Tricot Marin, Made in USA
Sportsman Spring 2015
Although stripes have been associated through the ages with outcasts, demons, deprivation of personal freedom and other fun stuff, it is argued that the contemporary popularity of that specific geometrical pattern is anchored in the New World of the late 1770’s… During the American Revolution, stripes became a reference to the thirteen red and white borders of the Patriots’ flag. For the revolutionaries of the original thirteen colonies, sporting and displaying striped patterns symbolized an allegiance to Independence from the Old World, the rejection of Britain’s authority. The stripes of Liberty versus the Crown of England…
The French, never missing an opportunity to aggravate the Brits, militarily supported and backed the rebellion of the colonies, recognizing the United States of America as a new independent nation in 1778. Some ten years later, France got busy with its own Revolution. In 1789, a ragtag group called the Sans-Culottes made the bulk of the French revolutionaries troops fighting the French monarchic regime. Contrasting with the fancy knee-length breeches aristocrats wore (culottes), their rugged outfits often featured a mixture of unfashionable stripes.
Today, on either side of the Atlantic, no celebration of the French or American Revolution would be complete without red, white or blue stripes.
The origin of the association of stripes with seafaring apparel, from the French tricot rayé to the Russian telnyashka, is also speculated about, but seems to have roots in the middle of the XVII Century as period paintings of naval battles tend to suggest. The keen eye will spot stripes on deck, swashbuckling away.
Before the familiar blue and white combination known today, the earlier seamen jerseys appear to have featured red and white stripes. Private purchase at the time, these striped undershirts were reserved for the lower echelon of naval hierarchy, the hard-working swabbies and quartermasters, in contrast with the dashing uniforms of the officers.
This unlikely choice of work-wear for sailors might have been a pure practical choice to heighten the visibility of men at sea, whether in the rigging, on deck, or fallen overboard, a sort of safety orange or emergency yellow of the 1600’s. Required submission to the ship’s Captain and the Four Winds, rationing, frequent punishments and strictly enforced discipline made for the harsh life of deckhands, as enviable and glamorous as that of convicts in galleys. Just ask around Pitcairn…
In 1858, the Marine Nationale (the French Navy, aka La Royale) officially adopts the standard Tricot Rayé for its seamen as an under garment. The now-regulated shirt features from 20 to 21 indigo blue knitted stripes, and will only be visible under the V-neck of the vareuse (jumper). An improbable legend has it that the number of stripes symbolizes specific victories of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).
The French word tricot (pronounce tree-koh) refers to the knitting process of the jersey, as the stripes are not printed but knitted. In the early days, French factories that manufactured hosiery (bonneteries) also supplied the striped jersey fabric uniform shirts were made of. Some argue that technical limitations inherent to stocking manufacturing eventually impacted the garments, as shirts looked striped and not solid. Due to variations in shades of dyed or natural yarn batches, mechanically knitted jerseys were easier to keep consistent in stripe patterns than solid color. This seems like a stretch.
It is also said that striped patterns, a common feature in the world of vintage undergarments, served the purpose of breaking the unsightly silhouette of the human body. Centuries later, in liberating retaliation from this prudish repression, Man went on to invent the striped Bikini…
If most of what is known about stripes is pure extrapolation and the truth lost to history, what is well-documented is that nautical symbols have long safely made it to shore. Unlike their Army counterparts, French Navy conscripts got to keep their entire sea bag after the mandatory military service, taking home their uniform including two marinières. Used or vintage ones were dime a dozen in Parisian flea markets until the early 1990’s, easily filtering in the civvy world.
Today, the famous white and blue stripes are mostly associated with France, summertime, fun-in-the-sun, sea-side resorts, yacht clubs, freshwater sailing, fishing, bouillabaisse, beach umbrellas… and fierce menswear fashion courtesy of JPG in 1978.
Stripes… From dweller of the High Seas status to international catwalk apparel, from the backs of Medieval felons to Parisian Apaches gigolos, from Marsouins to bobos, from Saint Malo to Saint Tropez, striped shirts have seen it all.
Coco, Picasso, Bardot, Brando, borders a go-go… Hissez haut, Santiano!
Houpette Marine Francaise
French battleship Jauréguiberry laundry day (1913)
Cargese Corsica (1935)
STAC Stage Commando marins (1956)
Brando Barbara Roberts
Photo Larry Barbier Jr (1954)
Brando & Josiane Beranger in Bandol (1954)
Brando rehearsing for Guys & Dolls (1955)
Bardot Edward Quinn (1956)
Bardot by Loomis Dean (1958) LIFE
Audrey Hepburn (1961)
Russian Navy telnyashka Photo Sergey Petrukhin (1968)
If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t, paint it.
Adding to that landlubber mixture, here is Mister Freedom®’s iteration of the TRICOT MARIN, for Spring 2015.
We opted for 18 stripes for a simple reason: E = mc^2 x u(x_1, 3.14 ,x_n)- f(x) = ex-15%, where u=u(x)+ 6.67*10-11Nm2kg-2 .
According to Antonio, this adds up to 18, quod erat demonstrandum.
Our 18 stripes form a sort of large chest band, horizontally framed by solid parts on the shoulders and bottom. This pattern is a reference to authentic French Marine Nationale jerseys, rather than the fully striped shirts without solid parts often associated with fishermen or ocean rescue. Some of the traditional Armor-Lux or Saint James shirts have that Bretagne nautical vibe. The brand Orcival supplied jerseys to the French Navy for many years.
A solid section is also featured on the sleeves on the MF® tricot marin. Depending on the size of the shirt, the visible solid sections will fluctuate in width, the XXL having a larger solid top section that the XS…
We are using a col bateau (boat neck), a collar pattern specified in the original French regulation code of 1858, insisting with our manufacturer for the curve of the collar stitching, a technical challenge for the skilled machine operator.
The side slits and longer rear panel are also references to original tail of the French Navy tricot rayé. Our 1/4 sleeves, shorter than the government issued shirts are a nod to the common practice of chopping up the sleeves of your jersey for comfort in tropical deployments.
Besides the specific shade of blue and white yarns we selected for our tricot (inspired by a vintage 1910’s real indigo striped jersey from our archives), we also opted for a second color combination, involving a particular red. Not an ‘authentic’ stripe pattern, but legit-looking enough to be part of our Sportsman catalog. This ‘Raschel‘ type jersey knit, a batch specifically woven for us in Japan in 2015, turned out to be the most expensive fabric we’ve had milled to date…
Our “Tricot Marin” is designed in California by Mister Freedom®, and manufactured in the USA from fabric milled in Japan.
* “L’étoffe du diable. Une histoire des rayures et des tissus rayés” (Michel Pastoureau, 2014)
* Musée National de la Marine.
* Cols Bleus.
100% cotton jersey knit, woven stripe pattern, milled in Japan.
Two color combination options, white/blue and red/blue.
* Inspired by original Marine Nationale striped jerseys and vintage nautical knit shirts.
* Woven stripe chest band, 18 stripes.
* Boat neck.
* 1/4 sleeves.
* Side slits.
* Rear panel tail.
* Made in USA
Both color options come unwashed and will shrink to the same size after an initial rinse/dry cycle. The jersey has some minimal mechanical stretch in width, slightly more in length when pulled.
According to your fit preference these can be worn fitted or loose. Although usually a Medium in MF® shirts, I opted to size down and wear a small in the MF® tricot marin, same as the Stanley and Skivvy.
Refer to chart for approximate rinsed/tumbler dry measurements.
Low-maintenance, just throw your tricot marin in the washer/dryer, cold or hot water, delicate cycle. No bleach.
Available from www.misterfreedom.com, our Los Angeles brick & mortar store, and fine retailers around the World.
Email email@example.com or call 323-653-2014 with any questions unanswered above, such as “¿Quien es Antonio?”
Thank you for your support.
Map Shirt, “MN denim twill” issue
“Sea Hunt” mfsc Fall 2014
Here is numéro trois in our Map Shirt trilogy, its pattern as always inspired by the M1953 Utility Shirt issued to the Marine Corps in the 1950’s. For those feeling we have sufficiently milked that cow, knowing this is the final addition will come as a relief.
Having reached my batrachian-related joke quota I will respectfully mention that “MN” refers to “Marine Nationale“, aka the French Navy.
Sometime in the 1960’s, denim twill dungarees replaced the set of linen work clothes originally issued to French seaman recruits. These linen work tops and bottoms came in both white and bleu chiné. Our Spring 2014 Crew Pants, the “MN” model in cotton/linen, was a reference to that heather blue 1950’s version the cols bleus (the “blue collars”, aka the men with the red pompom) had in their sea bag.
Vintage “Marine Nationale” linen work uniforms
The cotton denim the French opted for as the replacement fabric for the work uniform in the 1960’s was in no way comparable to its dark indigo blue US Navy dungaree counterpart. It was much lighter in color. The warp had a definite purplish tone. The weft gave an almost solid white aspect to the reverse side of the denim.
I have to admit that I was not a big fan of that denim when the French Government decided to tell me what to wear in the mid 1980’s. Mostly embracing American culture courtesy of Hollywood at the time, sporting denim shorts (the summer issue of the work pants) and leather Hoh-Chi-Minh sandals, was quite the brutal departure from “The Wild One”, in my eyes. For years, I relegated that tenue n°105bis to squaresville. Until…
This denim eventually grew on me, as its own thing with its own History, to the point where it was no longer a pale version of something else.
Still referred to as bleu chiné in Naval circles, the contemporary Marine Nationale version of this work-clothes fabric is today made of a 65% poly and 35% cotton blend.
My fondness is limited to its earlier 100% cotton version.
The textile experts at Sugar Cane Co did an amazing job at instructing their factory in milling this “MN denim twill” from the authentic vintage swatches we had supplied. To be honest, the first fabric sample roll lacked the purplish hue and was too grey, but this production batch is spot on!
We chose to have it milled on shuttle looms, a costly process, opting for a solid white selvedge ID.
The result is an exclusive mfsc 9.4 oz. denim twill I am quite found of and proud to introduce for our “Sea Hunt” Fall 2014 chapter.
In our “Map Shirt” grouping, the pattern for the “MN” issue is shared with its “Cavalry Twill” sister, displaying the twill fabric selvedge on the front panel fold and on the button hole placket (only visible on the inside of the shirt).
For the batrachian-inclined, the frog skin version of our Map Shirt is discussed here and available there.
The “MN” Map Shirt is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
Fabric milled in Japan.
9.4 oz. denim twill, 100% cotton, solid white selvedge ID.
* Pattern inspired my 1950’s UMSC-issued utility shirts.
* Comfortable over-shirt fit.
* USN-type chambray accents (collar facing, wrist gussets, pocket flap facing, inside pockets)
* Two chest pockets with flap closure.
* Concealed button front closure.
* Selvedge button hole placket and front panel fold.
* One large map inside pocket, side opening.
* One concealed chest pocket, top opening.
* White corozo buttons (these buttons are wood, NOT plastic).
* Side slits.
* Flat-felled seam construction.
* Tonal 100% cotton thread stitching.
* Made in Japan.
This garment comes raw/unwashed and will shrink to tagged size after an original cold soak/line dry.
I soak mine, spun dry and wore it damp to shape it. It fully dried on a hanger overnight and was crispy and ready to wear in the morning. Do not be alarmed if the fabric wrinkles, this is normal and not a defect.
Our Map Shirt is intended to be quite a comfortable fitting garment, easy to wear over a chambray shirt, a Tshirt… If you are a Medium in mfsc jackets/shirts, you are a Medium in the “MN” Map Shirt.
Maximum shrinkage to be expected with the use of hot water and heat dryer, but is NOT recommended, as unnecessary loss of color and unattractive marbling will occur.
This “MN” denim twill will eventually fade a bit with normal wear and subsequent washing, but the contrasts will not be as gratifying as the honeycomb-obsessed dream about.
When cleaning is required, we recommend hand washing in cold water with mild detergent and line dry.
Please refer to sizing chart for raw/rinsed measurements.
Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL
Available from www.misterfreedom.com
Please call 323-653-2014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions not answered above.
As always, thank you sincerely for your support
MFSC “SEA HUNT”
Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Spring 2014 Collection
Digging through an old box of personal photos kicked a bit of nostalgia dust last year.
There was a time when one didn’t document every minute of daily life with 16 photos per second, so i am very much attached to the few hard copy prints that survived my youth. In one envelop were some mid 1980’s traces of a period of my life that seems to be someone else’s…
I had done some time aboard an old rusty ship of the “Marine Nationale“, up and down the Indian Ocean, around 1985. For the French, Military Service was mandatory until 1996. Should you opt for the Navy, serving consisted of a 12 month course in evading-chores-by-looking-busy’, punctuated by sleep deprivation for those at sea.
At the end of my 1 1/2 year (I piled up since I had nothing better to do), I got skilled at both and was ready for a life of, I envisioned, leisure.
Naval training school. Hourtin, France, 1986
During my tour, blessed were we all by the relative absence of major wars at the time, my ship’s duty included hunting down illegal fishing boats, the likes of which we never actually encountered. Comorian fishermen had obviously been using submarines.
Nonetheless, participating in geopolitical presence in waters known as TAAF (Territoire des Terres Australes et Antartiques Francaises) was great for a 20 year old. I don’t regret any minute of that paid vacation and its many discoveries and lessons.
Having sworn to secrecy under my Confidentiel-Défense status at the time (my specialty was transmission ie. decoding and relaying messages that were way above my head, sent through hi-tech technology that involved a large noisy machine spilling out punched paper tape…), there are obviously things i cannot talk about here. Such as the following, for instance:
* My Lieutenant kicking my sleepy rear to attention around 0500 (pronounce zero-five-hundred for effect, thank you), as i laid motionless on a Mayotte (I think) sun-bleached wooden pontoon (I know). That EV1 had awoken a few minutes before me, a few yards away. We, along with a few of the ship’s finest on that pontoon, had missed the shuttle deadline back to the ship the night before. I have somewhat of a blurry remembrance of that debacle, but I am pretty positive it didn’t involve g Earl Grey and museums. Whatever classy local establishments were honored by our presence that evening have been eradicated from memory. What I, and an agitated taxi driver surely do remember however, is the moment i noticed my wallet was gone…
Another classy establishment, with my good buddy ‘Tug’, and an unidentified happy gentleman. Kenya 1987
* On another ‘critical mission’, we moored next to a very tiny remote Indian Ocean island called Juan de Nova. The island was inhabited by a group of intimidating sun-beaten French Paratroopers stationed there. I believe that mission was called: “Hey guys, we were nowhere in the neighborhood, so we decided to stop by”. These Special Forces bunch hadn’t seen much else than each others’ mugs for a while, appeared quite content with it, and used words like they were rationed. Conversing with a yellow-haired skinny squid was not on their priority list.
As a lucky member of the shore party, the emotional equivalent of winning the Lottery, I took a solitary stroll around that island. I was trying to look at it from a Crusoe perspective, immersing in the concept of ‘trapped in Paradise’. As postcard pretty as that island was, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t just ripe for marooning. Today, I might reconsider.
These dudes and that island however, left quite an impression on me. I knew they had some stories. If that island could talk…
Some 30 years later, trying to piece a somewhat coherent story for a new concept, many of these snapshots and memories helped me come up with a brief script, the backdrop of Mister Freedom® mfsc Spring 2014.
This collection might seem to some as a 360º + 90º turn compared to previous MF® line-ups.
I have to admit I was done with the 1900’s, sepia, dark alleys, gangs, smoky gambling saloons, battlefields, the Dust Bowl, revolutions… All good stuff but doing research can be draining, and I wanted a break from chaotic situations. The constant visualization of violence-charged images is a bit disturbing over time.
I longed for Cousteau’s exploits. On COLOR TV!
I realized I was craving for a shot of sun-drenched islands, turquoise lagoons, luxuriant vegetation, adventure, coastal surveying, successful survival stories, tropical scientific journeys and treasure hunting! I wanted the fascinating mental escape that the lure of hidden mysteries brings. I needed the high of discovering and learning something new. Maybe I wanted to play GI Joe again, sans war…
Over the summer of 2013, I religiously listened to a radio show podcast on France-Inter called “Le Temps d’un Bivouac“, highlighting the works of contemporary adventurers, scientists, nomadic philosophers, field writers, anthropologists… Fascinating interviews that turned my commute to work into a blissful moment.
Also, along with watching several documentaries about discoveries and expeditions, some fascinating reads kept me in the mood for this collection (I have become an audible addict):
* “South Sea Tales” by Jack London.
* “River of Doubts” by Candice Millard.
* “Deep Survival” by Laurence Gonzales.
* “Shadow Divers” by Robert Kurson.
* “The Lost City of Z” by David Grann.
* “Into Africa” by Martin Dugard.
* “Au Congo Jusqu’au Cou” by Patrice Franceschi
* “Between Man and Beast” by Monte Reel.
* “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.
* “Wolf, The Lives of Jack London” by James Haley.
* “The Things They Carry” by Tim O’Brien.
So, here she goes…
The mfsc “SEA HUNT” Story
“And there were these guys I ran into a while back at the Harbor Inn. They called it the Horrible Inn…
A rugged bunch of fun-loving and thrill-seeking daredevils who combed the Earth for adventure, the unanswered, and the occasional gold that crept from under their feet.
From attempts at locating Percy Fawcett’s “City of Z” in the Amazon, to ID-ing obscure sunken U-boats off the New Jersey coast, from privately funded rescue missions of some fortunate survivors, to Government sponsored land survey expeditions of un-charted islands… this for-hire bunch never turned down the perspective of a good thrill and challenging puzzler.
The Team was a kaleidoscope of talents and specialties, combining military backgrounds, academic training, survival skills and passion for discovery with an overall disdain for idleness. Each member pitched in his unique skills and experience, making the Team at home in “Here Be Dragons” areas. On Sea, Land or Air. With some roots in the late 1950’s, the Team fully bloomed in the 60’s and remained very active through the 70’s.
In the summer of 1966, a polaroid of the Team in the debrief room would have included:
An ex Bell UH-1 (pronounce ‘Huey’, again for effect) pilot on Air America, a UDT frogman drop-out, a young archaeologist and maritime historian, a French anthropologist with a stint in the Foreign Legion, a SERE instructor turned American Advisor in Vietnam, an aqua shop clerk versed in 8 languages and ex-corpsman, an honorably discharged Navy ‘snipe’, a less-honorably-discharged ‘deck ape’ with a fondness for extended Liberty outings, along with a Peruvian folk singer. These men constituted the core of this International band of adventurers.
There was a humanitarian and scientific aspect to most missions, but when it came to sunken treasures, the “He who floats it, owns it” mentality mostly took over. There were a few very lucky strikes, and they sometimes wore their “What Sunk Floats My Boat”© Tshirts.
The Team was ultimately beat to the Nuestra Señora de Atocha‘s cargo by the mighty Mel Fisher crew on July 20, 1985, however. A mother lode of $450 million worth of Spanish galleon goodness sitting on the ocean’s floor since 1622. Good for them.
The colorful members of the Team brought their own pro-gear at times, but were always outfitted in custom made garments, with specific designs matching each mission. Borrowing details from uniforms of their previous trade, ordering dye-lots according to specific job requirements, the Team’s style became quite recognizable amongst competitors.
Detailing their wardrobe, the trained eye would spot here and there several familiar references: the pattern of a knife pocket from a USAF Cold Weather Unit flying coveralls, the blue linen fabric characteristic of 50’s French Navy work uniforms, mil-specs zippers from legit field gear, US Army baker pants patterns, genuine parts salvaged from a parachute factory…
Some of their early gear even featured the quite hi-tech ‘Hook and Loop Fastener’ system, invented in 1948 and better known as Velcro. Impressive stuff.
Many of the fabrics they went for were of military origin, such as the WW2 developed textile meant to replace silk in canopy manufacturing, called ‘Ripstop’. And the tight plain-weave of the ‘Weather Cloth’ favored by many in the field for its hard-wearing and wind-breaking qualities…”
(end of fiction!)
The morphing of that made-up Team story into each garment of our “Sea Hunt” Collection spans an era of about 4 decades of influences and inspirational material, from several Continents and many latitudes.
It is not a dated ‘time capsule’, nothing was taken literally. History was speculated with. We keept it light 🙂
As a result, the general vibe of our Spring 2014 might partially qualify as:
* Vintage hi-tech
* Military sans war
* G.I. Joe Adventure Team gear
* Hatari! meets M*A*S*H in an unfashionable pho pas.
* The Calypso goes in-country
* Old-timey Survival and Tactical outfits
* Gym clothes for Astronauts
* Costumes for the 1966 Int’l Man of Action of the Year
* etc, etc… further descriptive left up to everyone’s imagination.
But, we are all pretty stoked about it around here. I dig this one. We hope some of you will too.
So, may the contenders for the 2014 Int’l Men of Action contest stay tuned… The word is about an imminent drop of Sea Hunt gear!
Thank you for reading my ramblings.
And thank you for your support, always.