Since its launch earlier this year, London-based CareFree has quietly established a cult-presence in an oversaturated T-shirt market. Founded by Damian Malontie, the brand has so far only released a couple of T-shirts, with made-to-order tees dropping for pre-order at rare occasions. The products are made from high-quality cotton with designs like a popular Seinfeld-style pink and turquoise logo printed on. Despite the low-key release of the T-shirts, CareFree has attracted a strong following in London.
The project wasn’t always meant to be a label and has its roots in a blog ran by Malontie. The site — which Malontie explains was “showcasing books I was reading and think pieces I’d written” — didn’t really last, and so he sought something that more accurately reflected himself, leading to him launching a new blog. “I started doing tees firstly to promote this new website,” he explains, “which basically documents real people contributing to culture in an authentic way, those who have something meaningful to say and deserve more shine.”
“There’s far more important things to cop instead of another tee. So I’ve got to make sure each product bangs.”
That new website still exists — it shares a home with the CareFree web store — and is currently a mix of quotes, videos and images chosen by Malontie. The ethos behind both the clothing and the blog is the same. “It definitely stems from sharing knowledge, being real to yourself and celebrating that by rocking fly gear,” Malontie explains, “it’s about spreading independent thinking and positivity.”
Although CareFree has grown in popularity as a T-shirt label, Malontie still sees the blog as the core. “This is where you see what CareFree is all about,” he adds, “the clothing is sort of like the diet version, the blog is for those that want some and then some extra. It just sheds a bit of light on people I think are doing/have done good stuff.” As it stands, Malontie is using the clothing to “get the world familiar with CareFree,” but, over time, the relationship will change: “in the future clothing will draw inspiration from the stuff posted on the blog.”
The early days of CareFree have partly been influenced by Malontie’s experience, which includes working for Patta and influential streetwear distributor Gimme5. “There’s no better school to come from, not just in London, but the whole scene,” he recalls, “I guess the two companies have their ways of working which is true to them and their people. I like to think CareFree does the same.”
Another key element of the brand is the focus on quality, which Malontie attributes to real life experience. “I understand the grind people are on and there’s far more important things to cop instead of another tee,” he explains, “So I’ve got to make sure each product bangs.” This is part of CareFree’s quick — and organic — rise, with a build-it-and-they’ll-come mentality. “People can see it’s coming from a real place and I’m not just doing it to make a quick pound, I’m actually trying to build something. I guess people are genuinely feeling the message, it’s refreshing to see.” Malontie also references how the blog and the T-shirts work in tandem: “CareFree is like that older brother, so when he’s trying to put you on, you’re more likely to take it on board because it’s communicated in a way that’s relatable to you.”
“People can see its coming from a real place and I’m not just doing it to make a quick pound.”
Rather than just being a clothing brand, Malontie sees CareFree as an information platform, although he isn’t clear how this will develop. “Maybe bitesize quotes on a tee or on the website from relatable people saying something of substance,” he suggests. For Malontie, the sharing of information and ideas is a responsibility, rather than an add-on message to his clothing. “We should be the pioneers,” he adds, “whilst also introducing this generation to the unexpected and lesser known, freethinkers who came before us within all types of creativity, but who could easily relate to our journey.”
Moving forward, Malontie is keen to expand what CareFree offers. By Summer 2019, he’s hoping to have a full collection that will be available at select retailers rather than just the individual drops so far. But, more importantly, the brand — including the blog — will continue to highlight the bigger picture. “CareFree will be that link between issues that affect our culture and our generation,” explains Malontie, “there’s too much clickbait news up for grabs, I’m just trying to offer an alternative.”
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