Today is a good day. In fact, today is a very good day!
Not only has the first @clobbercalm collection gone live and been made available for you to browse and acquire if you so choose but tonight our Monday night feature focuses on the ever popular @3sixteen.
For me the attitude of this company was summed up perfectly when I first contacted Mr Andrew Chen (Co-Owner). I asked if, he thought, he might have the time to take a look at this feature and possibly take part? I assured him that the readers’ loved his company and that the traffic to the site had been very good. Andrew replied, almost instantly, stating that of course he had the time and that the traffic to the site was not important to him but the opportunity to talk to his customers on such a platform was paramount.
It never ceases to amaze me how great all the brands, we are currently talking to, are when it comes to having a little fun with this and it’s humbling that they have the time to humour my little hobby.
Anyways, you’re not here to listen to me so people…
MEET THE BRAND BEHIND THE MENSWEAR
NAME: Andrew Chen
ESTABLISHED: Fall 2013
LOCATION: NYC and LA
SIZE OF TEAM: 6 employees
SPECIALITY/COMPANY FOCUS: Jeans, tees, shirts and outerwear
1. Straight forward, please tell us, how did your company 3sixteen start out?
We got our start in 2003 making graphic tshirts for the streetwear market. At the time, streetwear was a very different landscape; instead of brand and logo-driven graphics that dominate mall stores like PacSun or Zumiez, we were influenced and inspired by small brands on both coasts that were artist and music driven, and independently owned. Some were full time jobs, others were side projects. There were probably 5 stores in the country that carried the kinds of tees we were into. Over the next few years, the industry exploded and small operations became million dollar businesses with heavy investment behind them. We chose to stay self-funded, which is a decision that we are very thankful for to this day.
Around 2007 we began exploring the idea of making a full collection – shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, jeans, footwear – and when we launched it in 2008, most of the stores we were selling to were not able to carry it due to the high retail prices. We had designed clothing that was representative of our tastes and interests and it ended up being too expensive for our current market. We went from 120+ retailers worldwide to 20 in a season or two. What we found, though, was that even though our customer base had shrunken, it had become more loyal and more focused. Of everything we made in that Fall 2008 collection, the denim took off fastest. Kiya Babzani of Self Edge was a friend of ours and gave us some insight as we developed our first pair of jeans, the SL-100x. In the beginning of 2009, he brought it into Self Edge SF and had us develop our first slim cut, the ST-100x. We then partnered up with Kiya and Demitra later that year to help open up Self Edge NY, which served as a home base for our jeans in NYC; and the following summer, we helped open up Self Edge LA. Our partnership with Self Edge helped our brand immensely and pushed us to continue improving our jeans in every possible aspect.
2. Tell us. What does a day in the life of yourself look like? What’s your daily work routine?
It starts with dropping my two boys off at school early in the morning and then heading into our office. I arrive between 9 and 10am and make some coffee, check emails, and put together a to-do list for the day. In the NY office, our responsibilities include design, sales, marketing, content, and finance – so I’m usually working on any number of tasks related to those responsibilities throughout the day. I try to schedule my meetings in the afternoons to get a quick break from the computer, and will also run across the way to check in on Self Edge NY, which is located directly behind our office. I’ll head home between 6-7pm on a normal day to be able to sit down and have dinner with my family.
3. What are your top 3 bestselling items? Why do you think this is?
Our bestselling jean is the ST-100x. It’s one of the oldest models we made and has been in production for over seven years now. The two beginning letters – ST – stand for the slim tapered fit the jean features, and the 100x indicates that it’s a raw indigo selvedge denim. To be precise, it’s our 14.5oz flagship indigo selvedge that Kuroki makes exclusively for us. We’ve sold lots of pairs of this jean and it continues to lead the pack year in and year out. People will always need a classic pair of blue jeans.
The Shadow Selvedge Type 3s Jacket is probably the fastest selling item we make. Granted, we make more jeans than we do tops but each time we run the Shadow Type 3s, it sells it almost instantly. We attribute this to the overall combination of fit and fabric. Johan envisioned this particular iteration of the Type 3 jacket to be a slim-fitting piece that can function either as a outer or mid layer depending on what serves the wearer best. Typically, people will just wear a tee or a light button down with the Type 3s but going up a size will allow for fleece to be worn underneath. The Shadow denim is another proprietary fabric woven for us by Kuroki: it’s an indigo warp/black weft denim that fades with beautiful high contrast, and quickly too.
As far as sheer volume goes, our heavyweight t-shirts come in first. We designed them to be a solid, long-lasting basic that pairs easily with your jeans and they have been extremely well received. While no t-shirt will fit everyone well, we seem to have come up with a fit that many enjoy. The beefy jersey that’s knit for us in Canada has a substantial hand and I personally really love the tight collar that won’t sag over time.
4. What’s your personal favourite garment when it comes to the items you manufacture?
For me it’s the CT cut of jeans that we added to our lineup almost two years ago. As a guy with bigger thighs, most jeans that I wear end up quite restrictive in the top block for the first few months of wear (and sometimes for the life of the jean). If I want to wear a cut that is flattering from the knee down, I end up having to size up in the waist to where it’s too big for me. The CT jean solves this problem for me and for many other guys. It’s got a high rise (which is really comfortable), a roomy top block and a nice taper from the knee down to give a clean silhouette that doesn’t make the wearer look top heavy. We launched it in our 100x fabric in and it’s grown quickly in popularity; as of now it’s available in three additional fabrics. I’ve been wearing a pair of CT-100x jeans since launch, so they’ve got about 1.5 years of wear in on them so far. This is by far my favorite cut that we make.
5. What are your thoughts on the rise of Instagram fashion and the chaps that post their clothing on there to help spread the word of their fave brands?
This is going to be a long one. I think it’s great in the sense that it builds a sense of community. Growing up on the internet, all my niche interests had central places of discussion where like minded people could get together to discuss and learn about their hobby. Before Instagram and Reddit, I frequented all kinds of message boards – automotive, hip hop, fashion. What I see now on Instagram is an extension of those communities I was a part of, which is cool. I do see some drawbacks, one being that conversations cannot be as in depth (how much can you write in the comment section beyond where to buy something?) so learning is limited. Some of my favorite message boards were no-BS zones where if you spoke on a topic you were ill informed in, you got put in your place quickly. What might have seemed a bit of a harsh environment at first resulted in a self-policed area where only solid, useful content was put forth. You lose some of that in newer mediums, and to a certain extent the end result is a bit of a race for likes and a desire to buy more simply to keep up with others. That happened on message boards too, but it all seems amplified now. That being said – people should communicate with each other in the way that they feel most natural, and I definitely see a lot of good things coming from Instagram.
6. Has it made an impact on your business at all, do you think?
It’s clearly made an impact on our business. Instagram has been a way for us to get to know and form relationships with many of the customers who love what we do and support it so passionately. It gives us energy and motivation to try and improve at what we do when we see that our products have a positive effect on the people who invest in them.
7. Is there any feeds on IG that you particularly like to check-in on regular. What brands are you fond of on there? What menswear feeds to you like to peruse?
I think you have the menswear accounts pretty well covered, so I’ll go in another direction and share a few outside of fashion that I enjoy:
@vitsoe: This company is based in the UK and makes shelving and furniture according to Dieter Rams’ original specifications. A good friend of mine (@joshitiola, also a good follow) started working there which made me look at their products more closely, and I’ve since become a customer and a believer. The shelving is incredibly simple and yet versatile, giving endless options to arrangements. Their Instagram shows off lots of customer buildouts and it’s always fun for me to see the different way in which people use the systems.
@thejaunt: This is a really interesting one. The Jaunt is a project run by Jeroen Smeets, an agency director from the Netherlands. He tracks down artists he loves and offers to send them on a one-week inspiration trip free of charge. The trip is paid for by pre-sales of an art print that this artists will create at the end of said trip. So as a customer, you take a look at the next artist up, you decide on whether you want to roll the dice on buying a piece of art that has not yet been revealed, and if you buy it the proceeds go towards the cost of the trip. Each print is limited to 50 units and if any are available afterwards, you have the option to buy it at a higher (yet still quite reasonable) price. This account documents the travels of each artist and then reveals the final output; it’s really fun to follow along and discover new places to add to your vacation bucket list. I’ve also bought several prints from the project thus far.
@theimportanceofbeingmodernist: For my daily dose of brutalist architecture.
8. A quick one about you. Other than the business, what passions do you have in life? What flicks your switch and helps you relax?
I have a beautiful wife and two very energetic boys that I love spending time with, so our weekends are typically pretty action packed with stuff we like to do together. In the summertime, for instance, we enjoy going to Mets games. I really like cooking even though I’m not particularly great at it; making something tasty and enjoying it with friends is a pretty special thing. The occasional cigar and scotch is a great way for me to end a long work day or close out a weekend. I’m also by no means a record collector but have been buying LPs that I love over the past few years to have some kind of physical media to be able to play for my boys, and that’s been a lot of fun. I keep some at the office and some at home, and rotate them back and forth so there’s always something new to listen to in both places.
9. What do you consider to be the best thing about your business and why?
The best thing about 3sixteen is that it’s a job that I love and am passionate about – and because I spent 7 years in corporate America at a job I disliked, it’s something I try to remind myself of every day. Sorry if this wasn’t the kind of answer you were looking for but it’s a truthful one. (CC ~ Cheers to that Andrew!)
10. And Lucky Last, You’re going to be stranded on a desert island and you can take 1 outfit (4 items) only with you. And 1 choice of drink.
What would they be? And Why?
If it’s a desert island I’d bring two t-shirts, a pair of board shorts and some flip flops. And I’ll take a strawberry daiquiri, please.
Andrew that’s such a good read, it’s great to get such an insight into a company like @3sixteen. You are mentioned so much by the chaps on the Thursday features so, from us all, thanks for taking the time buddy! It’s kind of ironic that you’re the first dude not to take any denim onto the island. This is probably another sign of your intelligence, after all it is a desert island!
Ok so you already know about the @clobbercalm collection (available as of now) and we have mentioned the one-off Tuesday feature taking place tomorrow that focuses on the awesome peeps behind the products in the collection so that’s it for today!
Oh one last thing…Thursday & next Monday!
Thursday sees my bro Johan aka @johanmalik80 take the stage as the chap behind the menswear so make sure you check him out in advance if you haven’t already. Then next Monday sees another company with a stellar rep in the denim world, this time we’re honing in on the Japanese manufacturer @kojimagenesxsf. Hidemitsu (Founder) has taken the time out to sport a feature for us. Having grown up surrounded by denim from birth and with a vast knowledge and love for our beautiful threads make sure you swing by as @kojimagenesxsf answers the @clobbercalm 10@10.
Its busy, busy, busy so have a cracking week people and thanks for stopping by! Don’t forget to subscribe below for the occasional chance to get cool stuff 😉
Stay close and catch y’all soon.