You can never have too much of a good thing, the saying goes. But we all know that’s just not quite the case. Tequila shots, for example. Or that Lumineers song.
After recognizing that we could all use a breather from our denim-centric wardrobes, New York-based pals Kimberly Wesson and Aimee Cho launched the unisex line 1.61, named after the golden ratio. The emphasis is on workwear-inspired, easygoing pants with a broken-in feel (though they also launched the collection with one shirt). In other words, these trousers should fit into your wardrobe just as naturally as a trusted pair of blues.
To learn more about the origins of 1.61, we checked in with Kimberly. Check out our Q&A below.
How did you and Aimee meet?
We bonded over the jukebox at our favorite dive bar WXOU in the Village.
When did the idea for 1.61 come about?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about on and off for several years. We all wear a uniform, and for most of us it is based around a jean. As jeans have been become more and more dominant in the garment industry and at retail, I felt there was a lack of options for pants that are as easy and utilitarian as a jean, but that were clearly not a jean.
The decision for the brand to be unisex was based in a utilitarian mindset and the concept of dressing in uniform. The beauty of uniform dressing is the standardization of a ‘one for all’ look. The idea for a unisex collection came from a raw, industrial source rather than a soft, androgynous look.
Tell us about the role of process in your brand. How do you guys approach manufacturing differently?
The process is huge for us and we get our hands on it at every level. The collection is produced right here in New York, and that is something we take pride in—it also enables us to be involved at every level. That can be translated to mean obsessive micro-managers, but we prefer “involved at every level.” We live here, we work here—we love New York and want to support business here as much as we can.
Beyond the acting and thinking locally aspect to the manufacturing, we also hand stamp the style information on each garment and handwrite the hangtags. It was important to us that each garment, especially for the first season, had our imprint. Either Aimee or I have personally written or stamped each article of clothing we produced this season. It may sound crazy, but 1.61 is truly a labor of love. As we grow, having our hands on so many parts of the process will most likely not be possible, so we wanted to be sure to do as much as possible for our first season.
What were some sources of inspiration for this season?
The inspiration is and will always be rooted in the same things. The music scene that sprang from post-punk Northern England, especially Manchester, with its industrial history and constant rain is a huge inspiration. What some see as bleak I see as powerful: the broken industrial city with its dark skies and the brooding countryside. Manchester gave birth to some of the greatest music ever made, and its artists are the inspiration behind 1.61.
Ian Curtis’ music and style has influenced a lot of 1.61’s visual and emotional language. Industrial, uniforms, utility, bleak, brooding, painfully beautiful—these are all words evocative of Ian Curtis and, I hope, 1.61. The double edge of talent and tragedy make him a poignant and powerful inspiration.
An admittedly tough question: do you have a favorite piece in this first collection?
They all mean something; the thought that went into each of our pants and the shirt makes it very hard to choose a favorite. I actually wear all of them.
Now take a look into your imaginary crystal ball. Where do you see 1.61 in five years?
We hope for a strong business with integrity something we can be proud of … We have some ideas; 1.61 was a complete thought. Hopefully you will see more from us!