What do AI artwork, thrifting, Southern California ecology, music production and a family-owned nursery in LA’s Japantown have in common? Each inspired the sustainable design framework that guided four Pitzer College students as they formed their brand. Future Under Fire is a label that represents a clothing brand, extracurricular club, community of creatives and a vision for the future, all at once.
Future Under Fire’s founders, Darrell Opoku PZ ’26, Sam Freeman PZ ’26, Dylan Bradshaw PZ ’26 and Charlie Morris ’26, met in 2022 during their first year at Pitzer. By the end of the spring semester, they planned to create a club focused on sustainable fashion and reworked garments at the start of this school year.
Last summer, Morris and Opoku produced original garments at a fashion studio in Worcester, Massachusetts, a short distance from their hometown of Boston. Instagram reels filmed at the studio show them screen printing, sketching designs on a tablet and modeling their clothing amid piles of original designs, many of which are available for sale on their website.
“We would be there until 7 a.m. spending all night there unbothered, painting, spraying [and] bouncing ideas off each other,” Morris said.
Freeman frequently commuted from New York City while Bradshaw worked remotely from Riverside, California. The group collaborated on their vision for Future Under Fire’s fall launch through FaceTime calls, texts and a hefty Google Drive folder.
“We had set a pretty serious deadline of having a first collection and then having the Instagram and the website up and running,” Morris said.
By the start of this school year, they were ready to roll out Future Under Fire’s first collection, which appeared on the group’s website on Aug. 27. The collection features pieces displaying scenes from Pitzer’s campus including shirts with screen prints of the college’s iconic clock tower, as well as other original designs.
“The schools and scenery and environment around them [inspire our designs],” Freeman said. “Some of the prints that you can see in our first collection … are edited pictures of the campus itself.”
Although many of the subjects portrayed in Future Under Fire’s first collection are places, the creators drew their inspiration from a number of sources. Morris highlighted blending fashion with other artistic passions.
“A lot of my specific inspiration comes from my passion for music and music production,” Morris said.
Bradshaw discussed bringing his own identity into his work.
“[An] inspiration for me is popular culture, but also from an African-American perspective,” Bradshaw said. “I have some designs that I’ve been working on where I’m trying to highlight Black creatives.”
“When I think of Future Under Fire, I think of a collective of individuals with creative minds,” Dylan Bradshaw PZ ’26, a founder, said. “Future Under Fire is more than just a club. It’s more than just an organization. It’s a reflection of the creative minds here at the 5Cs. And we’re trying to spread that outside of Claremont as well.”
The founders of Future Under Fire’s creative projects extend beyond repurposing clothing; they also produce videos on local communities. Last semester, Morris and Bradshaw filmed a documentary on Hashimoto Nursery, a family-owned plant nursery in LA’s Japantown.
“We wanted to highlight these businesses as often they go overlooked or unnoticed,” Bradshaw said. “This ties into Future Under Fire in the sense that we’re trying to continue this theme of sustainability, especially in Southern California.”
The founders are also exploring collaborations with local ecological organizations, including Pitzer College’s Robert Redford Conservancy and Sustainable Claremont.
Plans for a 5C-wide clothing repurposing workshop are currently in the works. The Future Under Fire founders hope to build community and inspire creativity through their events.
“There will be booths where [participants] can do spray painting and that sort of thing themselves, but we also want to have a good amount of people there to just enjoy themselves and have a good time,” Bradshaw said.
“I feel like everyone has a sort of creative side to them and one goal with Future Under Fire is to bring that … out of even the most unexpected of people,” Bradshaw said.
They plan to release more drops in the future, exploring new materials, garments and techniques.
“For our next drop we’re hoping to get a lot more into women’s clothing and new types of materials and garments, looking beyond just t-shirts, pants [and] hoodies,” Morris said. “Sam and Darrell did a lot with screen printing, and Sam does a lot of sewing work as well. So we’re really trying to get into more patchwork looking at denim working with new types of materials.”
A closet full of unworn clothes was just the beginning for Future Under Fire. With more plans along the way, the brand intends to expand its reach to draw in more creatives around the 5Cs and beyond.
“When I think of Future Under Fire, I think of a collective of individuals with creative minds,” Bradshaw said. “Future Under Fire is more than just a club. It’s more than just an organization. It’s a reflection of the creative minds here at the 5Cs. And we’re trying to spread that outside of Claremont as well.”