Designer spotlight: Founder and designer of 3x1, Scott Morrison, on the dos and don'ts of denim
How often should I wash my jeans? How do I know if a pair fits right? There are few who can answer the top denim conundrums with as much knowledge as Scott Morrison. The founder and designer of rising New York-based denim label, 3x1, is on his third denim enterprise — and needless to say, he takes his craft very seriously. The brand's Soho boutique is where you can get a pair of bespoke jeans made and be treated to a tactile experience of the largest collection of selvedge denim in the world, making it a must-visit on your next trip to New York City.
With 3x1's signature long fringe hem jeans spotted on style icons everywhere (you name them, they've worn it) we pick Morrison's brains on the dos, don'ts and musts that every self-professed denim fanatic should know by heart.
Always hang your jeans, never fold. Wash inside out, but only when needed, and repair whenever you first start to see them looking threadbare.
Tell us about how you started out in the denim business.
I grew up in Palm Springs, Southern California, so I had the opportunity to play golf and tennis at an early age and fell in love with golf. I played it through school and eventually ended up with a scholarship to play golf at the University of Washington. When I got there, I mentioned to my coach that I was interested in perhaps starting a golf clothing line one day — mainly because I hated golf clothes. He connected me with a mentor in the industry and with his help, I started writing business plans for a would-be golf apparel company and began interning each summer for clothing companies in and around the Seattle area. I finished school in '95 and tried to play professional golf for about nine months, which was a great experience, but I figured out that it wasn't my passion. I think I knew that going in, but I thought it was better to try than look back and wonder what could have been.
From there, I started working full time in the clothing business — first starting out as a wholesale salesperson, and then as a VP of marketing and sales for a jean company in NYC. In 1999, I started my first label, Paper Denim & Cloth, and went on to start Earnest Sewn in 2004. I also helped with the relaunch of Evisu in 2009, and then founded 3x1 in 2011.
How did 3x1 come about?
I think of it as the culmination of my knowledge and experience from 19 years in the denim business. After learning about jeans making, its history, the differences in quality, it seemed both fitting and relevant to create a concept that addresses the needs of today's more educated and informed customer: Impeccable quality, brand integrity, transparency in our processes, all while being both informative and educational in every aspect of the business.
Where does the name come from?
It's a reference to the third brand I started. 'Three by one' is also denim's most common construction; what we designers refer to as a 3x1 twill.
3x1 also does bespoke denim, but when one thinks of bespoke, jeans don't normally come to mind. Why did you want to create a bespoke experience for jeans?
I couldn't agree more. Jeans aren't the first things I would think of having made for myself — at least not until I thought it through. Most of our clients wear jeans four to five days a week, which means it's probably the most utilised piece of clothing in your wardrobe. Why not have it fit exactly the way you want? Why not make the one thing you wear four to five days a week look best on you and your body, while complimenting your style? Mind you, a lot of people can simply buy something off the shelf and be really content with having something everyone else has, but there are also a lot of people out there who want something unique. They want to celebrate their individuality, and they want something more for the items that help define them.
With so many cuts of denim out there, what are some of the things to look out for?
Generally speaking, search for, and find something you feel incredible in. Confidence is the greatest fashion equaliser. Find jeans that flatter your body type. As an example, shorter girls wearing low-rise jeans will appear shorter than they would wearing a mid-rise or high-rise pair. The same is true for men. When it comes to finding a pair of jeans that fit correctly, make sure your jeans feel tight when trying them on for the first time. All denim stretches out with wear — as much as a half-size within the first day — so make sure you buy jeans that feel a bit on the tight side as four to five hours later, they're going to feel much closer to perfect.
What are some of the tell-tale signs that you've picked the wrong size?
The easiest way is to see if you can slide a finger or two inside the waistband. If you can, you're wearing something that is too big around the waist. Likewise, I hear a lot of customers talk about comfort, and in most cases 'comfort' means 'loose'. Rarely do I think 'loose' looks flattering on people, so it's also something to consider when you're thinking about size. Obviously, the flip side of that coin is also true — wearing something tight-fitting doesn't always flatter either. You should be aware of both and try to find something that looks flattering on you. Err on the tighter side since denim will stretch, and above all else, find something you feel confident in.
Singapore is hot and humid all year round — what denim weight would you recommend?
In a tropical rainforest climate like Singapore — or most of Southeast Asia — you'll love the benefits of wearing lightweight cottons with looser weaves. I'd suggest nine to 10 oz. denims, with a 3x1 twill construction. If you're travelling to Europe or the United States, you might want to look for more of a mid-weight denim. 11 to 12 oz. denims are usually an ideal weight for year-round wear in most climates. One thing to note: Lighter weight denims use smaller yarns, so you sacrifice the more authentic stubby look of heavyweight denims for the sake of comfort.
What are some of the best ways to care for denim? Most people agree that you should not wash them after every single wear, but why? Are there any tricks to keeping your denim fresh in between washes?
Denim care really depends on the wearer and their comfort level with wearing clothes that have been worn repeatedly. Also, it depends on the type of denim you're buying. As an example, stretch denims are designed to be worn and washed with some frequency. The stretch yarns are actually designed to 'recover' after washing, so it's good to wash and dry those jeans regularly. Keep in mind however, each time you wash, indigo is removed which means it's getting lighter in colour with every wash. If you want to keep your jeans as dark in colour as when you bought them, you'll want to make sure you wash less frequently and turn your jeans inside out when doing so.
Raw denim on the other hand, and in my opinion, performs its best when you go as long as you possibly can without washing it for the first time. For me, that is anywhere between four and six months. The reason is that you want the microscopic starch, which is on the surface of your jeans and already binded to the indigo dye, to start to chip away, and this only happens with time and wear. The more you wear without washing initially, the more starch and indigo is removed, which aids in the fading. When I do decide to wash my raw jeans, I'm very careful to turn them inside out, lay them in a bath of cold water, add a little of our Denim Solution in the water and just leave it there for 45 minutes to an hour. Next, just pull them out and rinse with clean, fresh water. I usually lay them on a towel and roll it up to absorb any extra water, then let them air dry overnight. Note: The only time you want to scrub your jeans is when you have a deep stain and you've got no other option. I try to avoid this at all costs.
How long should denim last for?
Your denim will last as long as you are willing to take care of it, and by that I mean wear and wash with consideration and mend it when required. Most raw denim jeans will have a blowout or two in the first year or so. It's inevitable, and totally normal. What's creating that beautiful natural wear is a combination of your activity — that is, movement — and the starch that's been added to your denim in order to make it more usable in cutting and sewing. The great thing about wearing jeans raw is that the repairs and mending are part of the character of your jeans. If you're willing to look after them properly, you can wear them for years. A few tips for keeping your jeans going for as long as possible: Always hang your jeans, never fold. Wash inside out, but only when needed, and repair whenever you first start to see them looking threadbare.