Freeman is handmade in Seattle for Seattle.
Eight years ago Brittany and Scott Freeman sat down to their kitchen table in their small Lower Queen Anne apartment. Armed with his cabinetry-making skills, her scant experience with her grandmother’s hand-me-down Singer sewing machine, and a pile of paper bags from QFC, they began to draft the “perfect” Seattle rain coat. Scott’s favorite vintage North Face jacket had worn threadbare and he couldn’t find anything like it.
How hard could it be to design a jacket? The Northwest natives—she was born and raised in the University District, he on Whidbey Island—worked through trial and error, iterating designs and eventually created a coat that not only met Scott’s standards, but hit on a timeless and chic look that was missing from the glut of hyper-technical designs found in the high-performance outerwear market.
The Freeman jacket’s lines are clean and straight, more akin to a hiking slicker from the ’60s or ’70s than a high-tech tarp bunched around the body. Despite its simplicity, the outer shell is made with a top-grade, waterproof, breathable two-ply nylon fabric. The inside is lined with soft, checkered flannel.
Friends and family began requesting the coat, so much so that in 2011 the Freemans moved out of their apartment and in with Brittany’s mother, committing their entire savings to the production of 100 jackets, which they planned to sell online. A year later, a Japanese company discovered them and placed a large order. Still, for the next few years the couple continued to work full-time jobs, living slim to make ends meet.
It paid off. By 2013 they were dreaming about opening a brick-and-mortar shop. After many conversations over many beers, they found an unexpected business partner in their friend Alex Frank, who was in law school at the time, realizing his passion for outerwear eclipsed his interest in practicing law. In early 2014, Frank and the Freemans
got the keys to their storefront in the historic Loveless Building on Capitol Hill. Freeman Seattle is a one-stop shop for menswear, and everything in the store is emphatically made in the USA.
“We thought it would be great to develop a store—a very Seattle store,” Brittany says, standing in the crisply organized boutique, which has the nostalgic warmth of an old dry goods shop. In addition to racks of jackets in this season’s colors—moss, navy, dijon, grey—there are
rows of stacked denim and shelves stocked with grooming miscellany like Imperial beard pomades, colognes and body washes from Berkeley-based company Juniper Ridge and shave cream from Vermont-based Ursa Major. The array of products in the store includes reproductions of mid-century Seattle-themed felt pennants featuring the Space Needle and Mt. Rainier, Railcar Fine Goods denim, PF Flyers tennis shoes and the Red Wing Heritage line of boots. Since opening the store, the Freemans have slowly integrated other products by like-minded manufactures they’ve met at trade shows.
Going against typical design philosophy, the Freemans have no intention of changing the fundamental design of their original jacket, apart from the occasional tweak.
“You see a friend who has the raincoat and they come to the store and it’s not like, oh that was last season.” Brittany says. “They know they can come here and get the same quality, Seattle-made raincoat that they heard about, that they saw. It’s going to be the same coat. We have these other brands in the store to keep things moving and interesting, while still offering the classic coat, that one object.”
The newest thing to grace the Freeman shelves is a line of their take on the henley, offered in olive and ox red, inspired by vintage rugby jerseys and made with an impossibly soft, heavyweight cotton French terry. Other Freeman-designed coats are a Seattle-ish spin on the Baracuta Harrington-style jacket and the Junction Parka, a modified version of the Freeman with a slightly longer cut and elevated handwarmer pockets lined in flannel. Unlike the evergreen, eponymous jacket on which the brand is built, the Freeman line of flannel shirts is produced in micro-batches, making as many shirts as can be cut from a single bolt of fabric—usually around 30.
Finally, there’s the Lady Freeman. Nearly identical to the men’s cut, this iteration of the raincoat comes more cinched at the waist, with slimmer shoulders. So far it’s the only item designed for women, but since Brittany recently left her day job to devote herself to pattern-making, more women’s pieces may be coming.
713 Broadway E, freemanseattle.com