The good people of Seattle know a thing or two about rain. In a city that sees an average of 140 days each year of measurable precipitation, a good ran jacket is a must.
It comes as little surprise, then, that Seattle would be home to one of the very few American makers of waterproof/breathable rain jackets.
Freeman got its start, as co-founder Scott Freeman puts it, “very much by accident.”
We don’t come from a background in sewing, but more a background in being stubborn when we get an idea in our heads. In 2010, the idea happened to be making a rain jacket for myself. I had an old USA made North Face jacket from the late 80’s that I really loved, so much so that I quite literally wore it to death. I figured replacing it with something similar in both function and style would be pretty straightforward… After about a month of searching I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t anyone making the jacket I wanted, so we said to ourselves, “What if we made a jacket?”
Scott’s wife Brittany, no novice when it came to sewing, started mocking up some jackets, working by trial and error. Once Scott and Brittany were satisfied with design, style and fit, they cut the final jacket from a length of waterproof fabric. “I cant say it was a totally smooth process,” said Scott, “but the resulting jacket (which I still have) was everything we set out to create.”
At this point, Scott and Brittany figured their foray into jacket making was complete. But then something unexpected happened: Scott’s brother asked them to replicate the jacket. Over the next few months, more customers (friends, friends of friends, and even a few complete strangers) insinuated themselves into Scott and Brittany’s orbit. Word of mouth took over.
Soon, Scott and Brittany were juggling a growing part-time enterprise with full-time jobs. “We found ourselves in a place where there just weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done,” Scott recalled. “Our plan was to enlist some help sewing.”
They eventually recruited the services of a local pattern maker who extolled the virtues of expanding production to build inventory. By 2011, Freeman had its first production of 100 jackets. All were made in Seattle–as they continue to be to this day. “For us,” Scott said, “it seemed the only way to do this. I mean, we’re Seattlites making rain jackets, why wouldn’t these jackets be made in Seattle? ”
Frannie recently needed a rain jacket. So we gave Freeman a try. And we’re certainly glad that we did.
With an aesthetic that calls to mind the heyday of the Ivy look, Freeman’s rain jacket is both practical and stylish–the perfect marriage of form and function. Its shell has both the water resistance and breathability that is the hallmark of today’s technical fabrics. And a plaid flannel lining affords a modicum of warmth.
No, it’s not the kind of jacket you’ll thru hike the Appalachian Trail in. It’s something a bit more refined–casual but jaunty, a perfect jacket both for a rainy day in the city and for casual country pursuits.
What the Freemans have set out to create is the polar opposite of fast fashion, crafting jackets rooted in classic design with rock solid construction. “We went in to this knowing we were going to be asking customers to pay more for these items,” Scott says, “and to expect to get a lot more in return. We thought that was a pretty sound equation.”