The FRESH: Ride DIY ’til you Die!
An Interview with Fresh Clothing Founder Jason Soroka
Words by Nick Hodgins — New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey — The Fresh Clothing is a Jersey based street apparel company started by its owner Jason Soroka in January of 2010. Born out of the basement of the Division East skate house in Montclair, The Fresh began with three t-shirt designs and grew to over 20 different available types of apparel.
Soroka was working a number of jobs when he was inspired by his roommates screen printing press in the basement, giving him the idea.
“I’d always been influenced by brands like Supreme, Mishka and Glamour Kills. I was working one day and just sort of connected the dots. I worked all summer to save up enough money to get those first three designs printed,” he said.
The Fresh is a punk rock, skater, and DIY (Do It Yourself) project. Soroka explained what the DIY lifestyle means to him. “The Fresh promotes the culture I was brought up by, not trying to take credit in inventing any of this,” he disclaimed, “I didn’t invent punk rock or DIY at all, but it’s who I am and it’s who my friends are and the people that buy The Fresh.” DIY is about staying real and not selling out. “The whole ‘DIY Til I Die’ thing is just a motivation to get off your ass and do it yourself instead of relying on somebody, as well as saying fuck you to the man, I don’t need you, I’m going to do it myself.”
A big part of advertising and marketing The Fresh stems from their photoshoots where they have the power to display how they envision their apparel being worn. Soroka describes The Fresh as trying to walk that line between grit and cool, while maintaining that certain level of nudity or risqué without coming off as tasteless. “What we try to do is something that is eye-catching, risqué, appealing and fresh,” Soroka said. “Not fresh in the sense of bold, but fresh like my mother used to call me when I’d curse and just act like a stupid kid,” he explained.
It’s not uncommon to see bands rocking The Fresh clothing during their shows, especially Jersey based bands. The Fresh apparel can be seen on bands such as The Wonder Years and Major League, in addition to countless others. Soroka broke down the process of working with different bands and making friends. “We don’t sit down with a band and say you do this for us and we’ll do this for you, the way we make friends has been really organic.” He went on to mention a local Jersey band called Ninety SIX. “I’ve known those kids my whole life, so when I started making shirts of course I’m going to help them out, and in return, not that I’m asking for it, they’ll throw us a plug on stage and let the crowd know we’re back there selling merch and to stop by after the show.”
Not to be confused with brands throwing their stuff at anyone who will wear it, The Fresh has a much more dignified approach when it comes to working with bands. “We don’t want to be the ones begging people to wear our stuff,” Soroka began, “We don’t come up to bands that are headlining and say here take all this free stuff from us, that’s not what we’re about.” But having been around the punk rock scene most of his life Soroka knows what it’s like for bands on tour. “What we like to do is trade,” he said, “Our friends in The Wonder Years may come up to us and say, ‘Hey I really like this pocket tee you just put out,’ and I’ll say yeah I really like that new record you just released on vinyl, let’s trade; we know they’re on tour, probably broke and need clothes to wear. This way we aren’t giving off the sense that we’re some stupid little brand you can just walk over.”
The Fresh’s presence can be found on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “It helps to keep everyone in the loop,” Soroka said. “We’ll put out whatever we’re up to and it keeps our friends and fans involved with us and vice versa.”
In the past The Fresh has held events they call social clubs in different areas throughout New Jersey and New York. They gather up bands and DJ’s and put on a free show, all while being sure not to fall into too much of a genre-specific niche. Soroka said, “We used to put on these free shows at the Meat Locker in Montclair which is basically a rave, but we used to have hardcore bands play, pop-punk, then maybe a folk or acoustic set and then follow it all with dubstep.”
If you check out The Fresh’s main website, you will see a link to their mixtapes page where Soroka assembles digital mixtapes free to play for anyone willing to take the time to listen. The concept came about when he was looking for a way to send new music to people that follow The Fresh, as well as to promote from within. “It has to do with my love for music, because I do love music very very much, it’s my number one, without music I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today,” he said.
The Fresh Clothing can be found in local skate shops and boutiques all across the North East, as well as online at TheFreshClothing.com and various shows.
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