Mister Freedom® SWABBIES dungarees, 10 Oz. selvedge “Snow” denim edition, mfsc SS2020 “Waterfront Surplus”. Made in Japan.

Mister Freedom® SWABBIES dungarees, 10 Oz. “Snow” denim edition.
mfsc SS2020 “WATERFRONT SURPLUS”, SURPLUS catalog.
Made in Japan.

It’s been “All Hands on Deck” lately. For us at the MF® HQ, but more-importantly nation-wide, as anyone who has access to electricity and a few brain cells must have noticed, unlike this fine group of our Country’s learning elite…
So here are the SWABBIES, the final installment of our “WATERFRONT SURPLUS” nautical capsule collection.

The term swabbie is military lingo for a low-rank bluejacket, referring to the sailor’s chore of mopping (swabbing) the deck, barefoot in the old days. This derogatory expression is typical of the healthy rivalry in different branches of the United States Armed Forces. US Marines might call sailors swabbies. A sailor who’d rather be referred to as squid, might call a Marine jungle bunny, or more recently crayon eater. Submariners are bubble heads… All in good humor. This insiders’ exchange quotes some other colorful examples.

The inspiration behind the Mister Freedom® SWABBIES came from a pair of rare 1940’s-50’s private-purchase naval dungarees from the “Portlite Uniform” maker. If these conformed to the general silhouette and specs of traditional US Navy-issued denim dungarees, they featured really fancy tailoring and intricate pattern work for a pair of work trousers, which we liked. The apparently-inconspicuous two front pockets are actually a very clever combination of two type of pocket patterns, slash and patch, a construction tour-de-force on a wrap leg that only make sense when studying the inside of the pants.
Fabric yield on that vintage specimen was definitely optimized by using the fabric selvedge on as many parts of the pants as possible, folded waist band, front pockets, watch pocket, and rear pockets. The rear pockets feature an horizontal warp, as the patch pockets of the denim Longshoreman do, a detail that will only start revealing itself with wear and patina.

The most striking feature of our SWABBIES however is the authentic navy bells. We didn’t spare fabric on this one, and went full-on 1940’s-style authentic bells. Unlike 1970’s hippy bell bottoms, traditional naval bells flare from the inseam, not outseam, as the trousers’ profile photo attests. This is due to the fact that traditional navy dungarees feature a wrap leg (one folded single piece of fabric per leg, no out seam), a pattern style we have often toyed with, from our 2007 7161 Utility Trousers to the more recent Topsiders multiple iterations.

The story behind the origin of naval flares seems to be lost to History, with many legends floating around. Bell bottom trousers might have been issued to US Navy sailors as early as 1813, with a denim model introduced in 1901. The wide leg opening allegedly allowed roll-ups above the knee, keeping the pants dry while swabbing, as regulations from Secretary of the Navy Crowninshield in 1817 suggest. (source)
The myth about tying up the legs and using the trousers as a life preserver for a man overboard is probably moonshine on the water.

We kept the fit of our SWABBIES authentic, and refused to compromise with modern fashion adjustments, ‘cause we craycray like that. These feature a high rise, fit top block, and flaring that starts at the knee, gradually reaching a whooping 11.5 inches at leg opening! Not everyone will pull that off, but we just love that unmistakable vintage naval silhouette so much that we had to add bells to the MF® catalog at some point. And since 2020 is nothing short of an unusual year so far, there it is.

The SWABBIES’ fabric, a dark and handsome 2×1 selvedge denim with a “snowy” neppy texture, matches that of the Dockyard and Longshoreman. For those into the total look, the set will soon be modeled for your viewing pleasure, as soon as things get a bit under control in the World. For less of a “Sand Pebbles” extra statement, pairing the SWABBIES with a solid Skivvy, a classic chambray shirt or pull-over Secoya might be the ticket. Vintage naval photos abound and could be a style inspiration for some. The fits are also a bit all over the place on period photos, as can be seen on the shots below from albums in our archives.

The fabric evo on the SWABBIES should be quite interesting with normal wear and occasional laundering, not unlike that of vintage US dungarees.

The mfsc SWABBIES are designed in California by Mister Freedom®, and manufactured in Japan by Sugar Cane Co., from denim fabric milled in Japan.

SPECS:
FABRIC:
10 Oz. dark indigo blue 2×1 denim, “snowy” neppy texture, white with yellow line selvedge ID. Milled in Japan.
DETAILS:
* An original mfsc pattern inspired by US Navy 1940’s-50’s private-purchase denim bell bottom trousers aka dungarees.
* Authentic traditional USN dungarees flared leg pattern, inseam bell shape with straight outseam.
* Wrap leg (no outseam.)
* Intricate use of the denim selvedge in construction (folded waist band, front pockets, watch pocket, and rear pockets.)
* Black 1940s-style laurel leaf starburst metal donut waist & fly buttons.
* Front pockets combining complex patch-type and slash-type pattern due to the challenge of the wrap leg. No open seams.
* Rear patch pockets cut using horizontal warp.
* Flat lock chainstitch construction.
* Black tonal all-cotton stitching.
* Bar-tacked stress points.
* Woven rayon mfsc “SURPLUS” label on inside waistband.
* Made in Japan.

SIZING:
The SWABBIES come UN-WASHED and are cut so that the measurements match the labeling AFTER an initial cold soak/line dry.
We recommend the usual protocol before wearing:

  • Cold soak for about 30-40mn, with occasional hand agitation.
  • Spin dry and line dry.
  • Wear briefly before fully-dry to set creases, then hang until fully dry.

I opted for a W32 in the Swabbies, for a fitted top block, comfortable thighs and period bell-bottoms. The waist might feel a bit tight after the cold soak, but with a bit of wear, the “snow” denim stretches back slightly to the tagged waist. After minimal wear, the fabric will naturally stretch at the stress points, like the waist, as opposed to, say, the ankles.
I opted for a no cuff silhouette, until swabbing duty. To facilitate sizing for wide range of frames, we cut limited odd sizes too (29, 31, 33).

Please refer to sizing chart for approximate raw/soaked measurements.
Soaked = 30-40mn cold soak, spin dry and line dry (ie. minimal shrinkage).

CARE:
Wash when necessary. We recommend turning garment inside-out to avoid potential marbling of the denim fabric.
Machine wash with cold water, gentle cycle, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.

Available RAW/unwashed.
Sizes (W is for Waist, measured in inches.)
W 28
29

30
31
32
33
34
36
W 38

Available from www.misterfreedom.com, our Los Angeles brick & mortar store, and fine retailers around the World.
Email sales@misterfreedom.com or call 323-653-2014 with any questions unanswered above.
Thank you for your support.

Christophe Loiron
Mister Freedom®
©2020

 

 

Mister Freedom® LONGSHOREMAN Shirt, indigo linen-cotton HBT & 10 Oz. “Snow” denim edition, mfsc SS2020 “Waterfront Surplus”. Made in Japan.

LONGSHOREMAN Shirt, model A: 7.7 Oz. indigo linen-cotton HBT.

LONGSHOREMAN Shirt, model B: 10 Oz. “Snow” denim.

Mister Freedom® LONGSHOREMAN Shirt, indigo linen-cotton HBT & 10 Oz. “Snow” denim edition.
mfsc SS2020 “WATERFRONT SURPLUS”, SURPLUS catalog.
Made in Japan.

We took a stroll down memory lane and rigged-up a small capsule collection for Spring 2020, with references harking back to our earliest Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane Co fictional scenario, the 2006 “MFSC Naval Clothing Tailor”. This concise “Waterfront Surplus” nautical grouping is inspired by 1930’s US Navy and French Marine Nationale utility uniforms, local-made and custom-tailored dungarees, with the usual liberties we like to take with History. This straight-forward and classic set is made of the DOCKYARD Jacket, LONGSHOREMAN Shirt, and SWABBIES Dungarees.

Following the recent release of the DOCKYARD Jacket in indigo linen-cotton HBT and “snow” denim, here is Volume Two, the LONGSHOREMAN Shirt, available in the same two fabric options.

The overall design of this pull-over “jumper” shirt is lifted from a rare 1940s vintage naval denim work shirt produced by the “Gus Kroesen Uniform” label. Established in 1907, and with branches in Seattle, San Francisco and Honolulu, the Gus Kroesen stores have supplied generations of men of the sea with outstanding custom uniforms.
According to a 1924 article of the San Pedro News Pilot, Gus Kroesen, naval and civilian tailor and haberdasher, with a very attractive and well-stocked store at 335 Front street, San Pedro, served for fourteen years as a ship’s tailor in the U.S. Navy.” (quote credit California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside.)
Today, surviving vintage specimen of Gus Kroesen naval dungarees are quite rare and sought-after by collectors.

The Mister Freedom® LONGSHOREMAN Shirt features most of the design specifics of the vintage original, the jumper style pattern (aka pop-over), half zipper front closure placket, and three utilitarian patch pockets.
One of the striking details of the Gus Kroesen shirt was the unusual use of the fabric grain in construction. Classic shirt bodies tend to be cut using straight grain (displaying the warp threads vertically), but our vintage jumper featured vertical cross grain. I have seen a few of these private-purchase naval dungaree jumpers from various makers, and this is typical of that style. The purpose was to maximize yield and minimize fabric waste, using the selvedge in the bottom hem, cuff hems, and pocket fold. As a side effect, the combination of grain directions will result in interesting seam puckering, peculiar garment drape, and potential attractive “striped” patina over time.

If our indigo HBT fabric is non-selvedge, both LONGSHOREMAN options are cut using the same grain cutting method, promising some interesting fading evolution in both fabrics.
To add a little twist à la MF®, we decided to add a classic period detail in the form of a narrow chin strap, and a practical concealed chest pocket.

The LONGSHOREMAN Shirt is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.

SPECS:
FABRIC:
Model A: 7.7 Oz. dark indigo-dyed Herringbone Twill (HBT) fabric, blend of 60% linen and 40% cotton. Milled in Japan.
Model B: 10 Oz. dark indigo blue 2×1 denim, “snowy” neppy texture, white with yellow line selvedge ID. Milled in Japan.

DETAILS:
* Inspired by 1930s-40s custom-made private purchase naval dungarees and shipyard crews work clothing.
* Pull-over style “jumper” pattern.
* Half zipper closure placket, 30s/40s-style bell-shaped pull “silver” Talon zipper, 100% cotton tape. (use caution when fastening, as these vintage-style zippers are more delicate than modern versions with polyester tape. Lubricate the metal teeth with natural beeswax occasionally.)
* Fabric cut using vertical cross grain for body and sleeves, displaying the warp horizontally.
* Selvedge displayed in bottom hem, cuff hems, and pocket fold (denim version only.)
* Three front utilitarian patch pockets.
* Concealed chest pocket, stripe ticking fabric.
* Clean chainstitch construction, no open seams.
* Mister Freedom® mfsc woven rayon “SURPLUS” label.
* Made in Japan.

SIZING/FIT:
The following applies to both fabric options. The MF® LONGSHOREMAN Shirt comes raw/unwashed and is cut so that the measurements match the labeling after an initial cold soak/line dry. 
We recommend this usual protocol before wearing:

  • Cold soak for about 30-40mn, with occasional hand agitation.
  • Spin dry and line dry.
  • Hang until fully dry.

Due to the 100% cotton stitching and specific grain cutting method, attractive puckering will show at the seams after the soak, giving the garment more of a vintage feel. The denim version will be stiffer after the initial soak due to the re-activated starch, but the stiffness is temporary and will subside rapidly with wear.
I opted for a comfortable 38 (MEDIUM) in both fabric options, both with a similar fit but different drape. The silhouette is quite slim yet comfortable enough not to make pulling the shirt on/off an excruciating task. According to body types, the cut will accommodate layering with a skivvy or classic Nixon chambray.
We recommend going with your usual mfsc shirt size.

Please refer to sizing chart for approximate raw/soaked measurements.
Soaked = 30-40mn cold soak, spin dry and line dry (ie. minimal shrinkage).

CHART

Available RAW/unwashed.
CARE:
Launder when needed. For both options, we recommend turning the LONGSHOREMAN Shirt inside out, fully zipped-up, to avoid marbling of the fabric.
Machine wash on gentle cycle, cold water, minimum eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.
Patina will develop according to activities and frequency of wear.

Available Raw/unwashed ONLY.
Sizes
34 X-small (indigo HBT only)
36 Small
38 Medium
40 Large
42 X-Large
44 XX-Large

Available from www.misterfreedom.com, our Los Angeles red brick HQ, and fine retailers around the World.
Email sales@misterfreedom.com or call 323-653-2014 with any questions unanswered above.
Thank you for your support,

Christophe Loiron
Mister Freedom®
©2020