May 24, 2012

Freedom from Doubt – An Interview with Designer Jared Zachary


By: Austin J.

Jared Zachary is a young gentleman in his mid-20s. When I was living in Minneapolis, I would oftentimes spot him in the city casually wearing a well-tailored suit. In an era where 3-piece suits have become more of a fashion statement than day-to-day attire for the common man, Jared Zachary is re-introducing classic elements of fashion to the street.  I am intrigued by Jared’s emphasis on
utilizing high standards in his choice of materials. Short production runs and well-selected textiles yield menswear that is unique and refined.


Austin J: When was Freedom from Doubt created?

Jared Zachary: The brand was officially established in 2009.  It began unofficially late 2008. In early 2009, I was getting a lot into fashion, which came from moving from a rural community in South Dakota to Minneapolis. That was a culture shock, and
it opened up a whole new world for me. A major aspect of living in the city was being perceptive to what people were wearing. The art and culture and music scene was something that I was drawn to because I didn’t get exposed to a lot of that growing up. Before I moved to Minneapolis my friends were telling me I was going to get lost here, I was going to just be another person on the street, and it made me think a lot about my presence in the city. Once I got here I found that I wanted to find my niche in Minneapolis. I saw street style as a way that I could stand out. I was working in the retail industry so I was aware of the style people wear wearing day to day. In 2008, I was in my senior year of college and I was studying in architecture. While I was in school, I decided I wanted to break into fashion design but I also wanted to finish with my architecture degree, which I did in 2009. During Christmas break, I had some spare time and one of my goals was to learn how to sew. My girlfriend at the time taught me the basics of how to use her sewing machine, and that was the creation of Freedom from Doubt. My two aspirations were to make a velvet bow tie and a leather bow tie, which were items that I wanted to wear with outfits. I was trying to emulate some ties I had seen in fashion magazines and on television and also produce things that were unique. My first ties were inspired by some 70s ties I had seen. In may of 2009, I had some friends that were aware of what I had made and they asked me to make some for them, so I made some pieces and realized that I could sell them and began to do so online.

Austin J: What inspired the name Freedom from Doubt?

Jared Zachary: I started with just the name “Jared Zachary” which is my first and middle name, but I wanted to create a brand name and symbol that was more iconic than just myself so I thought for a few months about what I would call my line. I would go to the bar and be hanging out with my friends while thinking of brand names but I wasn’t really getting anywhere. I realized that the main thing I wanted from wearing the bow ties was confidence. In the definition of self-confidence the first 3 words are “freedom from doubt”.
I chose that phrase because it was much more than a name. There was a meaning behind it.

Austin J: How do you distinguish yourself from other men’s neckwear brands?

Jared Zachary: I don’t necessarily research the market, but I know what’s out there because I am not only a creator in the market but I am also a consumer, I love accessories – I love styling. What I want to wear changes season to season. I don’t have a fashion background- I have an architectural background. I have worked with a few designers and I worked with someone that allowed for me to re-envision my design process. I feel like everyone has a pie chart of how much they are inspired by his or her inside and outside
environments. My main source of inspiration is being a pedestrian in Minneapolis. I slow down and observe everything that is going on around me, whether it is color or texture. My main inspiration is texture. Texture is my biggest passion- both in dissecting what inspires me and putting that dissection back together to translate to someone through a new avenue. That dissection sets me apart. Because I’m designing bowties, there aren’t a lot of different cuts, so something that sets me apart is my use of color and texture. Textures are the
emphasis and colors are secondary, so I use more muted tones. The colors have been coming through more and more each season. What I look for is new and different colors that you cant find in a 12-piece crayon box. I want colors that are rich but not extreme. That’s a battle I like to fight every season. I started out making ready-tie bowties, which, in classic fashion, is seen as an amateur way
to dress up. I think fashionable people feel like its not high-fashion to wear pre-tied bowties. I understand that people want to tie their own bowties. What I wanted to do was take ready-ties to that level. When people see one of my ready-tie bowties I want them to perceive it as a self-tie bowtie. In the current market, when you see a pre-tied bow tie its two flat pieces of silk next to each other, it is usually black and it looks like something worn by wait staff. I wanted people to see that my ties were set apart from that, being more sophisticated and appropriate for more formal events as well as serving as street wear accessories.

Austin J: What was your muse for your Spring line?

Jared Zachary: Basically this season I knew that I wanted to take what I had done up to this pint and take my success that I had and push myself color-wise while keeping the emphasis on texture. I would see this yellow color that caught my eye, and I decided to use it. I wanted to take this color that was a combination of gold, mustard and bright yellow and utilize it with my label. I like going and looking at hundreds of fabrics and seeing various colors and textures and that helps me narrow down what I am looking to do. I
was seeking certain fabrics and prints. I was grabbing a lot of things that re-inspired me- what I saw flashed me back to the different theories I had of pastoral scenes. There was an ad campaign that I had seen where photos were taken with a lot of gravel, sand, and brick in the background. The earthy feel of the images reminded me of an indigenous culture that I had learned about in school. They
made all of their own textiles, and built their own homes. I wanted to convey the feeling that comes with handmade goods.
What I imagined was unique handmade weaves- and that stuck me as what I thought hand made ties were supposed to be about. I wanted to take these textures I had found and experiment and hand dye all of the fabrics. Like I said before, I wanted to take this yellow color and make it my own. It was yellow with a little green and a hint of brown. In color mixing, my only experience was with
mixing paint and I really wanted to try hand dying my textiles for this season. One other goal for this season was to make my process more important to my final product. So I cut a lot of fabric swatches out and dyed them, trying different colors with each. That was a really intense process for me, but it worked out in the end and I achieved the effect I was going for.

Austin J:  Bow ties are seen as a more formal menswear item, and Freedom from Doubt reintroduces the bowtie as a versatile streetwear piece, what occasions do you find most appropriate for rocking a bow tie?

Jared Zachary: I think a lot about the streetwear in Minneapolis, and what I wanted to do was create a bridge between casual and
formal wear and make that accessible. A formal event is going to be a great occasion to wear a bowtie, but the lifestyle fashion of this line is about accessorizing your daily look. I rep my product myself and I am not embarrassed about that. I have done a studded bowtie, a denim bowtie and a leather bowtie. So if you were asking what kind of event I would wear it to… I want people to feel comfortable wearing a bow tie without needing an event at all. I have worn a bow tie with a leather jacket to a dive bar. Weddings and formal events are obvious places to wear bowties. I want people to wear them to sushi or in their workplace. Bowties don’t hang far off of your body so they are functional in more dynamic settings. Bow ties don’t have to be such a novelty. They can be everyday accessories.

Austin J: What barriers have you had to overcome as an up-and-coming designer?

Jared Zachary: One challenge is time. I am always trying to organize my time according to my busy schedule. Fashion seems to happen in two major waves, one in Fall and one in the Spring. I have a lot to do in a very short amount of time. I find sometimes I am pulling all nighters. Some weeks I am getting a total amount of sleep that some people get in two nights. My biggest obstacle is sourcing; I want to keep everything handmade in the United States, whether made by me or not. And I want to keep my products competitive in price with what is made abroad. My clientele is different than most big retailers, so there is a niche for me in the market. But for me to really make it, it is going to be a heavy weight to carry in competing with large-scale manufacturers.

Austin J: What is your favorite flavor?

Jared Zachary: I love to cook, I am sort of an amateur foodie, and my favorite flavor is thyme. Thyme to me is a great bridge between
sweet and salty.

Austin J: What designers do you look up to?

Jared Zachary: A designer that inspires me is John Varvatos. His main inspiration is rock and roll. I have some leather wingtips by John Varvatos, which are well made and work as something that can make a seamless transition from the street to the nightlife scene. Siki Im, a designer and teacher at Parsons school of design is someone that has really inspired me, I met him my first time in New York and I interned for him at the New York fashion week. He really inspired me with his fabric choices, they were all very dark and there was almost no color, but the texture was exquisite. He used textiles such as fine Japanese cashmere and it was nothing like I had ever seen
before- it showed me a new definition of luxury and that was my realization of the importance of texture. That brought my attention to the opportunity for the nuance that texture can provide. I have worked with him on three fashion week projects in New York. Through working with Siki Im, I’ve learned a great deal of what goes into the design process, including the sociological and psychological aspects that go into the production of each collection. Also, he has taught me  alot about fashion as a business, and in those ways he has been a major mentor to me, probably without even knowing it. Another designer I really like is Tom Ford, he has created an empire and shown me that I can do anything- I want to eventually have a full line. I got into architecture because I wanted to design the world around me- inside and outside- focusing on the choice of materials. I really want to design socks, underwear, jackets, denim, and the luggage that
you would put all this stuff in. Tom Ford does all that and more, he makes movies- he does it all. If People were motivated enough to do what they thought about, the world would be so crazy. I didn’t go to school for this, but here I am making fashion and I want to keep doing it.

Freedom from Doubt menswear can be found at the following
retailers in Minneapolis: Atmosfere, Elsworth, Heimie’s, Martin Patrick 3, and

And online at:

All photgraphy by: Jeffrey Bryce Bordenkecher




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