Billy Corgan once sang of cool kids never having time. Yet this is not the case with the Garcia brothers who appear to have an international brand on their hands with their company Freedom City Apparel. “We represent and motivate everyone. Not only kids but adults as well to be themselves”, declares co-founder Alvin Garcia.
What Alvin and his brother Alfonso are promoting with their line aims to be in the mode of positive reinforcement but on a larger scale. Their apparel, which is anchored by the simple symbol of the park bench, is not only one that evokes a youthful spirit but that of community that may lead to a global phenomenon. “We want to be known as a movement, as a revolution” Alfonso shared candidly. “To ‘Live Free’ is to be yourself. Individuality. Because nowadays a lot of people follow and they follow trends and stuff like that and a lot of kids are afraid to be themselves. We just want to promote individuality. True happiness is when you are yourself. You’re at your finest when you are yourself. That’s basically the message in our minds and what we’re trying to spread.”
However, the message goes beyond encouraging one to express their individuality. The Garcia’s do see a bigger picture that goes beyond their apparel. They believe that their logo (“The Park Bench”) is a one that is universal and can transcend any cultural barriers that may exist. It should not take long to make sense of what the Garcia’s are doing with their apparel. People around the globe are not blind and do witness everyday life events unfolding on park benches or at the very least involving them. “You don’t have to speak a certain language in order to understand it”, asserts the slightly elder Garcia brother.
To think that the motivation for a simple street wear apparel line with a uniquely powerful message all stemmed from a series of incidents nearly five years ago where the brother’s found themselves being removed from parks for conducting humble gatherings. But here they are now poised to make a big break with their brand. They may not have the vocal chops à la Chris Cornell to sing to the masses to be themselves. Yet many who come across them and their brand find that the message they spread, whether it is verbally or visually, resonates in a positive manner as do their actions.
In the tradition of worthy cause marketing Freedom City Apparel has lent its brand to such charitable efforts like yearly Halloween candy giveaways for children, The Cavala Christmas Toy Drive and most recently at the United Palace Theatre for the Save the Youth (Stop Youth Violence Showcase). The latter event provided a venue for young artists to display their talents to a crowd of over 1,500 people in attendance on March 14th of this year. In the future the Garcia brothers plan to establish funding for after school programs that cultivate youth performance arts, provide different communities and neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs facelifts by having graffiti artists to do art pieces on walls and host spoken word events.
When asked if they believe they are a breath of fresh air in the fashion industry the Garcia’s simply and emphatically declared, “Yes!”