3×1 is bringing a new type of transparency to the world of denim manufacturing. The blue jean brand’s glass-enclosed facility, located in the heart of Manhattan’s SoHo district, offers visitors a start-to-finish look at the making process while serving as a studio and storefront. “Made Here” is the company’s trademarked brand mantra, which speaks to its under-one-roof model (and a deeply held pride in the American-made tradition). Equipped with the world’s largest collection of selvedge denim—including luxurious Suvin cotton from India and fabric from Japan’s century-old Kurabo Mills—3×1’s 24-person team designs, makes, and meticulously inspects custom and ready-to-wear jeans that are high-touch and high-fashion. Surface spoke to its founder, Scott Morrison, about his vision for the label, his love of denim, and collaborating with designer Joe Doucet to create a pair of jeans for the 21st century.
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Give us a brief overview of 3×1’s history. We founded 3×1 (pronounced “three by one”) in 2011, on the heels of two denim brands I’d launched previously: Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn. The mission of 3×1 was to dive deeper into the design, manufacturing, and production of luxury denim and jeans, and to invite people into that process. 3×1 started out as a unique, experiential retail concept in SoHo, where people could come visit our glass-walled atelier, pick from the most extensive collection of selvedge denim in the world, and create one-of-a-kind jeans. Since then, we have developed a robust ready-to-wear business in addition to expanding our signature bespoke and custom-made services at the 15 Mercer [Street] facility, which is still the heart of the brand.
Tell us about 3×1’s core values. What’s the driving force behind its work? 3×1 is rooted in an uncompromising commitment to creating the finest jeans in the world. It was my deep love for denim, the craftsmanship that goes into creating it, and the process by which we produce beautifully made jeans that drove our vision—and that can be seen in every product. We also set out to create a brand that was about “inviting people into the process” and giving them a glimpse of the design, sourcing, and manufacturing processes required to make a luxury product.
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What does good design mean to you? Good design should evoke a sense of simplicity, timelessness, and always be built on an informed choice of materials and processes. I don’t think you always have to reinvent the wheel, but I do enjoy thinking about doing it and experimenting with different points of view to keep things fresh.
What new projects do you have in the works? Earlier this month, during NYCxDesign, we launched a new collaboration for men and women with award-winning designer Joe Doucet called “A Jean for the 21st Century.” Essentially, we took the 19th-century five-pocket jean and perfected it with a few 21st-century enhancements, including microfiber pockets to clean and protect your devices, a slightly larger coin pocket to accommodate credit cards—lined with RFID-blocking fabric to protect your information—and reflective black adhesive tape that runs down the center back of each leg for [increased visibility] while commuting in low light. All of these jeans were crafted in a three-season, 11.5oz performance stretch selvedge denim from Kurabo, Japan.