A T-shirt from Joe Freshgoods's new capsule collection in collaboration with McDonald's Credit: Courtesy of McDonald's

Joe Freshgoods is a king of authentic Chicago DIY street fashion. A cofounder of the FatTiger Workshop, Freshgoods has gone from selling his designs out of his garage in Pilsen to heading a leading streetwear brand in Chicago. 

A notable moment for the designer came in 2017, when Chicago native and longtime friend of Freshgoods Chance the Rapper accepted the Grammy for best rap performance while wearing a hoodie from Freshgoods’s “Thank you Obama” collection, which dropped on the former president’s last day in office. Although the category wasn’t featured on the televised broadcast, the moment has lived on through GIFs and other popular digital formats. Freshgood’s Chicago-area partnerships with Nike, Adidas, and the Chicago Bears came around the same time.  

Now Freshgoods has another opportunity to bring streetwear and the spirit of the Chicago DIY scene to national attention. Earlier this week, the designer announced via his label’s Instagram that he will launch an exclusive capsule collection to celebrate McDonald’s collaboration with Sprite on the new exclusive Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry beverage. Starting at 2 PM on Friday, May 25, patrons at select McDonald’s restaurants in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago will have the chance to receive an item of clothing from Freshgoods’s capsule collection with the purchase of any soft drink as long as supplies last. The collection will drop alongside an exclusive track and music video by multiplatinum rapper Kyle. Freshgoods says the opportunity to create the capsule collection was offered to him through a phone call, and no doubt inspired by his recent collaborations with other companies.

Freshgoods’s announcement of the partnership came with a look book of the designs in the collection, which include a wool-and-leather varsity jacket, socks, and short- and long- sleeve T-shirts. All of the designs feature the Sprite and McDonald’s logos, but Freshgoods’s own logo, a bold number “18” colored in a white and pink gradient, is most prominent. “I’m a fan of vintage racing jackets,” he said. “Given that I had to use a lot of logos, it was pretty much inspired by racing kits from back in the day.” Although Freshgoods describes himself as being an artist of no structure, the clothes in the collection are easily recognizable as his with their bold pops of color, large pieces of text, and detailed graphics. The only thing missing is the word “Chicago,” another typical feature of both Freshgoods’s designs and Chicago Streetwear.

There is no word yet if items from the capsule collection will be available for purchase after Friday. But even its daylong release will be a game-changer for the Joe Freshgoods label and Chicago streetwear. While Freshgoods’s designs have been featured in significant partnerships with well-known brands, none have been as accessible as McDonald’s, since the collection is being released across the country.

At first glance, a DIY streetwear brand and a megacorporate fast-food chain look and feel like an odd pairing. Andrea Abate, manager of media relations in McDonald’s corporate offices, explained that the partnership came as a result of stylistic and geographical connections: “Similar to McDonald’s, Joe Freshgoods is based in Chicago and his signature aesthetic features a blend of styles and influences that personify the overarching Mix by Sprite Tropic Berry program.”

With the McDonald’s partnership, Freshgoods is bringing Chicago DIY into the mainstream while still staying true to his original goals of representing his city through design. Throughout his career, he has pushed for Chicago to have strong representation in DIY streetwear around the world, something that is shown through his own brands. His “Don’t Be Mad” collection notably features “Chicago” on many designs, including a jacket that says “Made in a Chicago Hood” in large text and a “Save Chicago” cap. Now, Freshgoods’s goal of seeing Chicago brands make a splash outside of the city is more realized than ever. “For me to be a Chicago designer doing something this big will be great for representation,” he says.

Freshgoods will be promoting his collection at the McDonald’s at 1380 W. Lake in the West Loop. All of the participating McDonald’s locations in the Chicago area and more information about how to obtain a Freshgoods design can be found here.