It’s that time of year, between cold and warm weather, when we never have any idea what we’re supposed to wear. Enter Canadian woman-owned brand FREED, whose SS22 collection includes stylish outerwear and accessories—from trenches to cosy Sherpa coats to faux-fur totes—perfectly suited to spring weather. We chatted with founder Marissa Freed to learn more! —Noa Nichol
Hi Marissa! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I’m Marissa Freed, founder of FREED, and was born and raised in the fashion industry. My mother’s family worked in fashion while my father, Stephen Freed, was third generation of parent company Freed & Freed, founded in 1921. As I became a mother, I wanted to set an example to the following generation. To have a positive impact on the world and show you can look put-together in five minutes. Years ago, I rescued a dog from the streets of Northern Manitoba (his name is Henry!), and it sparked a reflection on overconsumption. The practice of overconsumption through fast fashion or overbreeding is becoming more common and it is important to recognize where the clothes are being produced as much as it is to know where they go once abandoned. I like to keep this ethos and empathy in mind when thinking about what’s next for FREED, and to take concrete actions for change, while continuously finding ways to give back and positively impact the community and the world around us.
When and why did you launch FREED? What niche were/are you aiming to fill?
Freed & Freed has been around for the past century, and we’re known for our sought-after extensive expertise and technical capabilities to creating local, quality outerwear. More recently in 2020, I launched FREED—a collection of vegan and cruelty-free faux fur outerwear and accessories for adults and kids. Being inclusive and welcoming is a part of who I am. I created FREED to express myself in an authentic and unapologetic way in hopes to inspire others to do the same. Canadian outerwear is recognized worldwide, from parkas to down goods, but I wanted to offer an alternative and create more fashionable pieces that keep you warm. Do you really want to go to dinner wearing your parka? We are aiming to be recognized as an inclusive and welcoming, genderless brand for people of all ages. The brand is designed with love to help everyone express themselves through fashion. We want to make the world our runway!
What products do you currently offer, and what makes them unique?
We began by introducing our iconic faux-fur styles in 2020, then once then pandemic entered our lives, like many others, we wondered how we could help. We launched a collection of environmentally responsible Made-in-Canada masks, aiming to have a sustainable impact during this difficult time. More recently, we’re proud to have introduced our first vegan leather outerwear and accessories collection made from eco-friendly fabrics, and without harming animals. What makes us unique is the way that we combine a century of manufacturing expertise with forward-thinking ethical practices for the modern consumer. Our coats are dedicated to the people who have been a major influence in my life—from my daughters, family and friends to my favourite characters. I love to name the coats in their honour. (Hello Carrie Bradshaw!)
We know sustainability is a big part of FREED’s philosophy as a brand. Can you tell us more about that?
Sustainability is a big part of our philosophy but defining sustainability is not an easy task. As a brand, we aim to do the absolute best we can to reduce our environmental impact and help consumers make more eco-conscious decisions. I can be entirely vertical because my manufacturing is right below my office, so it allows us to have better control of production from start to finish. Our collections are 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free, we use eco-textiles free of animal-based dyes, we have low waste production, and we are constantly looking to innovate to be more sustainable. As a brand, we will never offer aggressive discounts because I find that it drives fast fashion, only in a different way. Every year, FREED takes on one new environmental initiative. This year, our focus is responsible production where we recycle our fabric ends and material leftovers to be re-designed into new pieces and accessories for future collections. Our goal is to get as close to zero waste as humanly possible. We will soon be introducing a very special repurposed capsule next fall; we can’t wait to unveil more, but I can tell you that we’re bringing colour for fall!
Spring is in the air! What are some outerwear trends that are on your radar and/or we should know about for the season?
I love oversized jackets for their flare and laid-back fit, but also love being able to share my coat collection with my husband (or whoever!), and vice versa! It’s a playful way to switch things up without having to purchasing new. I think that the super glossy patent black colourway is having a moment. For those who love a cool factor and futuristic matrix vibes, you need to check out our new Frankie Trench coat in Liquorice, it’s the classic trench gone bold to elevate any look. I think this season, we are seeing a lot of brighter colours and I’m here for it. It conveys optimism, creativity, and it also helps express your mood. I’m obsessed with colour blocking and 90s/ early 2000s nostalgia references from TV to hip hop, and the resurgences of classics with more colour reiterations. The Balenciaga Motorcycle bag that we’ve been seeing everywhere is a good example of that—the new hues and textures bring a new twist to this emblematic bag.
Year after year, we’re confused when it comes to transition dressing. When it’s not quite cold, not quite warm, what’s your go to coat?
These days, I’ve been loving the Penner shacket in rose from our new collection, it’s versatile and cozy, so I can dream about spring without compromising on style and comfort, plus I just feel so cool wearing it, it has a classic aviator flare to it. Another favourite for when the weather is hard to predict is a light coloured jacket, like the Charlie. It’s a good transitional coat either for spring or for fall as you can easily layer it. As most of us invest in a neutral or dark coloured parkas to survive the cold Canadian winter, it feels good to wear lighter colourways, like a soft champagne, pink or sage green.
Top tips for winter-to-spring transition outerwear dressing?
Every year, when winter is coming to an end, my husband loves to (affectionately) make fun of me because I’m feeling the urge to dress for spring since, of course like every Canadian, I get very tired of the cold, but mostly because it feels like I’m always wearing the same thing. A rotation of sweaters, but mostly—same boots and same coat. My way out of this seasonal redundance is to have fun with my coat collection. It’s the last step of my routine, and it serves as a fun way to elevate and switch up my daily outfit by introducing more colour into the warmer days. I find it important to have good outerwear pieces to transition through, with a variety of different hues, lengths, and textures.
Win! Your Favourite Coat From FREED’s Spring 2022 Collection!
Congrats Lauren D. of Ajax, ON, who will be able to choose their favourite coat from FREED’s new spring collection, valued between $265 and $350! Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.