If you haven't heard of FREEMAN, you must have been living under a rock somewhere oblivious to the handle this man has over the scene at the moment. His hilarious take on life and his art are what make this man so endearing and it's this quality that shines through in every design he brings to the table. Having collaborated with some big names in the industry, you can be sure to see more of Freeman's label CTRL in the next year or so, especially down under, with a very tight lipped collab on the horizons. Check out what the man has to say as Mafia takes on the Olsen Twin inspired man of fashion, introducing FREEMAN!
Give us the lowdown on how you came to form your own label.
Long story made short. It all happened in 1995 as a result of secret social gatherings and some weed smoking. It happened in Helsinki, Finland, and it happened mainly because there was a serious need for a common playground for friends, enemies, weed and skateboarding. Later we found out that weed is root of all evil and the only good thing that ever happened under a long term pot high was CTRL. One huge reason for forming our own label, fashion label, is that it’s the best way to get the best, hottest girls hanging around you, all the time. Chicks really do fall for it and oh boy we love it like that.
Obviously your tees are inspired by rocker/skate culture, that whole bright 80’s cum 90’s colour palate plus pop culture references…is the inspiration taken from your own upbringing?
That’s where it comes from and that’s where it has to come, that’s what i’ve been living through, I hope the next generation eventually gets someone as inspiring as god-like Warhol was, and still is. I think the kids out there, they really need Idols. Real heroes. Where did the heroes go. You know how back in the days all soldiers were heroes with swords and shining armory on top of mountains, nowadays they’re hiding in the bushes wearing camouflage. What’s up with that, there’s no glory. Anyways, most times, my inspiration comes from personal misery and depression, mostly caused by evil girlfriends. It’s the hard times that count. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, but if you want to have a revenge on someone, someone who cheated you for example, and you have your own clothing label, then why not use the teeshirt as a weapon. I’m not saying that revenge is a good thing, but if it makes you feel better, do it. Success is the best revenge. Being successful is heroic. All in all, inspiration comes from anywhere, anytime.
How nuts are you for tshirts? It’s a culture unto itself!
My zodiac sign says a collector. I collect, collect and collect. I collect everything, healing stones, normal stones, wooden things, rare clothing, treasure maps, lamp shades, feathers, water samples, bibles, broken glass, everywhere, people pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care. Get the message? I don’t know if that is funny, but my friend just made these cool translated grandmaster flash stickers. And I collect lyrics too. Anyhow, I collect pretty much anything beautiful but expensive designer toys, I never really understood those, I think the coolest toys are toys designed for kids. The thing in Helsinki are the flea markets, and I go to the fleamarkets all the time. And I hustle. A couple of years ago I found an oldschool alva leopard skin in mint condition from 1979 for 7 euros from Hietsu, my favorite fleamarket in Helsinki, and a week later I sold it for 2000 dollars to skateboardpimp.com. I love that board, but I guess there’s a price for everything. Hustling is a hobby. Flea markets and yard sales are the places for modern day hunter-gather culture. Anyway, because of my hustling-nature, my house looks like a museum, and not in a good way, but the creepy way. Oh yeah, I’m NUTS for tshirts, especially deli, or restaurant tshirts. I love them like I love sneakers, semi-high top sneakers are the most beautiful sneakers in the world.
Your label has way more to do with just being the standard street wear tee line. Can you give us some insight into the cut n sew/denim/jacket/accessory range?
CTRL used to be a hardcore skateboard brand, only teeshirts, hoodies and hard goods, we still do all that but we just added some fashion in the mix and started doing pretty much everything but shoes. We try to be self-supported, everything we want to wear ourselves we design ourselves and add it to the clothing line. That’s how the clothing line got so big really, but that’s definitely our strength too, the fact that we can do anything. We’re high on quality, we’re high on detail, we’re high on denim, we fly high, we’re just, high.
What I love about your label is that you cater to the ladies as well, and not only giving them their own line but also making the men’s line available in womens sizes, which in the street wear scene, is so hard to find. What was your thought process in doing this
The ladies, they we’re asking for it, they had it coming. We had to do it, we had to deliver. Always respect and listen to your customer, they’re not only always right, but they’re the ones paying your bills. The ladies should rule the whole street wear clothing scene, like gay dudes rule the fashion world. Ladies are so much better in everything. I’d love it if Shaun Stussy was a girl. Shauna. Everything would be so much better now.
Best selling product?
It has to be the neverending tshirt. Always. Denim is a good silver medalist. Leather jackets have sold surprisingly well too, everybody's asking for them.
How has the sneaker scene influenced your fashion?
It’s the necessary add-on to the CTRL line since we don’t do our own sneakers, therefore, sneakers are the missing link to our clothing line. Growing up skating and the whole thing sneakers have always been the most important piece of clothing. I don’t see any reason why sneakers wouldn’t continue being the most precious things in your wardrobe. Sneakers are the necessary evil. Speaking of evil, nike and the other giants must be doing something right, since they still, year after year, keep people wanting for more. Even the coolest dudes are into the products of the biggest companies, which is weird in a way.
What shoes would we most likely see you rockin with CTRL proddy?
Nike sb’s are common treat since we lucky enough to get gifts from nike every once in a while. Before we used to get gifts from adidas. I’ve always been a straight up adidas dude myself though, now finding myself slowly drifting towards the swoosh. Things change I guess, or that everything is seasonal. I’d love to design a pair of shoes, CTRL shoes.
I’ve noticed in your blog that you shout out all the crazy cats that deck themselves in CTRL gear, famous or not – eprops are always dope! You got Ed Banger and Aaron LaCrate doin their thang reppin CTRL- the whole BMore/Rock scene seem to have adopted your label with open arms, yes?
I’m not sure if we got ed banger, but I sure hope so. I’d love to see tight little Uffie and Justice wearing our leggings on a cover of Rolling Stone. Ed banger has the right way of marketing themselves, they’re a record label that works as a skate label. Or like the wu tang worked, as a whole, and not just as individuals. Super strong label-image, even if the music is mediocre. I’m not saying it is. They could the wu of pop music but they’re lacking ODB. So-me could be him ?
All good fashion labels should have at least one collaboration. You have the CTRL x Rockers NYC skateboards and they are fresh ta def! How did that come about?
We shared the same vision with Sean and Marcus from RockersNYC and then things just went on from there. The end result is a beautiful, beautiful full dipped oldschool board. We also did a collabo board with Vice with graphics on both sides a year ago, I designed the other side and Jiro Bevis the other. Really nice too. Mental note: both boards sure to be collectors items in the near future, buy for 7 sell for 2000 !
Where does CTRL want to go in the fashion world? Is there gunna be a massive takeover, you know, CTRL x music x art x literature. No one today just stops at one thing hahaa
CTRL and music is a good combo, and we’ll be doing something yet announced with the Norwegian singer Annie this fall. Her voice is from heaven. Collabo-wise our goal is to take steps towards bigger things in life. Like climate change, the third world crisis, the third world war and why not the ethical issues of streetwear and the whole fashion world. The evil clothing industry. We want to be good, we’re so tired of being bad boys. We want to have a ray of light around us. We want it to be possible to be part of doing something good without being angels ourselves. Think of a collabo with Greenpeace, with Amnesty, that’s cool as ice.
And lastly what is the obsession with Mark Ronson and the Olsen Twins (by the way 3 of my all time fave peeps!)
Who wouldn’t love Ronson’s speakovers at his Authentic Shit show on eastvillage radio every friday, dude loves to promote himself, does it well indeed, and we love to promote Mark Ronson, for free. The Olsen twins are cool just because they are nice and twice.
CTRL will be available in the next coming months at www.freshin.com
For more info and stockists hit up www.ctrlclothing.com