Freedom Clothing Collective is a multi media cooperative located at Bloor West and Ossington founded seven years ago by then fashion design student Rachel Alexander. For the last seven years, Freedom has been growing as an environmentally conscious gallery space dedicated to supporting local emerging artists, designers and musicians. Today, run by three board members and a group of collaborators, Freedom offers a cozy hub for eclectic fashion and home décor finds, beautiful artwork, and live music. I visited Freedom last month to check out their local designs and was surprised by how much was actually happening in the small boutique space, so I contacted Curator Marsya Maharani to find out more.
Could you tell us about how the idea to start Freedom CC originated?
FCC:When Rachel Alexander started Freedom seven years ago, she was a Ryerson fashion student, so she filled it up with garments made by her and her classmates. It gained momentum and in the last year it has been evolving to fulfill a much bigger concept.
How does Freedom CC manage to incorporate environmentally sustainable practices on a day-to-day basis?
FCC:We do little things like turning off all the lights at night, using fans instead of air conditioning, and wearing our comfy organic sweaters and up-cycled mittens instead of blasting the heat in the winter. Any packaging materials that we get from consignors or artists we reuse again and again. When we can, we use second-hand office supplies. Our cleaning supplies are as natural and biodegradable as possible. Our display materials and furniture are thrifted, picked up off a curb, or hand-me-downs. We cleaned them and gave them new life. In the last year, we have successfully completed our goal to digitize most of our paper documents.
As Curator, do you most often seek out the artists and designers you’re interested in, or do they usually come to you?
FCC: Our mandate is to support local independent and emerging artists, so we do have year-round submission calls that are open to everyone. The calls are available on our blogs, and you can always e-mail us if you are still unsure. Of course, we are always actively scouting for new ones. After making sure that the products are made locally and independently, we contact the designers to inquire about consignment.
For the artists, I look for artists depending on the upcoming exhibitions in our programming. For example, our September exhibition, entitled Fabricate, is a collaborative project between artists, fashion designers, and craftpeople to blur the lines between art, design and craft. I had been actively seeking fibre-artists in Toronto and from this search we’ve met some fantastic new talents.
Would you say that the store has a particular aesthetic style? If so, how would you describe it?
FCC: We have a pretty big collection of designers in store and, of course, everyone is different. The only unifying theme is that Freedom is a labour of love – it is a passion project for us to run Freedom as much as it is for the designers to create their pieces. So, it’s filled with one-of-a-kind treasures that are clearly made from the heart!
What sorts of DIY workshops have been facilitated by Freedom CC? Any new plans for future workshops?
FCC:We’ve been hosting ongoing sewing and silk-screening workshops. Anyone interested can always contact us to schedule a one-on-one class. We’ve taught people to make their own jewelry display frames from old window frames, to crochet circular rugs from bedsheets, to make holiday ornaments using scrap felt, and lots more! We have also had life drawing and fashion illustration workshops.
Upcoming workshops include a Polychrome Screen Printing workshop taught by Lizz Aston, an enameling workshop by Emily Gill, and many more!
Aside from textiles and prints, which other creative mediums is Freedom CC interested in?
FCC: We have a home section too – which includes furniture, soaps, rugs, blankets, pillows and ceramics. Most recent addition to the store is a line of all natural body and skin care products. In the gallery we have also exhibited photographs, drawings of all mediums and paintings.
Guest post by Terra Borody.