A few weeks back we had the pleasure of previewing the latest offering from California’s KR3W as well as a chance to meet one of the guys behind it, KR3W’s design director – Jack Toledo. We have been huge fans of the brand since our teens and it has been great to watch KR3W continue to develop whilst remaining true to its roots in skateboarding and street culture.
With everything from cut and sew outerwear to more logo based tees and sweaters, as well as a few high profile collabs and a premium capsule, the Autumn/Winter collection from KR3W is one of their most mature and well rounded releases to date. We were lucky enough to catch up with Jack Toledo to ask him about his role at KR3W and find out more on the collection itself. Here is what he had to say…
Hey Jack, hope you’re well? Could you introduce yourself and your role at KR3W?
I’m doing great thank you, enjoying the California summer weather. My name is Jack Toledo and I am the Apparel Design Direction for KR3W. As the Apparel Design Director my job is to set the general direction on a seasonal basis as far as theme, colour and pattern. We are a pretty small team of dudes here so everyone has input in all that goes down whether it’s Marketing, Sales or Product. We kind of run the brand in a democratic manner which is great.
The latest release is one of the most mature collections we’ve seen from KR3W. What has been the most important factor behind the brands development?
I’m glad you noticed that as there was a conscious effort to age the brand up with the Fall 2014 collection going forward. We know we are recognized as an authentic core skate brand but wanted to broaden our reach outside of that market segment and create product that felt a bit more mature, lifestyle driven and premium. This day in age we are finding that if you don’t take the proper steps to find ways of subtly reinventing yourself that you get left behind. That old business model of regurgitating last years best sellers are gone, you either make cool shit that is unique and fresh or you get left behind. Apologies on the bluntness haha.
Talk us through your usual design process? Was it different for this collection?
I think the single most important part of starting a new collection is travel. You have to remove yourself from your comfort zone and immerse yourself into the culture in which you are creatively trying to capture. For instance if you were about to design Q1 (Spring) you wouldn’t want to travel to Russia in the winter. Our calendar usually allows us to travel outside of the country a couple times a year in order to gain inspiration in terms of shopping the local area, people watching and enjoying a couple cold ones around town. From there we will come back to the states and I will begin putting together a plan in terms of seasonal theme, colour direction and a line architecture (style plan). For our Fall 2014 inspiration trip we traveled to London as a team and came back ready to go. I love London and the UK in general. The taste level is elevated, there are great bars and places to eat, along with the obvious heritage and natural beauty of the cities layout. It’s truly inspiring!
How did you align KR3W’s heritage in skateboarding into the design?
Being an authentic skate brand I feel it’s important to make sure that first and foremost the skate team is hyped on the product you are creating. We have an awesome skate team manager Brownie who makes sure we are coming correct. Every season he will bring in the guys and get input as to what they are feeling from the new collection, places we may have missed the mark and areas we can expand on in the future. We try and take the teams input, personal style and vibe into consideration each and every season to ensure we are remaining true to our roots. Along with that we are aware that some of the more progressive styles in the line may not be their shit and that’s alright. They know where it’s coming from and although they may not personally wear it, they can still appreciate it, which is important.
Could you tell us a bit more about the Number 11 collection?
The No.11 collection is a premium capsule that exists within our regular collection. It kind of started with the re-focusing of the brand with the Fall 2014 collection. The goal was to create a less is more approach in terms of product and our general approach. I wanted to focus the trims, color palette and general aesthetic around minimalism. I wanted to put more into the fabrication, wash/treatments and details of the garments. With that said, naturally some of these pieces started to get out of our mid tier pricing structure and needed a place to live that could platform them. We all sat down and started brainstorming names to create a capsule within the collection that would host these elevated pieces. The end result is the KR3W No.11 Collection. The reception to these pieces has been great considering the price points and it’s something we will be going forward with in the future.
Is there a stand out piece in the collection, if so why?
I along with the other creative team here sincerely wear a ton of the product we make which speaks volumes to what we are doing. You can’t claim to stand behind what you are making and then not actually wear it. With that said, living in California only allows for a few solid months of jacket weather but one of my favourite pieces from the Fall 2014 collection is the Nicholson Jacket. It’s the perfect cross between a heritage inspired silhouette and dark attitude. I’m a sample size so I’ve been wearing mine for a while now but since the season has now dropped in stores you can all grab one as well, don’t sleep on it!
There are some great collaborations within the collection. How did they come about?
We have an awesome Graphic Art Director in house by the name of Mike Z. He actually stepped to Niagara for the Fall 14 season as he felt it was a perfect fit in terms of an artist with a cohesive aesthetic to what we were doing with the rest of the collection. The end product is something we were all stoked on and stand behind. The Dressen collab for Holiday 14 kind of came natural. Our brand Director Brad Alband thought it was a no brainer because of Eric’s ties to the skate game and tattoo culture. Be on the look out for more to come on this one as we will be doing some cool shit in the states and hopefully out there as well to promote the Dressen collaboration.
What are your future plans for KR3W?
The goal is to maintain a similar aesthetic and grow our business through consistency and progression. We will be getting darker, more angst driven with our approach and aggressive with our intent to become a staple not only in skate doors but also lifestyle and boutique shops. KR3W has always been looked at as a brand with the unique ability to cross over seamlessly through fashion and core skate. We provide an edge to our collection that most of our competition would have a hard time with. You can count on us taking more risks and staying in our lane so please stay tuned… Thanks!
We would like to thanks Jack for his time, Amanda Fordyce for the awesome photos and Canoe Inc for making it happen. Also keep an eye out for our upcoming lookbook with the guys from KR3W featuring product from the new release.
KR3W’s latest collection is available now at kr3wdenim.com and the following retailers;
Words: Kieran Sills
Imagery courtesy of KR3W