Denim lovers in the New York City area, brace yourselves. Art and luxury fashion collide— as they often do— but this time in the form of denim factory/store/gallery 3x1. The shop at 15 Mercer St. in SoHo includes a complete jean manufacturing facility— but it’s not the kind of factory setting that you might assume. The space is a true work of art, structured to provide a luxury experience to its customers on a daily basis.
Scott Morrison is the main man behind the project, and as he likes to put it, 3x1 is an entirely new concept in a denim brand that invites the customer to participate in the design process. Morrison, 3x1’s founder, doubles as the designer of the brand’s entire ready to wear collections, as well as the design details used in the custom made and bespoke jeans. And the production of the jeans? He’s part of that, too. “I personally oversee most of the jeans during the final inspection or if they’re being washed in our Wet x 1 finish,” he assured me.
Morrison knows what he’s doing when it comes to this kind of a thing— he’s no newbie to the business. The denim vet developed an interest for the clothing industry while in college, and soon began doing marketing for a Seattle designer. It was there that he learned what it takes to run a business in a successful market, and just over a year later, he founded one of his own. Paper Denim & Cloth was Morrison’s first premium jeans brand, which he developed as its president and designer for five years before switching gears. Earnest Sewn, Morrison’s second denim business, “was a direct reflection of my passion for quality, the Japanese aesthetic principle ‘wabi-sabi,’ (or finding beauty in imperfection) and an ever-present love of American heritage,” he told me. After another five years with that venture, Morrison briefly worked on the business side of a Japanese denim label, and then finally launched 3x1 in 2011.
“I’ve always loved the denim business— from the minute I walked into that first factory and laundry, I always found the process itself to be an inspiration,” Morrison said, and that’s where his concept for 3x1 came from. “The idea of inviting people in that process was a logical next step for me— both conceptually and from a brand-building standpoint.” The elite shop includes a 4,000 square foot retail and gallery space as well as a 3,200 square foot design studio. A team of just 11 to 13 sewing staff plus four people working in finishing and one or two cutters (depending on the day) design, manufacture and wash everything on the premises. With no assembly line, no computer cutting system, and no automated sewing or pocket machine in sight, 3x1 is a true atelier. No more than 20 pairs of jeans are made each day, allowing for ample attention to detail— detail that the patron gets to have a say in.
Each pair of jeans at 3x1 is tailored for the customer as limited edition, custom made or bespoke. Patrons get to choose the hem and buttons of limited edition pairs, and the back pockets, fabric and thread theory of custom made pairs. For a bespoke pair of jeans, the customer gets to work individually with Morrison himself or with 3x1’s bespoke specialist, as well as with the brand’s head pattern-maker in order to create his or her own pair of jeans from start to finish. The process focuses on more than 31 different technical components to a jean— and the customer has the luxury of playing a pretty large role in this process, choosing design details such as thread theory, buttons, rivets, zippers, embroidery, and even monogramming.
It’s this level of personalization that makes 3x1 high-end and a step ahead of the game. Morrison, a jeans expert in his own right, predicts that customization will play an increasingly important role in the future of not only denim, but fashion altogether. “Consumers are always looking to discover new things and make them their own,” Morrison said, “And it’s getting harder and harder to find something truly unique with most brands selling globally and having the ability to reach customers anywhere via e-commerce.”
We’re not the only ones who think that Morrison and 3x1 are up to something revolutionary. The label’s clientele is overflowing with celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Orlando Bloom, Miranda Kerr, Karlie Kloss, Justin Bieber, Chloe Sevigny, and Tony Parker. But Morrison assures me that while his brand is fortunate enough to work with such big name stars, 3x1 was created with three different types of clients in mind. The denim aficionado, the made-to-measure guy, and the fashion girl may have different aesthetics, but there’s one thing they all share in common: “They all want something unique with quality and integrity behind it,” Morrison said.
If you happen to find yourself wanting something well-made and exclusive from 3x1, there are a few things that Morrison encourages you to think about in regards to your future dream jeans. Don’t opt for back pockets that don’t match the rest of your measurements (they should be proportionate to the size of the leg panel and the length of your inseam.) When you’re in the store, buy your jeans a bit on the tight side. “I promise you, they’ll feel just right in an hour or two,” Morrison said, as all denim stretches out about a half-size during wearing. Finally, pick a fit that flatters you and your personal style, not something that might look good on someone else. “I can’t tell you how many people I see trying on skinny jeans or leggings because they’re trendy,” Morrison told me. “The same goes more recently for high-rise, wide-leg flares— these are very specific silhouettes that don’t always look great on every figure. Make sure you try a few styles and see what flatters you most and start from there.” We’ll take it from the expert.
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