This Blue Blooded Q&A series is a collaboration with Long John. The series is sponsored by Bluezone, the independent show for denim and sportswear by Munich Fabric Start. Register for the next show here!
Get to know Andrew Chen, a face from the Blue Blooded Portfolio
As I remember it, Andrew and I first met at Bread & Butter in Berlin in the summer of 2012. Since then, we’ve stayed in touch, hung out when we’re in the same city, and supported each other. A genuinely nice guy, who’s accomplished a lot!
What’s your story?
From New York, currently living and working in New York
Co-owner of 3sixteen
Andrew’s path into the denim business
Thomas: How did you get into (the world of) denim?
Andrew: We started making jeans in 2008 as part of our first full collection. Johan, my partner, had already been getting into raw selvedge denim at that time and so naturally our first pair of jeans had to be raw, indigo, and selvedge.
From there, our friendship with Kiya Babzani of Self Edge helped us to learn and grow; his feedback helped us refine our offering, and him bringing our jeans into his shop gave them added legitimacy.
The jeans took off over the next few years so we put our heads down and worked to keep improving the product while fighting to meet demand.
T: What was your first pair of jeans?
A: My first pair of jeans that I actually remember wanting to buy were Levi’s Silver tabs. I had to convince my parents to let me get them. My first pair of raws were regular old Levi’s 501 STFs, and the first pair that I bought with the intention of fading were A.P.C. New Standards.
T: When did you know you were ‘hooked’ on raw denim?
A: Once I realized that wearing in a pair of raw denim produced results that no wash house in the world could replicate, that was it for me.
The first pair that I think I was really proud of in terms of how they faded were my Skull 5010xx from Self Edge; I bought them from Kiya years before I became a partner in the New York store.
T: What is your favourite thing about raw denim?
A: They are easy to care for and don’t require any special treatment or babying. It’s nice to be able to grab them, throw them on, wear them and wash them in a machine without worrying about what’s going to happen to them. The sheer utility and durability of them, I guess.
Andrew’s views on the denim business
T: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far, and what did you learn from it?
A: Our greatest challenge in recent memory is probably what we are going through as a brand right now: navigating COVID-19 and the difficulties a global pandemic presents to our small business. I’ll let you know what we learned from it when we’re on the other side.
If you need our help getting your business through the crisis, we can help you. Learn more about what we can do and schedule a consultation here.
T: Which denim brands inspire you? And why?
A: I always love seeing what Atsu at Stevenson Overall Company is up to. Their jeans are a clinic in attention to detail and I love walking customers through all their unique qualities in person at Self Edge. Their collections are always chock full of surprises, from unexpected fabrics and silhouettes to unique hidden details that you only find after you’ve bought the garment.
Our designer, Wesley Scott, has pointed me towards fashion designers who use raw denim in ways that are different from a typical workwear-derivative manner, so now I pay attention to brands like Studio Nicholson and Lemaire and the manner in which they use denim in their collections to give heritage-inspired silhouettes an interesting twist.
T: Which denim retailers inspire you? And why?
A: I hope I can still say Self Edge even though I am now a partner in the NY and LA shops, because I was a customer and a fan of the store before I came on board the business.
I credit Kiya and Demitra with putting our market onto many of the brands from Japan that are household names with denim enthusiasts today.
Andrew defines his denim style
T: List 3 of your favourite garments or accessories and (try to) explain how they define your style
A: 1) This may be a bit of recency bias, but I wore our 3sixteen Selvedge Fatigues more than any jeans this past year. I think it’s because of how roomy they are; after trying to avoid straight legs for many years because I felt like they were unflattering on me, I’ve embraced it.
I do still have denim in the rotation and am excited to pick up a pair of CS jeans—our vintage 47 501 repro cut that we used to make but discontinued—when we release them once again later this year.
2) My Good Art Model 10 bracelet I mentioned above. I used to wear very little jewelry outside of a ring or two and Good Art changed that. It’s something that I look forward to putting on every day.
3) I have two pairs of Viberg Ropers. They are more comfortable than any other boot I own and the roughout leathers look even better when they are thrashed. I love not having to tie laces.
T: What do you never leave home without? And why?
A: My Good Art Model 10 bracelet and my Teranishi Studio minimalist wallet. Because you gotta stunt every day no matter where you’re going and you also gotta have money to pay for things.
Looking for a new pair of jeans?
Want to learn more about Andrew? This Blue Blooded Q&A is a collaboration with Long John. Read his answers to the 10 ‘what’s your favourite’ questions at long-john.nl.
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