Fashion label 424 wants to re-imagine street wear frm the ground up
Guillermo Andrade didn't need his own label to establish himself as an arbiter of modern streetwear. He'd already done that.
After all, he's the co-founder of FourTwoFour on Fairfax, the L.A. retail destination that's become a mecca for guys who understand the common thread between high fashion stalwarts like Rick Owens and logo-driven up-and-comers like Anwar Carrots. But in 2015, five years after the founding of the shop, he decided to create his own line anyways.
"There was something in the air at the time," he says of the birth of his label 424. "I felt the moment was right to start making clothes." It's a bold move to just jump in like that, especially considering the fact that Andrade—who grew up in Guatemala before coming to the States—has no formal fashion training. But the impetus was more emotional than practical. Clothes make Andrade feel something. That was enough of a reason to start making them.
And as it turns out, the clothes made other guys feel something, too. In the few years since 424 launched, it's become a rising star in the world of elevated streetwear, with a fanbase that counts Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, and Wiz Khalifa among its ever-growing numbers.
We caught up with Andrade around the launch of his latest collection to talk about how it all came together.
He didn't really expect to sell 424 outside of his shop.
It started as a small in-house project. Shortly after, I flew to Copenhagen and shared a booth at CIFF fashion fair for what thought was going to be just a showing experience. When I left, I had eight accounts signed up to buy the collection knowing nothing about wholesaling. We jumped straight in, learning on the go about production, et cetera. The product has also evolved quite a bit: The fabrics, the shapes...learning from our past drops what actually works and what risks are worth taking to complete the story.
Building the company under the "hype microscope" was actually helpful.
New resources make it more fun to develop collections. [This season] we introduced suiting and footwear, both produced in Italy. Being able to develop custom fabrics, creating a more cohesive feel for the full collection. Going through the growing pains as a business under the hype microscope can be super stressful at times, but I would say that so far it's been a good fire under us to push ourselves forward.
Andrade's Guatemalan heritage helped inform the brand's ethos.
The way I was brought up left an everlasting humbling energy because when you have none of the superficial noise, you have each other. I still remember the tortilla lady would be sick, and the town had no tortillas. So I really appreciate a sense of community. I also learned to love football [or soccer] there, which instilled in me a love for being a part of a team. It's beautiful to win together with a group of people.
Putting established brands like Paul Smith and Polo into a new context helped Andrade learn to "smash my two worlds together."
Paul Smith and Polo came into my word almost by default. It wasn’t something that was a part of my day-to-day life, but I spent a lot of time around people from different backgrounds. Even though my dad wasn’t wearing suits to work, we would be working a job for someone who did. T
he exposure was all I needed to spark my curiosity. I would go back to these parts of town where all the doctors and lawyers lived, hit the Goodwill shop or second-hand shops and learn about the clothes, sometimes buy them, and try to wear it and make it my own. I wasn’t running around pretending to be one of them; it was more fun to me to smash my two worlds together. For example, a Paul Smith button-up draped over a Triple 5 Soul T-shirt and some blue jeans.
The new collection is an updated riff on an everyday uniform.
The inspiration is always to connect. Graphics, shapes, and textiles. 1984, "Big Brother is watching" meets militant details, aiming at a sort of everyday uniform. A modern take on the Americana spirit that I grew up around, seeing the two sides of the coin. Re-appropriating some things I grew up with that had a heavy energy and somehow giving it a new place in my life. Replacing the dark with light, so to speak. The collection feels familiar to me but modern.
Moving forward means focusing on the small things.
I would say the evolution takes place in refining. Details, details, details. I can go deeper into the subject matter because we have more resources that only come with time. It’s less graphic-heavy and a bit more focused on building the core of the brand, finding our true identity in the garments, and not hiding behind the loud logo.
Making the bulk of the product in L.A. is important.
It is important to me to be a contributing member of my community. Creating jobs and opportunity for the people around me has always been at the top of my list. As a general rule I prefer to be directly in contact with the product as much as possible, so having our production here at home is vital. I didn't go to fashion school, so it's also helped me learn a lot in a short period of time about the production side of designing.
Art is an inspiration, but it's not about the art itself.
To be honest I don’t pretend to know so much about art. There are things that move me and there things that do not. The idea of art is the inspiration for me: Take an object and paint a coca cola logo on it, and it will shift how you feel about that object. Taking a current event and using a hoodie as a canvas is how it transfers over to 424.