctic White with contrast oatmeal needle-out ribbing.
c) UCLA Blue.
d) Scarlet Red.
e) Gold Yellow.
f) “Nam” Olive Green.
DETAILS: * An original mfsc pattern inspired by vintage 1940s-50s classic American sweatshirts and period athletic wear.
* Tubular body (no side seams).
* “Drop shoulder” pattern.
* Fancy all-cotton 1×5 needle-out ribbing waistband, cuffs, neckband and gussets.
* Double “V” neck inserts, dual layers of stretchy ribbed knit.
* Vintage-style extra-long waistband and cuffs.
* Underarm expansion gussets.
* Rear panel smartphone or bidon pocket.
* Four-needle flat lock stitching construction. * Original mfsc “PODIUM” rayon woven label. * Made in Japan
SIZING/FIT: The MF® MEDALIST Sweatshirt comes pre-rinsed (i.e. pre-shrunk), and is ready-to-wear. No need for any initial soaking process.
All different color options fit the same.
Depending on your own personal style, preference of silhouette, body type, and whether you’re going old-school vintage or contemporary streetwear, the size that will work for you is subjective.
I opted for a size SMALL in all color options, for a shorter “period” look, matching one’s natural waist rather than covering the back pockets of jeans. Just a personal preference for the vintage vibe. I am 5’7 / 145 lbs.
Low maintenance garment. Launder when needed. Machine wash, normal cycle, cold water, mild eco-friendly detergent. Tumble dry or lay flat to dry on clean towel.
This one comes straight out of classic Americana athletic wear. The Mister Freedom® PODIUM jacket takes its cues from vintage 1940s-60s award/letterman/baseball/varsity/club/warm-up jackets. Our interpretation features the expected traditional waist-length style, rib knit waistband/cuffs/stand-up collar, and a raglan sleeve pattern.
We opted for a 1950s-style traditional 50% rayon/50% cotton shell (rayon side out, mid-luster), backed with a fancy cotton flannel body lining and traditional cotton “kasha” sleeve lining.
As a footnote, we had initially developed that gem of a printed plaid flannel fabric – replicated from a 1940s garment – to use as mfsc shirting. During R&D, we thought it complimented our PODIUM jacket so well that we used it for the project as a killer lining. Only you will know, but that’s who matters.
We left our PODIUM jacket un-branded on the outside, no back embroidery, chest logo or anything, and left it up to the wearer. We believe the solid version is plenty, but if so-inclined, reach out to the many talented custom chainstitch artisans out there, or patch your jacket up with the high school chenille letter of your choice etc… The bay is a fun source for NOS letterman letters, if you’re looking for your initials.
What we spent time on however, is the specific “heather” rib knit. This type of athletic stripe “melange” ribbing can be found on some of the most desirable vintage club jackets out there, mostly pre-1960s specimen. Thinking production of heather ribbing might only be a thing of the past, we sent a few vintage samples to our friends at Toyo Enterprise for reference anyways, crossing fingers. As expected, such athletic knit ribs were not commercially available from manufacturers, but after some challenging R&D, Toyo’s textile experts managed to get our color combinations custom-milled. And they nailed it! This special ribbing is old-school too, 100% soft wool, unlike the polyester/polyurethane blend of contemporary sport gear.
For the front closure, we opted for mfsc painted metal snaps, a bit more practical for sports than 1940s-style buttons. The hi-luster rayon contrast arm inserts and soutache (braided piping), along with the contrasting pocket trims, all ad to the vintage sporty vibe.
Whether you’re feeling all Stanley “Streetcar” Kowalsky, 1950s street gang hoodlum, in a Wanderers or “Electric Eliminators” Warriors kinda mood… or simply on an old-school kick for vintage athletic wear for the gym, our PODIUM jacket got your back, Jack!
The MF® PODIUM Jacket in rayon/cotton satin is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
SPECS: PATTERN: Inspired by classic Americana athletic wear, and vintage 1940s-60s award/letterman/baseball/varsity/club/warm-up jackets.
FABRIC: Vintage-style traditional athletic wear grade 50% rayon/50% cotton shell (rayon side out, mid-luster, mid weight), milled in Japan. Body Lining: 1940s-50s-style 100% cotton printed flannel, soft hand, milled in Japan. Sleeves Lining: traditional all-cotton kasha.
DETAILS: * An original MF® reimagined award/club jacket. * Traditional waist-length style.
* Raglan sleeve patern.
* Rib knit waistband/cuffs/stand-up collar, special 1930s-40s style stripe “heather” ribbing, soft 100% wool.
* Hi-luster rayon contrast arm inserts and soutache.
* Contrast rayon pocket trims and soutache.
* Painted metal snaps for front closure, mfsc branded.
* No ornamentation, ready for DIY customization.
* Original mfsc “PODIUM” rayon woven label.
* Made in Japan
The PODIUM Satin Jacket does not require an initial process. It comes ready-to-wear, as it is DRY-CLEAN only.
I opted for a MEDIUM for an old-school award jacket fit, trim and higher on the waist than contemporary fashion pieces. I am about 5’7 / 145 lbs and navigate between SMALL and MEDIUM in mfsc jackets.
According to your built, you may consider sizing up especially if planning on layering with bulky garments (hooded sweats etc…)
Professional DRY CLEAN only, eco-friendly facility.
For FW2021, we are venturing into the world of vintage athletic wear with a colorful collection entitled PODIUM, the latest seasonal chapter of our long-standing collaboration with our friends at Sugar Cane Co (Toyo Enterprise).
Drawing inspiration from old school 1940s to 1980s activewear, from classic Track & Field uniforms and old-school PE (Physical education) gear or casual gym clothes, we blended timeless American and European influences in the Mister Freedom® mixer, and designed a no-nonsense selection of versatile sports-related gear. Taking the usual liberties with period fashions and fits, yet sticking to timeless aesthetics for authenticity, the eclectic styles in our PODIUM line-up will easily incorporate into any classic “heritage” wardrobe or gym locker. Practical and durable vintage-inspired gear for working out, or simply hanging out.
Our MERCURY Jacket draws its inspiration from the dynamic world of 70s-80s running clothes, vintage hi-tech “windsuits” and casual active sportswear. Check out old copies of Runner’s World Magazine ads for reference.
Light weight, unlined body, two-tone panelling and raglan sleeves, ventilation back yoke with athletic “shimmel” mesh shoulder lining for air circulation, 70s style plastic zippers with colorful tape, zip-up high collar, practical adjustable snap cuffs… all blend-in for an old school running jacket style, the MF® MERCURY.
Regarding our choice of moniker, wing-capped Mercury was messenger of the gods in roman mythology, recalling the wing-footed messenger god Hermes of Greek mythology. See Champion’s “running man” 1940s-50s early labels for a similar reference.
For the body material, we decided to go vintage high-tech performance, and opted for genuine all-weather Ventile®. There are different kinds and ours is produced under licensing by Daiwabo Co in Japan. Much has been written and discussed about Ventile® (its British origin sometime between the late 1930s and mid 1950s, depending on when you start the clock), the trademark saga of the brand, its technical evolution through the years etc.., and the disputed eco-friendliness of the fabric (read WDD Nick interesting article and comment section here.)
The official pitch for Japan-made Daiwabo Co Ventile® reads “super-high density 100% cotton fabric with great moisture permeability and waterproof property”. Apparently, the fabric prevents water from getting through (once the yarns are soaked and expend), yet allows sweat to evaporate… Don’t ask me, I just work here.
See Google-translated Ventile® tech notes on Daiwabo’s paper tags below:
Ventile® all-weather cotton fabric milled by Daiwabo, Japan.
The claim is this fabric is “weatherproof” rather than waterproof (will withstand light rain but is not fully waterproof), yet windproof, and with good breathability.
What we do know is that our MERCURY and its single layer of Ventile® will keep you dry for a while, should you decide to spray yourself with a garden hose in the privacy of your backyard.
Besides this outstanding performance, our Ventile® is a mid-weight fabric (about 7 Oz.), has a crispy dry hand similar to traditional tightly-woven 100% cotton poplins, and is ridiculously good-looking. It works perfectly as body material for our purpose, a vintage-inspired windbreaker or running jacket.
Regarding sustainability, Ventile®’s eco-friendliness can be debated at length, but I believe that a garment ethically-produced in small batches, made to last both in style and quality ( =meant to be worn for years without falling apart and/or being fashionably obsolete), is worth its initial carbon footprint. Sure beats any mass-produced piece of fast-fashion, however green-washed it is in corporate sustainability and deceiving ad campaigns boasting being “recyclable” or cut from “organic” fabric, and destined for landfills from inception.
Anyways, we also opted for clean seams inside and out, so the MF® MERCURY features flat-felled (chainstitch) construction throughout, not the common overlocked seams.
Our choice of recurring visible branding throughout the PODIUM collection is the discreet signature maritime signal flags logo, previously-designed for the Marina Shirt as a chest patch. Absolutely no reference to the flag of Scotland, the diagonal white cross on blue background pennant is international naval code for Mike, the letter “M”, and the red diamond on white background is Foxtrot, the letter “F”.
The MF® MERCURY Running Jacket is designed in California and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co, made from genuine Ventile® fabric milled in Japan.
Genuine Ventile® all-weather fabric, super-high density 100% cotton, about 7 Oz., water-resistant (not waterproof), windproof, breathable. Light weight, dry hand. Milled in Japan.
Color combo options:
a) Arctic white x Navy Blue (with red mesh)
b) Olive Green x Navy Blue (with orange mesh)
DETAILS: * Original mfsc design inspired by vintage high-tech 70s-80s active wear and running clothes.
* Unlined, streamlined.
* Water-resistant and windproof.
* Raglan sleeves.
* Two-tone contrast paneling.
* Vented back yoke with partial mesh lining for air circulation.
* Full zip front closure, 1970s-style plastic zipper with contrasting tape and swivel pulls.
* Zip-up high collar for throat protection, with zipper pull cover.
* Two lower pockets, zip closure.
* Adjustable snap cuffs, original mfsc-branded metal painted snaps.
* Flat-felled (chainstitch) construction throughout.
* Original mfsc “Podium” woven rayon label.
* Designed in USA, made in Japan.
SIZING/FIT: The MERCURY Jacket comes raw (unwashed) and is ready-to-wear without any pre-treatment.
This jacket is considered true-to-size. I opted for my usual size in mfsc jacket, 38 (Medium). I’m about 5’7 , 145 lbs.
CARE: The Ventile® fabric Japanese manufacturer Daiwabo recommends dry-cleaning (eco-friendly facility) when possible.
Alternatively, spot clean: brush off/sponge off dirt, sand and mud.
If full cleaning is necessary, and dry-cleaning impractical, machine wash on delicate: turn garment inside out, warm water, pure liquid soap (no harsh synthetic detergent, no bleach etc), rinse thoroughly (until all soap residue is removed).
Shape on hanger and hang dry.
Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Co FW2021 mfsc “PODIUM”
Hope this finds you well, healthy, and in good spirits.
This is a preview of the FW2021 Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane (mfsc) collaboration. Two groupings, a theme-based capsule collection titled “PODIUM“, followed by additions to our classic SPORTSMAN and SURPLUS catalogs.
Our winter “PODIUM” concept is inspired by vintage athletic wear from the 1940s to 1980s, mixing vintage hi-tech sporting gear, traditional Track & Field uniforms and classic gym clothes. This is a MF® twist on athleisure wear, as well as a nod to active and healthy lifestyle. The following eight original “PODIUM” garment designs blend timeless references and “heritage” fabrics, resulting in a colorful grouping of practical, versatile, unpretentious pieces for working out, or just hanging out. These styles will easily incorporate into any classic wardrobe.
This FW2021 “PODIUM” mfsc collection is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co. The above “PODIUM” line-up consists of:
4) The TRACK MASTER Jacket (Tracksuit Jacket) * 100% cotton brushed fleece, horizontal weave. * Ribbed all cotton jersey waistband/collar/cuffs. * Two stripe arm strech gussets. * Body expansion side panels, tonal cotton jersey. * 1970s style plastic zipper with contrast cotton tape. * Color options: UCLA Blue/Gold and Black/Gold
5) The TRACK MASTER Pants (Tracksuit Pants) * 100% cotton brushed fleece, horizontal weave. * Two stripe leg stretch gussets. * Side slash pockets and rear zip pocket. * Zip cinch bottom. * 1970s style plastic zipper with contrast cotton tape. * Color options: UCLA Blue/Gold and Black/Gold
6) The PODIUM Jacket (Satin Team Jacket) * Cotton/rayon body, satin side out. * Printed cotton flannel lining. * Heather striped soft Merino wool rib knits. * Raglan sleeve stripe with piping. * Color options: Red/White and Royal Blue/Gold
7) The TACKLE KING(Nylon Coach Jacket) * Heavy 2×1 Nylon Twill, vintage Mil-Specs. * 100% cotton Heather Grey fleece lining, French terry side out. * MF® branded painted brass snaps. * Chin strap. * Original “MF 71-61” traditional sport tackle twill patches. * Color options: Black/Navy/Sage Green/Red
8) The MERCURY Jacket (Windbreaker Running Jacket) * All weather VENTILE® cotton fabric. * Athletic meshrear vent panel. * 1970s style plastic zipper with contrast cotton tape. * Color options: Arctic White/Navy Blue and Olive Green/Navy Blue.
Besides these “PODIUM” classics, we are adding a few heavy hitters to our existing MF® mfsc SPORTSTMAN (made in USA) and SURPLUS (made in JAPAN) catalogs.
Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Co FW2021 mfsc SPORTSMAN & SURPLUS Catalogs
Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Co FW2021 mfsc SPORTSMAN & SURPLUS Catalogs
Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Co FW2021 mfsc SPORTSMAN & SURPLUS Catalogs
The above FW2021 SPORTSMAN & SURPLUS line-up consists of:
1) The “DESPERADO” (Western Ranch Coat) * Original 13 Oz SC Black sulfur-dyed denim, selvedge. * Corduroy western yoke trims. * MF® branded silver tack buttons. * Made in USA
2) CALIFORNIAN “OUTLAW” model LOT.64-OTL * Traditional MF® Californian Lot.64 pattern with modified western “frogmouth” front pockets. * Original 13 Oz SC Black sulfur-dyed denim, selvedge. * Tonal stitching. * Made in USA
3) RANCH BLOUSE Black Denim * Original 13 Oz SC Black sulfur-dyed denim, selvedge. * Tonal stitching. * Made in USA
4) CALIFORNIAN LOT.64-JC Indigo Jungle Cloth * 14 Oz. Mil-Specs Jungle Cloth, dark indigo. * Tonal stitching. * Made in USA
5) RANCH BLOUSE “RINGO”, Black Leather * Black veg-tan tea-core leather interpretation of our classic Ranch Blouse. * MF® branded brass snaps. * Made in USA
6) RANCH BLOUSE “RANDALL”, Natural Leather. * Natural veg-tan leather interpretation of our classic Ranch Blouse. * MF® branded brass snaps. * Only available raw. * Made in USA
7) “ARISTOCRAT” Shirt, Dobby Stripes * Our classic dress shirt pattern. * Fancy New Old Stock fabric, Dobby stripes. * Made in USA
8) CONTINENTAL Two-Piece Suit “LE MARSEILLAIS” * Our classic Sportsman Sportcoat & Trousers patterns. * Fancy New Old Stock fabric, 40s-style brown stripe HBT. * Made in USA
9) DUDE RANCHER (Western Shirt) * Our classic original western snap shirt pattern. * Fabric options: 9 Oz. Indigo x Covert check and 10.25 Oz. Brown Brushed Dobby Stripes. * Made in JAPAN.
10) SECOYA Shirt * Our original 1930s style pull-over work shirt pattern. * Original “McG” woven plaid 100% cotton heavy flannel.
As always, besides the classic vintage style references, the common thread in all these original garments is Mister Freedom®’s on-going commitment to ethical manufacturing, original designs, and resistance to fast fashion.