A brand that is built upon tradition and innovation, Mizuno are always keeping an eye out for fellow people that are going to play a big part in the future of the culture we know and love.
With this in mind, for summer 2020, Mizuno have teamed up with London based brand, Carefree. Founded by Damian Malontie, CareFree first started out as a blog where Malontie would document the books he was reading and written pieces from himself but since the launch of the new site, CareFree has managed to build an almost cult like following all after his made to order T-shirts, keeping the blog at the heart of it all.
This latest collaboration captures Malonties inspirations and styling with a mixture of 90’s colour hits featuring across the upper. Alongside the Jasper Green mesh sits the iconic Runbird logo in iridescent form bring a futuristic, yet old school approach to this retro runner. Finishing off the kangaroo leather body and primed leather toe box sits the CareFree logo perfectly on the heel.
To coincide with this release, Damian also sat down to create our next Frequent Players guest mix!
Footpatrol: It’s a pleasure to have you Damian! How are you?
Damian: Yes Sam! I’m a good man. Still standing, just about anyway.
FP: You are no stranger to the sneaker and streetwear scene having worked in and been a consumer for a number of years. For the Footpatrol readers who may not know you, could you share with us a bit about your story and how you got to where you are now?
D: Where do I start, hah! Will try to keep this short. First introduction into streetwear was Stussy really, when I was younger really got into that brand and trainers in general which led to me starting my working life in Size? and then FootPatrol before going onto Stussy/Gimme5 and fast forward from that to Patta and today Converse. I’d say mainly got here just by ceasing opportunities and just being really proactive. I remember working 6/7 days a week whilst at uni. I’d work at FP, intern at A Number of Names (S/O Craig Ford, been a while), go Uni and then do agency work via a blog I was part of Second To None (along with Bakar, Sam Blenkinsopp (Trippin) & Shola Branson), before all you other people had one (laughs). That was a really big plus actually and how I ended up getting a job at Stussy/Gimme5. I showed them shoots I produced for JD, Size?, we actually had our work on billboards and tubes all whilst I was studying. I’ve always had my hands in many pies. Now I’m finally learning to say no- sometimes.
FP: We are here of course to talk about your upcoming collaboration with your brand CareFree and Mizuno. Before we talk about the project, we want to talk a bit about CareFree. It originally started out as a blog if we’re right in saying, what brought you to create it in the first place?
D: I studied Journalism and had dreams of being a Journalist, then realised they got paid peanuts unless they’re famous. So always been into writing and reading. I had a blog before the one we see today, but it looked so dead, I often say it looked like a conspiracy theorist website. I was talking about a lot of trending topics we’ve seen recently; racism, inequality, black history/philosophy. I had to make the website accessible and fly. I had to use my sense of style and marketing I’d learnt from being around cool products/people and use that to direct people to the blog. CareFree was born.
FP: So what made you want to create a brand from that?
D: Well, in order to get awareness to the website and make it a thing, I needed something people could rep. So I done a t-shirt. I initially only wanted to do 1 t-shirt as my passion really lies with the blog and what that stands for. As soon as I done the logo t-shirt people demanded a restock and then more clothing. So I went ahead and started doing sweats and one/two colour options. Now we producing our own cuts of clothing and trainers!
FP: The brand name & logo are both very unique, can you tell us where the concept for both came from?
D: My whole aesthetic is inspired by the 90s. I like baggy denim and XL tees. The colours used are very 90s, typical sports/tennis colours from this period. My design skills are nowhere near great, but I like to think I know what a brand needs. I have very strict colour combo’s I use to maximise the basic designs. The logo is a reference of Seinfeld, although can I say I like mine better!? (laughs)
FP: Let’s talk about your Mizuno collaboration! What was it like working with the brand and having your own shoe collaboration?
D: Working with Mizuno was cool, pretty straight forward to be honest, I knew what I wanted to do. It helped having a familiar face in Wes too. Having someone who I’ve known from a lil distance there in my corner and looks like me was important. His CV is second to none in this industry, his name always popped up whilst I was working for Stussy/Gimme5. As a young guy I was like who is this guy!? Hah! Really made things smoother and I learnt so much, some things he gave me advice on which he didn’t have too. I respect him for that. Having the shoe, still hasn’t sunk in yet actually. I think it will when I see it on the shelf. Having my own shoe- man! It’s what kids growing up round my way dream about.
FP: The RunBird logo has an almost holographic effect to it changing between red and green, what made you want to add this detail to the shoe?
D: We originally wanted to put a hologram of the CareFree logo in there, but couldn’t make it happen for one reason or another. Yes you can have that idea for free. I wanted to add that iridescent detail to pay homage to the OG pair, which also has that, but with my colours. My take on this was, if CareFree did an OG Mizuno shoe, what would it look like? This is how I go about collabs putting my touch of something already successful, cause I only work with brands I actually wear, so I never need to change too much. Less is more. I could never make a loud shoe cause that ain’t me, I love simple kicks. That detail gave it a lil something different. It really pops out.
FP: You’ve mentioned in a past interview how in the future you would like the clothing to be influenced by the blog later down the line, was this the case with this collaboration or did you draw your inspiration from elsewhere?
D: It’s important to me I ain’t preaching or drumming stuff down people’s throats. Last drop I did a graphic that was influenced by the blog and next drop will have another one. I don’t want to do too much too soon. The main influence for this shoe was the 90s as a whole, which also influences my website.
FP: For the young creatives who are trying to make their mark in the industry now, what advice would you pass on to help them find their balance and get themselves started?
D: I definitely wouldn’t have experience without being in stores, seeing what sells and what doesn’t. Meeting people from brands. Working retail is a very good way to get foot through the door because you can express your personality, when these brands come into your store and build connects. Also just start! But only when you know what you want to tell the people. Always, people would say to me, you should start a clothing brand, for years. I only did 3 years ago- why? I had to live life, see some stuff and know what I am trying to say. Also I am very assured in my style and taste, maybe if I had done a brand 5 years ago I wouldn’t find it still cool today. But please- just start and don’t over think, you’ll figure it out as you go. Don’t do too much, stock up on ideas so you don’t put pressure on yourself to keep producing designs. I’ve only released 1 item so far that isn’t a logo based product in 3 years. Let people get familiar.
FP: Touching a bit on music, we know it is a big part of your life. Not only that your website also features a music segment too.
Could you give us a bit of insight into your music taste and the influences it has had on your career and the brand?
D: I come from a very musical family. I was literally the only one in the house who didn’t stick to playing an instrument. I was a fan but loved football too much and yes rumours are true, I’m quite good (laughs). Dad was a big influence on music for me, George Benson in particular as my dad plays guitar and then the likes of Steele Pulse. Music had a big influence on my career. It’s actually musicians that first saw what I could offer. Styling, connection with brands and just generally working with them. Musicians definitely saw my passion for creative work before any 9-5 did. Guys like Kamaal Williams saw my value back then. The music is a big part of the brand. It helps paint the picture.
FP: Damian thank you again for sitting with us to discuss your upcoming collaboration, before we let you go. What does the rest of this year have in store for you and CareFree?
D: Well- Hopefully I can do the party we had scheduled for March with Black Focus Records (Kamaal Williams) and Apron Records (Steven Julien), definitely was due to shut down London. Usually I only do one drop a year in terms of product, but this year there will be two but only this one time. Oh and yes it’s another footwear collab. That’s all you’re getting from me.