Mururoa Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, 1980.
Nuclear test on Mururoa, 1971. Courtesy Getty Images, Gallerie Bilderwelt.
Mister Freedom® x Tailor Toyo ‘Mururoa Souvenir Jacket’ Fall 2016 Limited Edition Made in Japan
When one thinks of French Polynesia, what pops to mind is often quite ethereal. Upa Upa moves, paréo attire, whiffs of monoï, slurps of coconut juice, vahiné and turquoise lagoons,selfies in speedos… and an urge to learn how to weave your own tāupo’o, a traditional Tahitian hat entirely made from a branch of pandanus, a native shrub also know as -I’m not making this up- screw pine.
My pandanus, Bora Bora, 2016.
Not to darken that vista with a radioactive plume, but should you ask Tuamotus‘ residents about the Mururoa atoll, you might get exposed to a slightly different perspective. There was trouble in paradise.
Watch this (in french), if so inclined.
This Fall 2016 Mister Freedom® x Tailor Toyo collaboration, our second venture into camouflaging a heavy past in fashionable lightness, is referring to the controversial legacy of 50 years of nuclear testing conducted by the government of France on the remote atoll of Mururoa, from 1966 to 1996.
Our ‘souvenir jacket’ is no replica and was conceived from scratch. Because there’s always two sides to a story, it is also fully reversible.
The limited edition ’Mururoa Souvenir Jacket’ is designed in California by Mister Freedom®, and expertly-crafted in Japan by world-famous Tailor Toyo, purveyors of fine historical sukajan-type garments. Tailor Toyo is a branch of Toyo Enterprises, parent company of our long-time partners and friends Sugar Cane Co and Buzz Rickson’s.
SPECS FABRIC: The reversible “Mururoa Souvenir Jacket” can be worn either side out. Side A:
A soft, pleasantly non-itchy, dark navy blue melton wool fabric (90% wool – 10 % Nylon). This is the same wool fabric used by Buzz Rickson’s for their 10-button USN WW2 replica peacoat.
A blend of 57% cotton and 43% rayon black twill. This is the twill used by Buzz Rickson’s for their 10-button USN WW2 replica peacoat lining. This side features original artwork rayon yarn embroidered.
* An all original mfsc pattern inspired by local-made vintage ’souvenir’ garments, cut from recycled Government-issued military uniforms. Our jacket takes cues from vintage USN Dress Blues that could have been customized into a zip-up jacket by a local tailor.
* Fully reversible and comfortably wearable on both sides even with a short-sleeve shirt.
* 1950’s style reversible sukajan double pull “TYE Tokyo” metal zipper.
* Original MF® artwork back embroidery on Side B, rayon yarn stitching.
* US Navy Dress Blues chest pocket and arcuate back yoke.
* Six pockets total.
* Two MF® original design liberty cuffs.
* Side cinch tabs, USN CPO anchor buttons.
* One piece chin strap collar pattern.
* Double labeling, MF® & Tailor Toyo woven labels concealed in left pocket.
* Limited Edition.
* Made in Japan.
SIZING/FIT: The “Mururoa Souvenir Jacket” is true to size. This is a dry-clean only garment, so no shrinkage issue.
I wear a 38, my usual size in mfsc jackets. The jacket fits quite snugly when zipped-up, but with enough room to be worn with a MF® Tricot Marin and a Flannelette Garrison Shirt without impairing on your morning Tai Chi routine.
Please refer to sizing chart for measurements.
CARE: Professional eco-friendly DRY CLEAN only.
Available RAW/unwashed SIZES:
Rock-A-Upa-Upa-Baby. Featuring the “Malibu Sea Denim” and a pair of PF-Flyers (Center Hi model, made in USA)
The “Upa Upa” Shirt Reverse print bark cloth Skipper Spring 2016
Throughout History, public display of gyrating hips has often been frowned upon by the righteous pious elite.
In 1957, a 22 year-old Rock’n’Roll singer had to be filmed above the waist, to accommodate the Church Lady and her friends. Elvis’ third TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was apparently a threat to morality and order at the time, and the cameras stayed away from questionable lower-body activity. It is not known whether Colonel Parker set it all up to boost record sales, or whether Ms Enid Strict‘s ancestors had actively participated in the banning of the Upa Upa dance some 150 years earlier in Tahiti, but this raises one question… Today, could a well-organized public twerking event suffice to inflict massive cardiac arrests in the ranks of isis?
Let’s leave this one to psywar specialists and stay on course, as we introduce the latest addition to our peaceful Skipper collection.
It is well documented that the Age of Discovery saw many a missionaries anxious to spread the Gospel in the New World. After concertation, a zealous bunch decided to go cruising in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, destination the pristine sandy beaches of the Society Islands. On March 05, 1797, upon arrival in Tahiti at Pointe Vénus, fine men of the cloth noticed a-hunka-hunka-burning-love type of dance, and concluded that the half-naked locals could definitely use some retenue in the entertainment department. The Upa Upa dance was 86’d, and the depraved suggestive moves that had originally lured whalers and mutineers were relegated to the rank of savage activities, unfit for civilized people. The pernicious concept of Sin, a powerful control tool introduced by early missionaries, did wonders with the islanders’ joie de vivre and frivolous traditions. Interestingly, the English word taboo is borrowed from the Tongan word tabū (or tapū), meaning sacred/forbiden…
With a bit of convincing, Mother Hubbard dresses eventually replaced tapa cloth skirts, and most of the estimated 40,000 heathen souls populating Tahiti at the time European invaders first landed, were saved. These desperate descendants of Taiwanese migrants had been trapped in a sun-drenched and turquoise-lagooned purgatory for generations, and those who had not succumbed to eighteenth century VD imported by colonizers could finally enjoy the bliss of salvation. Alleluia and Maururu.
If Elvis ultimately generated millions of dollars from the savant swiveling of his pelvis, the original Upa Upa dance has somewhat fallen into oblivion. Still, its modern legacy lives in the ‘ote’a, and other Heiva activities connecting Polynesians with their original ancestors’ culture.
For the anthropology-inclined, glimpses of Upa Upa influences can also be spotted on the occasional dance instruction video clips we share, concerned as we are in perpetuating the Art of both body expression and living-room rug-cutting.
Disclaimer:I trust that the acute reader accustomed to these posts, who has just wasted five minutes of an otherwise fine day reading the above, will assume that it is not my intent to make light of anyone’s religious inclination, nor to promote atheism or a specific faith. To me, everyone’s wild guess on what to spiritually believe in is respectable, but, at times, some might benefit from others’ conviction staying an altruistic yet private and intimate personal opinion.
Cook Islands ladies wearing Mother Hubbard dresses, 1910 (Photo George Crummer, courtesy Te Papa, Museum of New Zeland)
Another mellow evening at the Bar Lea, 1959
Gabilou taking a break from the Barefoot Boys
A fan making a suggestion during an EP concert, Philadelphia 1957 (Courtesy Getty Images?)
Debra Paget showing her Upa Upa moves. (Milton Berle Show, 1956) Photo Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Upa Upa is here to stay
Now, without any further ado, our chemise du jour, the Mister Freedom® Upa Upa shirt!
The vibe of this garment is clearly more related to a 1969 steamy New-Year’s eve at the Bar Léa in Papeete, than to a traditional 1788 wedding under Pōmare I. So, just like our Bora Bora shirt or MF Paréo, the Upa Upa Shirt won’t necessarily work for reenacting ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’, but will make you ridiculously handsome, successful in business and happy in love.
The general pattern is inspired by 1960’s-70’s lounge attire with a touch of dune buggy escapade. The Upa Upa shirt features five pockets with double button closure flaps, in a (surf) safari jacket detail with a definite sixties accent. Not that anyone does anymore, but this is a non tuck-in shirt.
The most striking part of our Upa Upa shirt however is the unconventional use of the printed fabric. Not a ground-breaking event in itself, but reverse prints are a first in our Mister Freedom® x Sugar Cane decade-long collaboration.
A popular island fashion in the mid 1960’s, reverse-print fabrics gradually became the cloth of choice for both Kamaʻāina and long-established haole folks. It appears that contemporary islanders have a more subtle approach to sporting printed motifs than continental visitors have. Preferring their outfits a bit toned-down, they seem to leave the louder prints to sunburned tourists. Rumor has it that reverse prints were a way to emulate the faded shirts worn by legit surfers. If Reyn Spooner® allegedly pioneered the technique, surf-related brands such as Ocean Pacific® or Lightning Bolt® widely used the reverse print gimmick on their gear in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
In the Hawaiian islands today, reverse prints are considered proper business attire, a thought that suddenly makes corporate board meetings almost sound appealing.
The base fabric we chose for our Upa Upa Shirt is a handsome slubby bark cloth-type woven textile, with more slub than our Saigon Cowboy“Tahiti” Shirt, but from a similar weave family. Here is a quote about that fabric, dug out from our original post, which you might want to double-check the historical accuracy of, before engaging on reddit:
“The base textile (…) is reminiscent, in texture, of those vintage kitschy 1960’s/70’s cotton Hawaiian shirts sometimes referred to as ‘bark cloth’. In the 1940’s/50’s, a thick and heavy version of that dobby weave cotton cloth had become a standard feature in most American households, in the form of printed curtains and upholstery fabric. All those vintage iterations were modern renditions of the ancient Hawaiian kapa (or tapa in Tahitian, meaning ‘the beaten thing’), the natural wood pulp bark cloth of early traditional Polynesian attire that so impressed Captain James Cook back in 1769. “This stuff is awesome! Where to cop?” he reportedly said on his final voyage to the Pacific Islands, before being clubbed on the beach.”
Anyhow, the chest horizontal band graphic of our Upa Upa Shirt is typical of Tahitian vibe shirts and T-shirts popular in the beach communities in the mid sixties, swinging their hips to the ocean swell during the day, and to Dick Dale at night. Many ads in vintage issues of Surfer Magazine corroborate. This traditional Polynesian Art-inspired graphic we used is similar to that on the MF® Paréo, a mighty garment that has quickly taken over beaches around the World!
We know because social media don’t lie.
(Instagram action shots courtesy of our friends Markues, and Jay & Amber. Thanks for being good sports and for showing us how it’s done on location! Please note that this is by no means an endorsement on their part of the above ramblings.)
So, if you ran out of fishing wire after busting all your ukulélé strings, spin a Barefoot Boys record (this one), slap on three coats of monoï, tie-up your paréo, slip on the Upa Upa… Time to show the world your best tamouré moves.
And once your partner has hopelessly implored you not to share a clip of that on Instagram, do tag us (#MisterFreedom) for a chance to win a gallon of warm yak milk, or a limited edition printed “Skipper” bandana.
The Upa Upa Shirt is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
SPECS: Inspired by traditional Tahitian culture, 1960’s-70’s Polynesian attire, lounge wear for the marina playboy, and vintage beachcomber accoutrement.
FABRIC: 100% cotton slubby weave bark cloth-type textile, displaying the reverse side of the print due to partial bleed-through of the ink, for a subtle motif effect. Woven and printed in Japan.
Two attractive color options: A)Upa Upa Aqua: Aqua blue base fabric with coral pink printed chest band graphic. B)Upa Upa Lava: Black base fabric with aqua blue chest band printed graphic.
DETAILS: * 1960’s surf safari type shirt pattern. * Five-pocket style: Four large patch pockets with flaps with extra small arm pocket.
* Sixties-style double button flap closure. * Genuine coconut shell buttons. * Side slits. * 100% cotton thread. * Narrow caballo chainstitch construction. * Made and printed in Japan.
SIZING/FIT: The Mister Freedom® Upa Upa Shirt comes raw/unrinsed. We recommend the usual initial 30mn cold soak/occasional hand agitation/spin dry/hang dry process. The shirt in both options will shrink to tagged size. The Mister Freedom® Upa Upa Shirt is true-to-size. I opted for a medium, my usual size in mfsc shirting. For general instructions on how we size Mister Freedom® garments, see here. Please refer to sizing chart to figure out what works for you, depending on your own body requirements and silhouette preferences.
The fit pix are featuring the MF® Malibu Sea Denim, and a pair of PF-Flyers (Center Hi model, made in USA).
Launder when hygiene dictates and common sense prevails, like after a particularly competitive beach twerking contest.
Machine wash. Cold water, gentle cycle, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.
Photo courtesy of Ninamu Island Resort (www.motuninamu.com)
The Bora-Bora Shirt-Jac, cotton-linen. Monstera indigo print, Day and Night. Skipper Spring 2016
If you too happen to have fallen under the spell of seafaring tales of Her Majesty’s Ship Bounty and her charismatic Master’s mate Fletcher Christian, and pondered about the fate of her rogue crew on Pitcairn Island in the late 1700’s, then you’ll relate to one of the gem of French Polynesia, the island of Bora-Bora.
Besides turning into one of Uncle Sam’s outpost and set of eyes on Axis Powers activities in the Pacific during WW2, with thousands of American GIs deployed to its dreamy shores, Bora-Bora locals experienced another island invasion in 1961, by way of an agitated filming crew from Hollywood.
Although it appears that behind-the-camera events turned “Mutiny on the Bounty” into “Mutiny of Marlon Brando” for MGM at the time, Bounty ’62 is one of my go-to movies when I need an exotic visual escape. South Sea tales, unlike World news and fashion-related discussions, tend to relax me. I take it all, Jack London’s prose, De Bougainville‘s accounts, massive Hollywood hurricanes, Barefoot Boys tunes, ancient migration theories of Oceania…
Just as Fletcher Christian had happily indulged in island life under the disapproving watch of Captain Bligh, Brando apparently enjoyed the temporary insular pace very much, ultimately taking mental notes while fathoming the depth of his future Polynesian homeland. While at it, he met the beautiful Tarita Teriipaia on set. She could only fight him off briefly, and eventually became the second cast member of Mutiny of the Bounty that Brando got legally hitched to! His first catch-without-release had been actress Movita Castaneda, who had stared in the original 1935 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. He had married Movita in 1960, but divorce her in 1962 to switch to a bonafide islander, Bounty co-star Tarita.
Yes, it’s complicated, but Brando was a complicated genius. If you already have a headache, take a break and watch him bust out some Upa-Upa moves in 1967…
Back to Bora-Bora.
If witnessing Brando allegedly binge-eating his way through 52 pairs of tight XVIII century breeches during the 1961 filming of Bounty sounds quite entertaining, another treat would have been to share French skipper and writer Alain Gerbaud‘s bliss as he sighted the pristine Bora-Bora shores for the first time in 1924, while on his solo circumnavigating voyage. “Oh p*tain, Terre! Terre!” the voice still echoes around the motus. The island was to become Gerbaud’s heart anchorage for the rest of his life, taking on Polynesia’s cause as his warhorse, and leaving behind a controversial trail of allegations.
Not sure what was actually left from those days when I hopped on a small rattling cargo ferry on route from Papeete to Bora-Bora in 1995. But the tiny island can still spell its magic, from the moment you first spot the indigo blue hues of Bora-Bora’s lagoon on the horizon, to the last sip of warm coconut water on the Vaitape docks…
Alain Gerbault 1929
Alain Gerbault Firecrest 1929
Movita Castaneda & Charles Laughton on set (1935, Mutiny on the Bounty) Courtesy MGM
Before digging too deep into these tropical island blues, let’s pay a little bit of attention to the Mister Freedom® shirt du jour…
The style of the our Bora-Bora Shirt-jac is inspired by 1950’s-60’s Shirt-Jac type garments. Casual hybrids between shirts and jackets, these are known in the tropics as the visitor’s attire of choice for luau, clambake and other beach BBQ festivities.
A bit about our shirt’s graphic… The printing technique of the old-school monstera leaf wrapping body and arms is not your average silkscreening type method. An actual indigo-dyeing process was used to have the blue colors applied. Technically, the fabric is ‘indigo-printed’, and not indigo vat-dyed or indigo discharge-printed. I unfortunately know more about Brando matrimonial ventures than about the actual printing process, so i’ll leave it at that before I start making things up again. Pencilling might be an interesting topic to research for the indigo otaku.
Both color options of the Mister Freedom® Bora-Bora Shirt are using indigo blue for the coloring process. The “Day” version (the white shirt-looking thingy) features a single dark indigo print on a natural background, and the “Night” version (the navy blue shirt-looking thingy) features two shades of indigo blues printed on a natural background.
Textile-wise, the base fabric we opted for, after a lengthy and confusing R&D test period, is a fancy criss-cross basket-weave blend of 20% linen and 80% cotton, unbleached natural white color. The partial bleed-thru effect of the indigo printing, and the particular texture of the fabric, leave the reverse side of the textile with a toned-down negative of the motif.
The back yoke is a floating half-lining, made of contrasting indigo-dyed poplin, an mfsc staple we often use.
The ‘shark fin’ collar shape, typical of 1950’s shirting, is a wearable reminder to please leave sharks out of your soup bowl. Thanks.
Of interest also, our Bora-Bora Shirt-Jac proudly boasts being the first indigo-printed garment in the World to feature two concealed single toothpick pockets. They are located under the collar, and are not to be used for collar-stays.
The Bora-Bora Shirt-Jac is designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
Rig photos are featuring a Pyrate-inspired Vintaglio skull cuff (handcrafted in Dallas, Texas, and gifted by my dear and talented friend and IG foe Kenny “Kato” Thomas), a vintage Penney’s hat, and other old things…
SPECS: Inspired by 1950’s-60’s tropical island garb, vintage Shirt-Jac type shirts, Fletcher Cristian and French Polynesia.
FABRIC OPTIONS: 1) “Day” Monstera Indigo print: Criss-cross basket-weave blend of unbleached 20% linen and 80% cotton, featuring a dark indigo blue print applied on a natural-color background. 2) “Night” Monstera Indigo print: Criss-cross basket-weave blend of unbleached 20% linen and 80% cotton, featuring a dark indigo blue and aqua indigo blue motif applied on a natural-color background.
Fabric woven and printed in Japan.
DETAILS: * 1950’s-60’s long sleeve Shirt-Jac type pattern.
* Actual indigo color print, with bleed-thru effect on the reverse.
* Body wrap pattern design with continuous arm wrap band.
* Two hip pocket, matching monstera leaf pattern.
* Side slits.
* Shark fin shape collar.
* Two concealed single toothpick pockets.
* Indigo-dyed poplin back yoke floating lining, 100% cotton.
* Coconut shell buttons.
* Caballo chainstitch construction, 100% cotton stitching, no overlock.
* Made in Japan.
SIZING/FIT: The Mister Freedom® Bora-Bora Shirt-Jac comes raw/unrinsed. We recommend the usual initial 30mn cold soak/occasional hand agitation/spin dry/hang dry process. The shirt in both options will shrink to tagged size. The Bora-Bora Shirt-Jac is true-to-size. I opted for a medium, my usual size in mfsc top garments. The shirt length is purposely on the short side, typical of period Shirt-Jak garments, a bit accentuated visually by the body/armband wrap graphic.
For general instructions on how we size Mister Freedom® garments, see here. Please refer to sizing chart to figure out what works for you, depending on your own body requirements and silhouette preferences.
Launder when hygiene dictates and common sense prevails, like after a particularly messy clambake.
Machine wash. Cold water, gentle cycle, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.
Le Pareo MF® Indigo poplin, discharge print. “Skipper” Collection mfsc Spring 2016
Bringing you yet-another ray of sunshine, whiff of tiare and flash of bougainvillea with this latest installment of the Mister Freedom® Skipper Spring 2016 mfsc collection!
But not before spinning some yarn…
For guaranteed success on job interviews, may we kindly recommend sporting le pareo MF®. Now, don’t over-accessorize Depp-style, you can leave the lei and uke at home. However, done properly, wearing a colorful wrap cloth shirtless and barefoot in front of the hiring committee should instantly secure you a top-ranking position, while envious co-workers watch and brood. If anything, you will leave behind that coveted indelible first impression of self-confidence.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how your interview went.
Since you asked, my family lived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in the mid 1960’s. I was too young to remember , but I was told we lived in Marcory (not Cocody), and my Dad worked at a major oil company in Plateau, right across the laguna. I had a nanny by the name of Josephine, and spoke better bambara than French. Every morning, my Dad would fire up his Johnson outboard motor to get to the office, the Shell building. Some commute. Sure beat traffic. I do remember from later memories that he really loved wearing pagnes (that’s how we called pareos/sarongs in Africa) around the house, but it appears that he also showed up to work that way on occasion during our Ivory Coast days. Gonna have to try it at 7161 sometime…
Gérard Loiron, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 1966
Abidjan, Plateau. Baie de Cocody
Now, the pareo as business attire might be an acquired taste for westerners, and a challenging option for Minnesota residents, but the minimalistic approach of a single wrap cloth as a daily outfit has always sounded very tempting to me. Definitely perfect retirement gear for old skippers.
If the fascinating Kon-Tiki raft expedition of 1947 led by explorer Thor Heyerdahl was an attempt at proving that the first settlers of Oceania sailed west from South America to populate the remote Pacific islands of Polynesia, archeological discoveries are now pointing in the opposite direction, i.e. eastward voyages originating in South East Asia.
Indeed, pottery found in 1952 in New Caledonia have linked the ancient Asian Lapita culture with the later Polynesian culture. Most experts now favor seafaring theories with an east-to-west expansion. Apparently, the ancestors of Polynesian people originally came from Taiwan, of course gradually, starting some 5,000+ years ago. Those early adventurers had beat the challenge of sailing into the wind on ancient catamarans, surviving the thousand and one perils of what would through generations add-up to a 7,000 miles voyage bound for terra incognita in unchartered waters…
Pacific voyages and settlements of the Māori and Polynesian people.
For the anecdote, the word Lapita, coined by the two archeologists responsible for discovering the ground-breaking pottery, was merely a phonetic understanding of an expression locals used to describe the digging site foreigners and their team excavated from. Canak folks would point at the spot and say “xapeta’a”. Assuming that exotic-sounding sound referred to New Caledonian’s ancestors in the local tongue, the American scientists named that newly-discovered ancient culture Lapita. Turned out the expression actually literally translated to… ‘the place where one digs’.
Not many iPhone selfies of Lapita people sporting paréo survived the island-hoping journey in the Pacific around 800BCE, but it doesn’t hurt to imagine that, upon arrival in uninhabited present-day Tahiti, some of the descendants of the original navigators wore woven loin cloth in the style of the Malayan sarong. Just don’t go quoting me on that during your next Oceania Anthropology convention.
Tarita Teriipaia, on set of “Mutiny Of The Bounty”, 1961 (Grey Villet for LIFE)
Tarita Teriipaia, 1962
Tarita Teriipia with family, 1961 (Courtesy Getty Images)
Skipper Bernard Moitessier, 1985 (Photo Véronique Lerebours)
Un-related to the Lapita is the fact that our handsome MF pareo is made of 100% cotton indigo-dyed selvedge popeline, discharge-printed. The print is a combination of bits of vintage graphics with a 1960’s Tiki vibe that we put together for your visual entertainment. I’m pretty sure that the swirling shapes represent waves in traditional Polynesian art. The monstera leaves are inspired by a vintage Tahiti shirt form the Mister Freedom® archives.
Because of the bleed-through effect typical of discharge-type prints, the reverse side of the fabric also distinctly shows the graphic.
The indigo color is light-sensitive and your pareo should fade with repeat beach-session exposure and with each Upa-Upa dancing contest involvement.
The cloth dimensions are about 69’’ by 41’’ after an initial rinse, one-size-wraps-all. Please note that although le Pareo MF® is intended to be used as a sarong-type waist wrap, for both man and woman, the versatile little bugger will adapt to your imagination and serve as a beach blanket, a scarf, a luau dress, a baby carriage, a turban, a mook, an escape rope, a back pack, a furoshiki, a superhero cape, etc…
One way to do it. Notice they made me wear clothes, for everyone’s sake.
This collectible item from our Spring 2016 SKIPPER collection comes in a fancy cardboard box featuring an original MF® watercolor doodle. How ‘bout that as a present suggestion for a loved-one, for a clambake-inclined colleague or a beach-blanket bingo partner?
The MF® pareo is designed under the California sun -and obviously too much of it- by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
SPECS: A collectible mfsc original, inspired by elegant vintage island fashion, traditional Polynesian wear, and business formal attire.
FABRIC: 100% cotton light-weight poplin, selvedge, indigo-dyed and discharge printed. Milled and printed in Japan. Dimensions: Approx. 69 inches x 41 inches.
SIZING/CARE: We recommend an original cold soak and line dry, but this item definitely qualifies as low maintenance. One size wraps-all. Further washing in cold water with minimal eco-friendly detergent.
The “TAHITI” Shirt
“Saigon Cowboy” mfsc Spring 2015 Collection.
The short tale of this Mister Freedom® “Tahiti Shirt” involves the Club Med village of a sun-drenched Greek island in the late 1950’s, and a young adventurer half my age.
In the Club Méditerranée tradition of their early beach-front vacation villages, GOs (Gentils Organisateurs, the nice staff) were often issued printed pareos, in order to stand out and better entertain the GM (Gentils Membres, the nice vacationers). Nothing spells fun-in-the-sun like Polynesian prints do. For the French, Tahiti is the ultimate exotic-sounding escape from the daily grind, known as metro/boulot/dodo (commute/work/sleep) by the Parisians. For baguette lovers, anything associated with Tahiti means H.O.L.I.D.A.Y.S (no, not Johnny), save for the nuclear mushrooms of Mururoa, maybe.
Johnny HOLIDAY, USA
Johnny HALLYDAY, France
Bora Bora, anyone?
Baguette lover in Bora Bora (1995)
780 miles from Tahiti, Mururoa Atoll nuclear testing (1970)
In some villages, these Tahiti-style colorful cloth wraps were cut & sewn into aloha tops by local tailors or whoever handled the sewing machine best. I own two of these vintage shirts, had them for years. Mine originally belonged to a young fellow who had done a short stint as a GO in Greece, sometime in 1957. For just a few months, but long enough to improve on his water ski and social skills, and shake the djebel dust and smell of war off his mind.
The year prior, he had been enjoying twelve months of bushwhacking in green fatigues in the arid Algerian mountains. Military service was mandatory in France in 1956, and if you had just missed ‘l’Indo‘, you were about ripe for ‘l’Algérie‘.
A French colony since 1830, Algeria had been at war with France since 1954, claiming back its autonomy. For Algerian nationalists who had closely watched the demise of the old French colonial powers in Indochina culminating in the Diem Bien Phu firework finale, independence didn’t seem like utopia anymore. If their Vietnamese comrades had done it, so could they. But generations of French Algeria-born Pieds-Noirs, harkis, …, and a coalition of rogue generals, were not giving up that easy. Ensued the epic and gruesome Guerre d’Algérie (1954-1962), a very touchy topic to this day between both countries. Just quote Charles De Gaulle’s “Je vous ai compris” (I understood you) to a Pied-Noir, and watch what happens… For one planning to vacation in Algiers over the holidays, mentioning the OAS while strolling in the Casbah will also prove a great ice breaker to meet friendly locals.
But like they say, one front at a time, we’ll get back to this one some other day…
After getting his diploma in paréo-ironing from the Greeks, our playboy waterski instructor made his way back to Algeria in the following years. This time roaming the mighty Sahara desert as a drilling scout for the CPA (Compagnie des Pétroles d’Algérie, an oil extracting venture in North Africa). While at it, he managed to give a pretty Pied-noir gal his GO shirt, and my Mum a new last name…
None of the green fatigues, but two of the Club Med “Tahiti” shirts along with old photo albums happened to survive my Dad’s tumultuous expat life. He had nothing but contempt for hoarding, a ‘give-it-all-away’ modus operandi not shared by my Mum who often resulted to hiding things in order to find then again!I have an inclination to not collect anything myself, but I admit the few old relics he did not succeed in getting rid of back then are priceless to me today. Gérard Loiron, you are missed.
Kindly making a suggestion
Original 1950’s Club Med shirts
Discreet product placement
Both shirts were sent to our Sugar Cane Co friends in Japan and the fabric and prints analyzed. Hats off to the Toyo textile experts who reconstituted the entire panel artwork without taking the vintage samples apart. The floral design is non-symmetrical, as can be seen on the paréo-ironing session photo, and the motif repeat was very difficult to recreate for the Sun Surf® Graphic Dept. But it seems there is nothing they can’t do when it comes to Aloha-type shirts. Otsukaresama deshita.
The base textile of our Tahiti shirt is reminiscent, in texture, of those vintage kitschy 1960’s/70’s cotton Hawaiian shirts sometimes referred to as ‘bark cloth’. In the 1940’s/50’s, a thick and heavy version of that dobby weave cotton cloth had become a standard feature in most American households, in the form of printed curtains and upholstery fabric.
All those vintage iterations were modern renditions of the ancient Hawaiian kapa (or tapa in Tahitian, meaning ‘the beaten thing’), the natural wood pulp bark cloth of early traditional Polynesian attire that so impressed Captain James Cook back in 1769. “This stuff is awesome! Where to cop?” he reportedly said on his final voyage to the Pacific Islands, before being clubbed on the beach. But you might want to double-check on that.
Our “Tahiti Shirt” in barkcloth-like cotton fabric comes in two color options, coined by the MF® Linguistic Dept as Moana (meaning the mighty Ocean ie. the Big Blue) and Ura (meaning red), for the sole purpose of qualifying you as the most fluent individual in Tahitian language of your neighborhood at this second.
Doing the hula bop in pareo
Pareo blouse by Lin Fung Chu, leading couturier of Papeete (1953)
Tahiti ‘Voyage Through Paradise’ George T. Eggleston (1953)
At this point, a quite pertinent remark would be “how you planning to landfall that canoe in Saigon, son?“, in other words “The Nam?! Fun in the sun??!? wtf?!?!“
That’s when R&R comes in. No, not the devil’s music, I mean Rest & Recreation.
During their 12 or 13-month Vietnam tour, American soldiers could take a one-time leave out of Vietnam, for a maximum of 30 days. Jungle fatigues were dropped at the departure air base, khakis slipped on, and civvy clothing often rented at the destination. Popular escapes were Hawaii, Sydney, Bangkok, Hong Kong… from where souvenirs and loads of crusty epic stories were brought back.
Additionally, shorter in-country R&R were awarded to wary grunts with an urgent need to go cool off away from Agent Orange and Victor Charlie for a few days. The South China Sea waters of Cam Ranh Bay, Vung Tau, and the famed Da Nang China Beach saw many a sunburnt GIs come and go during the 10 years of the Vietnam war. Some days, those beaches almost looked like beaches at home, save for the M-16 of the US Marine lifeguard on tower duty, or the occasional bandages from hospital ships washing ashore. Sorry ’bout that.
Vung Tau Beach R&R (1966)
Cinephiles will also notice that the Mister Freedom® “Tahiti shirt” is a nod to the famous M*A*S*H* war comedy film and TV series, which featured characters (“Trapper John” or “Hawkeye”) flashing a floral shirt in the context of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. A wardrobe oxymoron, intended to highlights the level of gallows humor necessary in the field to help deal with the absurdity and brutality of war.
“... it was so far out, you couldn’t blame anybody for believing anything. Guys dressed up in batman fetishes, I saw a whole squad like that, it gave them a kind of dumb esprit. Guys stuck the ace of spades in their helmet bands, they picked relics off of an enemy they’d killed, a little transfer of power; they carried around five pound bibles from home, crosses, St. Christophers, Mezuzahs, locks of hair, girlfriends’ underwear, snaps of their families, their wives, their dogs, their cows, their cars, pictures of John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King, Huey Newton, the Pope, Che Guevara, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, wiggier than cargo cultists.“
(Excerpt from Michael Herr’s ‘Dispatches‘, correspondent for Esquire Magazine in Vietnam, 1967-1969.)
Anyways, the “Tahiti shirt” was designed in California by Mister Freedom® and manufactured in Japan in collaboration with Sugar Cane Co.
100% cotton ‘bark cloth’ like dobby fabric base. 1950’s Polynesian floral design print replica. Fabric milled in Japan.
* Original mfsc updated pattern, inspired by authentic 1950’s local-made tourist attire.
* Long sleeve.
* French style col requin (shark fin shape collar)
* Genuine coconut shell buttons.
* Matching single chest pocket.
* No back yoke.
* Side slits.
* Flat-felled seam chainstitch construction, narrow folder.
* High count 100% cotton tonal stitching.
* Limited edition.
* Made in Japan.
The “Tahiti” shirt comes raw/unwashed and will shrink to tagged size after an original cold soak/line dry.
If you are a Medium in mfsc shirting, you are a Medium in this shirt.
We recommend an initial cold soak, spin dry and line dry. Please refer to sizing chart for measurements reflecting this method.
CARE: Launder when hygiene dictates and common sense prevails.
Machine wash. Cold water, gentle cycle, eco-friendly mild detergent and line dry.
Available RAW/unwashed. SIZES:
Small Medium Large X-Large XX-Large