When we first met up with the 3sixteen guys, Johan out of LA, Andrew out of New York, and designer Jeff Hamada at their booth deep in MAGIC’s South Hall area last season, it was a little strange that they were there. For one thing, the 3sixteen collection looked as though it could transcend into, as Bread & Butter Barcelona would put it, “Urban Superior” rather than amidst the usual street fashion fare. Beautifully cut outerwear jackets in textured wool, flannel tapered tops, clean denim, and T-shirt graphics representing inspiration from a variety of sources, including religious references, were attention-grabbing and seemed a step-up and out of where streetwear currently stands today.
This could be derived from their unique philosophy. 3sixteen guys get asked this a lot, but their name is based on their common faith in God, specifically as a reference to John 3:16. As Johan described their name, “It keeps us all grounded and why we’re doing what we’re doing. We’re Christians, although it’s not like we’re wearing that on our sleeves [no pun intended] but it keeps us in line.” The goal of 3sixteen is to make quality product with classic design and excellent construction, so that, as Andrew put it, “We can create a timelessness, a brand that’s known for excellence -even beyond the span of what may seem really cool and trendy today.”
The irony is that some people who get hung-up on the Christian part don’t see the forest for the trees, as it were, and in 3sixteen’s case, each garment has some special construction features that make it a keeper. “It’s not like being Christian in the clothing industry is considered all that cool,” says Johan. In some ways, they keep that part of the story on the DL. But for those who recognize the reference within the brand name, it’s the faith-foundation that comes to the surface and makes for an interesting angle in an industry known for its devilishly disposable attitude. Which streamlines into what they call “the new royalty” meaning supporting and advocating hard work, inspired design, and focus rather than simply trying to be the most-hyped street fashion brand of the day.
Being bi-coastal also helps 3sixteen in that it enhances their connections and creates an even larger circle of fans. Their new space in New York City in the Lower East Side has become a bit of a meeting place for friends and networking, which as Andrew mentions, was completely unintentional, but all good and something they all find quite fascinating.
Overall, even though 3sixteen currently sits in the category of street fashion, their product tends to defy, and ultimately push forward “classifications” in general, which is an inspiring thing to see, particularly in a world where boundaries often get placed without thought to natural migration.