When we say that a pair of 3×1 jeans is unlike any other pair of jeans, we’re not just talking about the wash or the fit. Instead, 3×1’s founder, Scott Morrison, approaches jean-making in an entirely different way.
With two successful denim lines under his belt (Paper Denim and Earnest Sewn), Scott set out to elevate jean-making “to its highest level.” What does this mean? In Scott’s words, “transparency, a ‘Made in New York’ ethos, no assembly line, single-needle sewing and an aversion to the mass-manufacturing mentality.” We’ll go on: All styles are created in limited runs—each pair is individually numbered—and styles are never repeated. Even more incredibly, each pair is crafted by one person from start to finish in his Soho atelier.
We recently went down there to watch this process, and over the course of a few hours, we saw a lifeless piece of denim evolve into one of the exclusive men’s styles sold at Barneys New York. Watch the video we shot below, then scroll down to read our exclusive interview with Scott underneath.
(Oh, and by the way, to end the mystery, the name “3×1″ was derived from denim’s standard weaving construction: 3×1 Right Hand Twill.)
Video by Chris New. Editing by Garrett DeLuca.
Barneys New York: What sets 3×1 apart from other denim brands?
Scott Morrison: Back in August 2010, I started contemplating what I wanted to focus on next, and it kept gnawing at me that no one had really tried to elevate denim and jean-making to its highest level. There were always incredible denims, amazing details, and special trims and components that weren’t used because the price would simply not work at a wholesale level. So 3×1 as a concept was founded for one simple reason: to make the best jean in the world, using the best denims, components and sewing/construction.
You’ve been in the denim business for a long time — what have you learned over the years?
One thing I’ve learned is that no matter what anyone tries to tell you, at the end of the day people really want a few simple things from a pair of jeans. 1. A jean they’re proud to wear (and therefore wear often). 2. A jean that fits them well and flatters their shape and size. 3. A jean that works with their style and personal aesthetic, as opposed to one that tries to define it.
Yves Saint Laurent famously said he wished he’d invented blue jeans. Why do you think there’s such fascination and lore around denim?
During the Fifties and Sixties denim crossed over into fashion; James Dean, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and many others all played a role in making jeans both cool and accepted outside the cowboy genre. I think jeans are and continue to be more relevant than ever, and they certainly have a place in everyone’s wardrobe, in most cultures and in essentially every walk of life.
Tell us about some of the exclusive 3×1 styles at Barneys.
With both Barneys men’s and women’s teams, we set out to create and offer the Barneys customer something truly unique. In women’s, our tuxedo style came about after showing the team a version I’d been working on for our shop in Soho. We thought it would be great to do a version in white with a contrasting velvet stripe on the out-seam. Another distinctive feature is that it’s cropped to 28 inches and offered with special buttons.
On the men’s side, we decided to focus on really unique fabrics and a timeless low-rise fit, the M4. It incorporates a classic 5-pocket design, a straight leg and our signature selvedge pocket and selvedge “V” beltloops. One other completely unique feature to all the Barneys men’s jeans are the custom-colored buttons, which are only available on 3×1 for Barneys.
Why should someone invest in a pair of jeans?
I think the reason varies from person to person, but for me, it’s always been simple: If I’m going to use something or wear something or rely on something everyday, I want to invest in buying the best I can. Ideally, you’re investing in something that will last, something that will get better with age, and something you can understand the value of what’s gone into it. We make a really special jean—a jean worth investing in. There are a lot of good jeans in the marketplace, but we make a jean a little bit differently. We source better materials, take a different approach to design and manufacturing and try to hold ourselves to a different set of ideals.
OK, moment of truth: How many pairs of jeans do you own?
Probably more than 300 pairs, many of which are from my own labels. But far too many for anyone who’s not in the denim industry to rightfully own.