Future's got an eye and appreciation for style, but au courant designer Fred Saint Foster connects the key pieces as the Creative Director for Freebandz. He started his own clothing line, Cease and Desist, in 2012 after he quit a corporate sales job and decided to follow his passion for design. From that point on, he met Future's assistant and started making custom pieces for the rapper during his 2014 Honest Tour. Since then, the two have formed a close friendship, and Foster reigns as Future's trusted visionary for the street style inspired Freebandz clothing line. With Future currently performing alongside Drake on the Summer Sixteen Tour, Foster is hosting a series of unique Freebandz clothing pop-up shops in Los Angeles and New York City.
Foster spoke with The FADER over the phone from New York about his design beginnings, Future's hands-on involvement in the Freebandz aesthetic, and what's so special about the Summer Sixteen Tour pop-ups.
What were you creating before you started with your personal clothing line, Cease and Desist?
I’ve always been into design and creative direction. My dad’s an architect so at a very young age I learned a lot about design. I was always doing graphic design but I had to study because I’m self-taught so I had to learn a lot about the business and a lot about designing and aesthetics and fashion in general. So I could become a better designer. I was designing before that and making basic t-shirts—just getting my foot in the door to get some more exposure and knowledge before I really launched the Cease and Desist.
So those were released independently and not attached to a brand?
Yea those were made independently and then we also had patches and an accessories pieces that we were doing with Cease and Desist . We also had digi-Jesus pieces which people still wear. It was just really hats and accessories at that point.
You've started trends with Cease and Desist. How did you initially distibute your clothing in such a way to do that?
That’s what made me confident and know that I was on to something special because the very first piece we dropped was when I first started. It was such a small company that I started with no money. I came from corporate America and I started this business with $10,000 in severance pays. I was living off of $10,000 for a whole year and creating clothes. I didn’t have money to give anybody anything. We started with the idea of making one piece and sending it out to some stores and "mom and pop" boutique stores and everything was based on the pre-order so that when we did make money we could make it and ship ip it to them. Then, it just blew up.
When it came to the celebrities, we never sent anybody a package. I really have no relation to a lot of the people who wear our stuff. They have to actually go in stores and see it and purchase it. I’ve met some of these people and they’re like, “I had no idea that it was a guy like you making this stuff and I thought it was the brand from Europe and not a guy from Atlanta, Georgia.” A lot of it was supported and people were proudly wearing it and putting it on their Instagram but the fact that they’re willing to buy it let us know that we had something special.
When did you first meet Future?
I started working with Future after Pluto 3D. In order to make money in between creating my brand, I’d make custom pieces for clientele. I started because I knew his assistant and she connected us and told him that I could make some dope pieces for him. I made custom pieces for the "Honest Tour" and before that I made denim team jackets for him and for Freebandz. I made some varsity jackets for him and the outfit for him in the Lil Wayne, Drake and Future video for, “Bitches Love Me.” It was stuff here and there. and then we built a friendship and relationship. He’s a different Future than he was then and it’s crazy to see the growth and the work he’s put in and watching him work motivates me because even though he does music I see his work ethic and the work he puts in everyday and that’s all it about. For me, that’s all it’s about. Going hard for yourself and going hard in what you believe in. We started with just the one or two pieces and then I became the guy he trusted in fashion. Even though he works with a lot of other people, we always end up working together a lot.
How did you start making clothes for the Freebandz line?
We all know his career just keeps elevating and he takes the time to give his fans a piece of him. If you look at what I do for Cease and Desist and what I do for Freebandz it’s totally different. If you didn’t know, I feel like you probably wouldn’t know that it’s the same designer because I really try and to dive into the concept of creating an aesthetic that’s consistent with his branding. So what we want to do is give the fans a piece of him and let Freebandz live on it’s own as it’s own brand but at the same time we want it to be tied to Future. We want that streetwear appeal but a little bit more sophisticated than your basic t-shirts or what every other rapper is doing with their merchandise. It’s more focused on Future’s fashionable street style.
In light of it mirroring Future's personal style, what is his input on the collaboration? Is he hands-on?
He is when he has time. When he’s focused on music and he’s touring, it’s my job to make the decisions but for the most part we’ve built a relationship to where I know what he would like and I know what he wouldn’t like. When we do work on things together he’s very hands-on and he’ll call me out of the blue and he’ll say, “I want us to do this or do that. I don’t want this or what something different." He has a lot of input.
What are some of his favorite designs?
He loves hoodies. He loves jackets and varsity jackets and barber jackets. He loves to be comfortable if he’s not on stage. That’s why we make a lot of leisurewear like sweatpants and hoodies that you can still wear everyday and be comfortable and fly.
Future just had a Summer Sixteen Tour pop-up shop in L.A. and there’s one going on in New York right now. Is the Freebandz merchandise going to change once the Summer Sixteen tour is over?
In the New York store we’re doing a collaboration with John Varvatos and the Moreca leather company and limited edition stuff so we want to create a unique experience everywhere we go when we do these stores. We’re going to have stuff that we do sell online and merchandise that’s available to the public but also have things that are just catered to the pop-up shop that we do. In L.A., we gave out stuff strictly for L.A. and New York we’re doing something special that’s bigger and better this time. The pop-up’s are not going to be the same every time. We don’t want people to come to the New York pop-up and it looks just like the L.A. pop-up.
So are the pop-up shops going to continue past the tour?
We may, we haven’t discussed that but we want to center everything around what he’s doing because we want to give his fans a full experience. If you’re going to the tour you can come to the shop, you can get merchandise at the tour or the pop-up will give you a totally different experience. We might do stuff after the tour but usually we time things with him being on the road. We want him to be able to come through and give people a face to face and now just a pop-up where he’s not really involved.
After the tour is over or the pop-up’s are no longer happening, will the items still be available on the online store?
Yes. We’re selling the merchandise on Freebandz.com and we’re working some deals with some retailers so the Freebandz merchandise will be available in other places.
In the context of Freebandz, why do you think pop-ups work so well?
The exclusivity and urgency of them play a part. People knowing that this is going to be gone in a week so I need to go and get something that’ll be unavailable in their city or anywhere. People want to come and get that piece or those items that they can trace back to the tour and then there’s a whole story behind it. It’s a capsulated moment and it’s not just about the store. That’s why it’s so important for us to pair it with these shows because we want people to have that story to tell and we got this on the tour and it was a great night. At the end of the day, clothing is supposed to make you feel good when you get dressed. Feeling good coupled with good music, good experiences is all around good for everybody.