Mister Freedom® x Sun Surf “Rock & Roll” shirt, Biribi Edition.
mfsc Spring 2018
Made in Japan.
This is our latest collaboration with the legendary Sun Surf® label, a branch of Toyo Enterprise known around the world for its authentic and expertly-crafted Aloha shirts.
The family-owned Japanese company’s CEO, Mr. Ryoichi Kobayashi, is an avid collector of vintage Hawaiiana. His rare shirt collection has been featured in museum exhibits and in several books. Kobayashi San’s knowledge, demanding standards and team of textile and tailoring experts, all contribute to well-curated collections of replica 1930’s to 1950’s rayon and silk tropical shirts every year. Check them out for all your “From Here to Eternity” urges!
Here is a bit of background on the Sun Surf® label and Toyo Enterprise, quoted from the “Land Of Aloha” book (roughly google-translated from Japanese):
“ The history of Sun Surf® is deep, going back in time in the 1950s. Aloha shirt was at its peak as if it responded to the development of Hawaii, but since print out facilities were not available in Hawaii, print cloth was ordered to the mainland of the United States or Japan. The aloha shirt currently being treated as a vintage was actually actually exported to Hawaii 60 years ago.
After the end of the Vietnam War, the name of “Kosho & Co.” was changed to Toyo Enterprise and commodities for domestic domestic market began. In the 1970s, Aloha shirt brand “Sunsafu” was born. It is only natural that the company that was involved in the export / import industry from the beginning and became familiar with American culture, became a prisoner of the attraction of American vintage. In the early 1980 ‘s, full – fledged creation of vintage Aloha shirts was begun, but reproducing its charm was not an easy task.
In particular, “color”, which is the greatest attraction of aloha shirts, that is, good coloring of a picture, can not be produced at all by the modern printing method at that time. Therefore, we analyzed thousands of vintage Aloha shirts collected as materials. Based on the result, it started from the work of finding a factory that can reproduce the print at the time.
As for the material, rayon having the same texture as vintage is not distributed, so we made SUN SURF original fabric which started weaving from yarn spinning. In addition, sticking to the arrangement of the picture appearing on the body, now with the mainstream width of the fabric is not suitable for drawing out the pattern from the fabric width at the time to woven fabric, tailored to shirts.
And sewing. Rayon fabric which is stretchy and slippery requires very high technology for cutting and sewing. Depending on the work, such as pattern matching even to pocket and body, that particular attention to detail can not be pulled out. Reproducing the sewing specifications found in vintage, using different buttons of various materials such as shellfish, coconut, bamboo, etc., studying daily from composition of the pattern to coloring. From this kind of steady work we draw out answers one by one, and the aloha shirt of Sun Surf is made by making full use of the know-how born from that.
Vintage Aloha Shirt which is now rare and difficult to obtain. Sun Surf® continues to revive a number of masterpieces to the present age so that more people can enjoy its charm without weathering with the times.“
We started our collaboration with Sun Surf in 2015, introducing the first of our “Rock & Roll” shirt, the “Action Packed” model, released in a white, red and black blend of rayon-cotton. For the anecdote, the black version can be seen in action on the silver screen, styled by martial artist Donnie Yen in “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” (2017). This would make our Rock & Roll shirt the first-ever Mister Freedom® garment to actually be mentioned in a Hollywood blockbuster! Vin Diesel’s line to Donnie Yen, “Who sold you that shirt?” is a classic. We know Mr. Diesel was inquiring where to cop. ?
For the third season of our Rock & Roll shirt, we decided to go from Jailhouse Rock to… breaking rocks! So long Nashville, good morning Tataouine.
This may sound strange of a destination for an Aloha shirt theme, but we figured Waikiki beaches were covered and, for graphic inspiration, chose to venture instead to the burning Sahara sands, destination the French penal colonies of North Africa, aka Biribi.
Some of you might remember the MF® “Biribi Bourgeron” we released in assorted vintage textiles around 2011. Here is a quote from that old blogpost mentioning Biribi, the carceral system active in the French colonies from about 1830 to 1945:
“ The term Biribi encompassed penitentiaries in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Often associated with the Bat’ d’Af’ (French military disciplinary battalions of North Africa), Biribi was the solution chosen by the French government to tame hard headed rebels, anarchists and other misfits.
Youngsters with a misdemeanor police record, individuals who had tried to dodge the draft (common practice was to stick a rusty fork in your thigh to invalidate yourself…), or just had an issue with authority, ended up doing time under the blazing sun in the ol’ African French Colonies. Fun activities included breaking piles of hot rocks, building never ending roads, enduring constant humiliation such as the infamous crapaudine, but mainly learning the ropes for a future life in the underworld. Biribi made the tough tougher and buried the weak.
Biribi and other French colonies penitentiaries (Bagne de Cayenne…) disappeared in the mid 1950’s, after numerous testimonies of survivors had shaken public opinion, and international pressure had forced the government to change its penal system. The year 1972 marked the official dissolution of the last Bat’ d’Af’ unit.“
For the fabric print, we resorted to Monsieur Caran D’Ache® rather than Mister Cut & Paste®. The print combines a few original MF® doodles, done in an amateurish and approximative 1930’s style, all ©2017. Because we had plenty extra time, we also indigo-dyed corozo buttons anticipating production.
Our graphics were freely inspired by “bousille”, an obsolete style of French Body Art with roots in the maritime and disciplinary world, well-documented thanks to Alphonse Bertillon and official photographic criminal records of the early 1900’s~1940’s. The verb bousiller (pronounced boo-zee-yeah) means ‘to destroy/ruin’ in French slang. That term properly conveys the characteristic sloppiness of bousille artwork, complimented by the crude inking techniques and scarring side effect. Any object sharp-enough would do, the edge of a tin can, rusty razor blade, old bodkin… and Indian ink or charcoal powder.
A forbidden practice in the French military at the time, the inking was mostly limited to the covered parts of the body, no neck no hands, unless you insisted on the chaouch (dreaded prison guard) making your life even more miserable once promoted to one of Biribi’s finest Sahara resorts!
Original bousille motifs were often heavily charged with real-life experiences. No ‘appropriated’ tribal art or cute dolphin ordered-off the tattoo flash wall of an air-conditioned parlor for the chiourme (convicts)! Each tattoo often carried cues that only insiders who had done time could decode. For the future caïds who made it back to the (under)world, these indelible Biribi souvenirs worked as solid street credit and were the perfect Curriculum Vitae.
Refer to “Les vrais, les durs, les tatoués: Le tatouage à Biribi” or the follow-up “Mauvais garçons, tattoed underworld” by Jérôme Pierrat/Eric Guillon for some history, scary mugshots, and semiotics behind recurring motifs. Mr. Pierrat is interviewed here (in French.)
The MF® “Biribi” shirt features a mixed bag of historical graphic references, some plausible some anachronic, pieced together in an old-school photo-print style familiar to the vintage Aloha shirt collector.
One will spot a Joyeux sporting a “viscope” (the long visor cap of the Bat d’Af’), a tiger chasing a snake (tigers are not native of North Africa, but do exist in local folktales and mirages), a papillon (a classic escape symbol, see Henri Charrière), a Tatahouine desert minaret, a pick axe/shovel (tools of the trade for building roads), a shiv (revenge), the de rigueur risqué mermaid, the classic Cheri-Bibi “Fatalitas” or “Souviens-Toi” (remember), a nautical star (the way home), a gigolo wearing a bachi missing his gigolette… Note that “Cosette” on the ribbon is not the name of a Marine Nationale ship, but a nickname for Tina ?.
Tailoring-wise, we selected one of Sun Surf®’s time-tested classic body pattern, a typical 1940’s rayon Aloha shirt model with the traditional loop open collar. We opted for a 100% rayon fabric this time, for that breezy, cool feeling and fine drape.
The MF® “Biribi” Rock & Roll shirt, aka. the Rock-a-Biribi shirt, is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan by Sun Surf® and Sugar Cane Co, both divisions of Toyo Enterprise.
* Our shirt is not intended as a political statement of any sort, nor is it an ode to thug life. It merely features historical references to a distant and complicated past, under the elegant inconspicuous guise of vintage resort apparel! All original MF® artwork ©2017.
* For a whole line-up of revisited French penal colonies-related garb and Apaches-inspired wearables, all made-in-France, check out our friend Mika’s “Fleurs De Bagne” label from Aix-en-Provence.
100% rayon fabric, woven and printed in Japan with traditional techniques.
Two color options, white or dark navy.
* Limited edition collaboration with the Sun Surf® label.
* Body pattern inspired by classic vintage 1940’s-50’s Aloha shirts.
* Original MF® ‘novelty print’ fabric inspired by 1920’s-1940’s Body Art from French penitentiaries in North Africa known as Biribi, and early maritime tattoos.
* 1940’s-style open ‘loop’ collar.
* Matching-pattern chest pockets.
* Genuine indigo-dyed corozo wood buttons.
* MF® x Sun Surf® “Rock & Roll” shirt woven rayon label.
* Packaged is a fancy re-usable cardboard shirting box, featuring original MF® artwork inspired by vintage LP covers.
* Made in Japan.
Both white and dark navy “Rock & Roll” Biribi shirts come ready-to-wear. Do not soak.
We adopted the time-tested sizing of Sun Surf®’s Aloha shirts for this garment. I wear a Medium in most mfsc shirting, and opted for a comfortable Medium in the “Biribi” shirt. True to size, not intended to be worn tight, or tucked-in.
See sizing chart for approximate measurements, measured straight out of the packaging box.
Professional DRY CLEAN ONLY, in your local eco-friendly facility.
Available from www.misterfreedom.com, our Los Angeles brick & mortar store, and fine retailers around the World.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-653-2014 with any questions unanswered above.
Thank you for your support.