For Guillermo Andrade, emotional connection is at the core of his designs. “If a product makes me feel something, I’ll never change my mind about that feeling,” he explains. “I never get dressed just to throw on clothes—I love the outward expression.”
It’s a quintessentially sunny L.A. afternoon, and the designer is nonchalant in a hoodie, his shaggy hair framing his face as he sips a macchiato over ice. He’s at a café a few doors from the store he opened eight years ago on one of the city’s most vibrant streets, FourTwoFour on Fairfax. This is also where he conceived of the idea for his proprietary label, 424. Andrade’s thoughtful-yet-candid nature doesn’t come from formal training for press interviews—which he rarely does—but is instead a product of his sharp intuition.
Andrade moved to the Bay Area from Guatemala when he was 10 years old. He spoke no English when he arrived and eagerly began to engage with his new surroundings, soaking in everything from hip-hop—he quickly developed a fascination with a then-larger-than-life Tupac—to the clothing he saw in his community. “I’ve always been curious and thrown myself in the way of learning. I grew up without much money, so the things I had and chose to have meant a lot to me,” Andrade says. Sheer curiosity and a hunger for culture developed into a discerning point of view, especially when it comes to fashion. “I have particular taste,” he explains. “It’s not better taste, it’s just specific.”
As it turns out, this taste struck a nerve with the fickle fashion industry, which Andrade first broke into with a jewelry line, followed by his store. A few years ago, it was time to channel all of his experience into 424, a collection that could fully translate his voice into design. “The key is to take all the information from everything you’ve learned and absorbed from other cultures and say something genuine that doesn’t repeat what people have already done before.”
That approach has led him to exclusive collaborations with Barneys New York, which include a Tupac-themed capsule as well as his Americana-style Spring collection. For Andrade, patriotism is as much about fit and color as it is about the feelings a piece can evoke, like the nostalgia of workwear-inspired designs reminiscent of what his dad wore on construction sites. “For me, the perfect American wardrobe is T-shirts, jeans, a light jacket, some boots or sneakers,” he explains.
The emotion Andrade injects into his collections is surely what makes him stand out in the highly competitive world of streetwear. “At the end of the day, fashion is personal,” he says, as the afternoon sunlight spills through the palm trees lining Fairfax behind him. “I wear Rick Owens head to toe when I’m sweeping my apartment at home, because, to me, it’s a lifestyle. It sounds corny, but it’s real life. It’s not for Instagram. It’s not for an image. It’s for the joy it brings me.”