FEATURES : WHAT’S IN STORE

What’s In Store? - 3x1

By Tom Ran

Published April 23, 2012

Scott Morrison, founding partner of 3x1.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Scott Morrison, founding partner of 3x1.

Inside 3x1, the interior is designed by Scott Morrison.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Inside 3x1, the interior is designed by Scott Morrison.

The selvedge denim wall. 3x1 carries over 100 selvedge denims from Japan, Italy and the U.S.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

The selvedge denim wall. 3x1 carries over 100 selvedge denims from Japan, Italy and the U.S.

Left: Barber Pole Selvedge (Limited Edition) Right: Kurabo 12 oz denim in Indigo with red weft.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Left: Barber Pole Selvedge (Limited Edition) Right: Kurabo 12 oz denim in Indigo with red weft.

100% Cotton Selvedge Denim from Cone Mills.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

100% Cotton Selvedge Denim from Cone Mills.

MS-1 Selvedge Chambray Shirt

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

MS-1 Selvedge Chambray Shirt

Cut & Sew signage adorns the glass factory windows.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Cut & Sew signage adorns the glass factory windows.

Strips of fabric wrapped around the handle to provide extra comfort. Morrison says, "On a given day, he (the cutter) might make more than 1000 cuts, so anything that can be done to make things more comfortable, we do." Right: 3x1 Men's MS-1 Chambray Shirt

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Strips of fabric wrapped around the handle to provide extra comfort. Morrison says, "On a given day, he (the cutter) might make more than 1000 cuts, so anything that can be done to make things more comfortable, we do." Right: 3x1 Men's MS-1 Chambray Shirt

Scott Morrison tending to a pair of jeans being made in the factory.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Scott Morrison tending to a pair of jeans being made in the factory.

Head Cutter, Eddie Fai hand chalks and cuts each piece of denim and pocketing for every pair of 3x1 jeans.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Head Cutter, Eddie Fai hand chalks and cuts each piece of denim and pocketing for every pair of 3x1 jeans.

Left: Chain Stitch Machine - used for hems and inseam on light weight denims. Right: Steam Press - used for pressing pockets, seams, labels and finished jeans.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Left: Chain Stitch Machine - used for hems and inseam on light weight denims. Right: Steam Press - used for pressing pockets, seams, labels and finished jeans.

Left: MS-1 Selvedge Chambray Shirt Right: W2 Slingshot 'Red'

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

Left: MS-1 Selvedge Chambray Shirt Right: W2 Slingshot 'Red'

The storefront of 3x1 on 15 Mercer St.

Photo: Daniel Bernauer

The storefront of 3x1 on 15 Mercer St.

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Scott Morrison is the Sean Parker of denim. Though not as ubiquitous as facebook, Morrison has had a string of successes with the launch of Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn. About a year into his latest company, 3×1, we find Morrison at the helm of another big project and taking premium denim into a level of tailoring, craft, and customization. He’s a denim expert through and through, but little did we know Morrison is an interior designer as well with another company he started called Ten-Hut Creative. He’s designed the store interior to Earnest Sewn, but has taken quite the departure with 3×1. More modern than rustic, the space is minimal and refined with all its scrappiness contained in a built-in factory. 3×1 is not only redefining denim but retail as well. The shopping experience is meant to be educational and transparent, literally, the factory is visible behind the glass walls. Morrison is hands on in this operation, assisting customers with the design process whenever possible. Denim isn’t the only thing that is offered, the shop also carries a line of products that Morrison supports from leather goods by Kenton Sorenson and eyewear from Mikita to pens and notepads by Craft Design Technology. See what’s in store for 3×1 as we speak with Scott Morrison about his plans for the brand.

You’ve designed the interiors to Earnest Sewn as well as other retail spaces including 3×1. They’re dramatically different in style from one another. What was your idea for this space when you started?

I’ve always loved architecture and design, and I think design is the most integral part of storytelling – especially for a brand, or a retail space. The design concept of 3×1 was centered around our modern factory and every other area of the store needed to invite people into the process of design and jean making. Specifically, I wanted this space to feel like a combination of modern workshop and Soho art gallery and, in doing so, try to maintain as much transparency to each step of the process as possible. I wanted the process and the components we use (denim, sewing equipment, cutting tables, steam equipment, etc.) to be design elements in and of themselves.

I tried to do that by simplifying the color palette to white and black, and by trying to create ways for objects or design concepts to ‘float’ within the space. Giant oversized white display tables, the denim wall itself (which is also functional storage), as well as the 3 glass and black aluminum framed structures which are key elements for both sound absorption and safety. The floors are blackened steel in the front and rear, while the factory section (in the middle of the store) switches to a stained wood for authenticity’s sake.

3×1′s retail and manufacturing concept defies the traditional norms of how a label operates, from retail to manufacturing. Your product line is also limited, how are new designs introduced? Do you have seasons? If not, do you find this liberating?

We introduce new ‘Limited Edition’ styles every week, which are typically small run (8-24 pcs) concepts and it’s probably the most liberating part of the 3×1 experience. For both me (the designer) and for our customers, there’s that neat feeling of ‘what will I find today’ since there’s a constantly changing landscape of styles, fabrics, and fits.

We, 3×1, have three types of jeans available at the store: Limited Edition (Ready-to-Wear), Custom Made, and Bespoke. Our Limited Edition jeans are stocked in the store by size and fit, and typically we have more than 1100 pair on hand. The customer selects their jean of choice, as well as the button, rivets, and hem length/style which are modified while they wait (typically about 10 minutes). A Custom Made jean is based on one of our Limited Edition fits. The customer then gets to choose from the 145+ different denims we have in-stock, and begins selecting the back pocket design, thread theory, button or zipper fly, etc. Typically this takes no more than 24-48 hours to complete. A Bespoke pair is different in the sense that the customer builds their jeans from concept to completion. A Bespoke jean can be made to measure, or inspired by a customer’s favorite pair, or even something totally conceptual. We limit these appointments to only 100 per year as there’s usually days of design and pattern work involved. Typically a ‘Bespoke’ jean is ready inside of 5-7 days.

Your manufacturing room can also double as a lab. How often do you experiment with new designs in there?

Literally everyday. Our design offices are downstairs (including pattern-making and a small laundry), and with 100% of our materials (fabric, trims, etc.) stocked in-house, we have the ability to work on new concepts and ideas constantly. It’s a luxury to have the resources of design, development and manufacturing all under one roof, and it’s our customer who ultimately benefits most.

You take part in the design process with customers. At what point do you come in and help?

Both the head pattern maker and I are on site Monday thru Friday and make a point to be accessible to customers, regardless of whether they’re buying a Limited Edition, Custom Made or opting for a Bespoke pair of jeans. With Bespoke customers, we’re extremely involved with their jean from start to finish. Whether they’re interested in remaking a jean, designing something from the ground up, or developing something based on one of our existing fits … we work with them through all parts of the process, and oversee all aspects of the jeans manufacturing and finishing.

One of the reasons why Japanese denim is so desirable is because they are spun from old American looms. What makes this denim better than others? Is it in the construction, aesthetic, texture or all of the above?

Fabric selection is one of my favorite parts of what we do at 3×1. We currently offer more than 145 different denims from Japan, Italy, Turkey and domestically (USA) from Cone Mills. Every denim is chosen because they fit into one of a few categories: authenticity, rareness, uniqueness and quality. Most of these denims are fabrics I could never have afforded at my other companies, Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn, and our ability at 3×1 to secure the rarest, most exceptional denims in the world is second to none. I have always appreciated our Japanese mills’ attention to detail, quality, and the ability to reproduce consistently exceptional denim, as well as their artisanal take on processing cotton all the way through indigo dyeing. Japanese mills, especially those producing selvedge denims on old shuttle looms, take a lot pride in the quality and authenticity of every yard they produce. Older shuttle looms (selvedge looms) have a tendency to produce that much after hand feel, surface character, and authentic wear that denim connoisseurs long for, and in most cases, consider to be the world standard.

Having the customer be a part of the design process is an important part of the experience, do you think there is any way to translate this onto the web?

We’re working pretty diligently on that very thing currently. Having the ability to customize your jean, even on our Limited Edition products, is one of the most exciting aspects of our store experience, and it’s something we want to bring to the online community, and specifically to our existing customers whom already are familiar with our fits and our brand concept.

Where would you like to take 3×1? Does the business intend to expand into other cities?

Absolutely. We’re currently launching our wholesale program with retailers like Barneys, Restir (Japan), and 14oz. (Berlin)… and ultimately we’ll be looking to further our online presence and to recreate the retail experience we have here at 15 Mercer Street in other countries around the world (Japan, Brazil, Europe).

Visit 3×1 at 15 Mercer St.
Mon-Sat: 11:00am-7:00pm
Sun: 12:00am-6:00pm

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