15 Mercer. A 24 person factory behind glass. The largest collection of selvedge denim in the world. All based in the heart of Soho, NYC. 800 different denim fabrics sourced from the rarest mills and selvedge looms from all around the world.
"I really liked the idea of doing something small but fully vertical," designer Morrison explains. "We can manufacture it, we can wash it, we can do it all right here." Since 3x1's founding, the brand has made a habit of sharing with it’s customers about the specific mills in Japan, Turkey and the U.S. that its fabrics hail from. For Morrison, a serial denim entrepreneur who successfully launched two other companies before 3x1, that stems from a desire to share about the rich stories and quality behind the products more than anything else. More than 1,000 different varieties of selvedge denim have passed through 3x1's hands since the brand started. Morrison, whose decades in the business have made him into a walking denim encyclopedia, gets most excited about the rare or unusual finds that mills pass along from their archives.
"We've started as this place where people can come in and really see it happen," he says. "The jeans are sewn from start to finish by one sewer, rather than being pieced together by an assembly line. We're trying to repurpose as much as we possibly can" Morrison says.
3x1 employees lay out paper patterns on selvedge denim to be cut by hand before passing them off to be ironed, sewn and washed. While high-end finishes like 3D whiskering and oven baking are done in LA, Morrison says about half of the brand's custom bespoke business involves simple rinse washing, which means garments are made from start to finish in the New York facility. After patterns are cut, individual pieces are "pre-pressed" with steam-powered irons to make sure that placement is exact and pockets are perfectly flat.
"I can't tell you how much better that makes it, but no one does that," Morrison says. "Typically in manufacturing, especially cheap manufacturing, there is something called an automatic back pocket setter that will actually grab the jean, lay it down, then another [mechanical] arm comes over puts the pocket down, and stitches it up. Ours are hand-placed and pre-pressed... we want it to be perfect. Each person on the team completes about two and a half pairs of jeans a day. That means that the factory is not turning out huge quantities at a time, but it also means that extra time can be given to focusing on quality 100% of the time."
"I believe in Made in America. I want to keep this factory as a footprint for U.S. manufacturing and focus on the value of the fashion ecosystem in New York."