Jack Toledo – KR3W Clothing

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Jack Toledo – KR3W Clothing, Jack has been working in the design industry for the last ten years. He has spent just over three of those working for KR3W.

He was the Senior Apparel Designer but his role has evolved into something far more involved. He is now the Design Director and is responsible for shaping the direction of the whole collection. He was recently in London for a brief visit and we managed to catch up with him to ask a few questions. Here is what he had to say…

Is your new role as design director an all encompassing one?

Yeah, I started with the brand as a senior designer, that was more category specific. I was designing the denim and the bottoms along with the outer wear category as well as the wovens. Since then I have been promoted to the design director so my role is to create the seasonal themes and the colour direction and also to actually design and execute the garments. My role has expanded to overseeing the general direction of the brand but also contributing to the visual direction as well and the marketing initiatives, it’s been great.

How do you feel the new collection has evolved?

I think that in general the idea behind the re-launch of the brand was to take a look at it as a whole and really mature it. We wanted to speak more towards the lifestyle aspect of our consumer base out there. To do that there was a re-design and development of our trim package, it became darker which definitely speaks to our aesthetic as a brand. What we also did was to create a seasonal theme, this was something we wanted to stick to and push for the foreseeable future. Our idea was to launch what we called a modern heritage theme which essentially speaks to the Americana trend out there. We utilised that, made it a bit darker and modernised it. We took really key, staple silhouettes but elevated our approach by using premium fabrication and detailing. With the evolution of the collection the idea was to take these staple garments and create something which is timeless. The goal each and every season is to create collections that can be intertwined and seamlessly work with each other. We want to push ourselves as a brand and continue to evolve without there being a departure from the direction that was launched.

Some of our current range of KR3W chinos

Where do you draw inspiration from?

It comes from a lot of places. It comes from the music I listen to. From high end fashion, I love looking at other designers collections or fashion houses. As for some of my favourite brands and designers, it’s all about looking to them for inspiration but finding a way to dilute it a bit so it still speaks to the brands aesthetic. It comes from musicians, artists, it comes from travelling. I really love this area, London is an amazing City with so much great heritage especially within the music scene. Our team riders who are our brand ambassadors are so important, they may often hook us up with some music we were unaware of. Through our distribution channels we sometimes find other brands that really resonate with the specific territories we are exploring. Working with bands who are from our backyard. The brand started in Santa Ana in California but also has strong roots in Los Angeles which is obviously iconic when it comes to the music scene. There was also a very strong punk rock scene which emerged in the late nineties within Orange County as well which makes it a great place to be.

How would you describe KR3W as a brand?

I think with KR3W it’s important to first note that we have that strong heritage tied to skateboarding. We really hang our hat on the fact that we were the first skate brand to introduce stretch denim and brought that functionality aspect to the skate market. Kr3W is a brand that I feel resonates with anyone from skateboarding, outside of skateboarding through to musicians. It’s a brand that can seamlessly work its way in and out of skateboarding into music, into fashion and I feel that gives us a great leg up on our competition. When you look at it some brands will try too hard to capture a specific trend or audience but when that attempt fails it looks contrived to the consumer. We have the unique opportunity to speak to these different avenues. That’s how I would explain it, it has skate roots but is definitely still lifestyle drive.

A glimpse at the colour palette for Fall 14

Do you work closely with any of the team riders when developing products?

Absolutely. It’s an interesting question because I feel that when the brand was first launched to where we are at now the market has changed. We were able to push co-branded product with our skate team because the market was open to it whereas now the consumer has changed a bit and matured naturally. Even younger kids because there is accessibility to blogs which allow you to travel the world without leaving the comforts of your home. So now we look to our team riders as ambassadors and really take their personal aesthetic and vibe and try and work it in to what we are doing as opposed to specifically co-branding it with their name actually on the garment. It’s tough, if you look at our competition as well there aren’t many other brands continuing to co-brand because the relevance isn’t really there. We definitely listen to the riders and being a bottom-centric brand it’s very important for us to set the tone within the market place for our jeans and chinos. For the tops I feel that the skate team tends to be a bit more open to what they will wear but when it comes to denim and the bottoms they are very specific. It has got to be spot on in terms of fit so they are always keeping us on our toes with that.

Can you explain the concept behind the number 11 collection?

Sure, the actual name number 11 comes from K which is the eleventh letter in the alphabet. The whole capsule presented itself organically when I was working on Fall 14. The idea was to really focus on remaining on top and being the leader in terms of bottoms but then to also have these specialty tops which merchandise well with those bottoms. As I worked through the collection I started noticing that the treatments and the fabrications we were using had caused the pricing to go up. I felt like we needed to create a capsule that platformed this so we could justify the perceived value in the product. As a group we came up with the number 11 name which was actually already being used on some of the T-Shirts. We took it and created it’s own little separate trim package and we also created some visuals which spoke back to it being darker. We are stoked, our goal was to just hit minimums with this concept and we were able to do that. As far as we are concerned the launch was very successful and it’s a narrative that will continue down the road.

Some of our current KR3W denim including some from the Number 11 collection

How did you choose the artists you have collaborated with?

For Fall 14 the collaboration was with a musician by the name of Niagara. That kind of happened organically as our art director was a fan of her and the band she was in. She is an artist and musician based in Detroit. He was a fan of her art and he reached out thinking it may not happen but it all ended up working out perfectly. It’s a tongue in cheek play on pop art, that’s the Fall line with Niagara. For Holiday the (Eric) Dressen collaboration was amazing. That was taking our heritage and roots in skateboarding and working with an iconic artist. He has worked with other brands before but the way we utilised him with the play on the playboy bunny is something we feel can resonate outside of skateboarding. It’s a cool art play but he has his skateboarding roots and is a tattoo artist now which is huge. We are definitely going to have a few events coming up which work around the Dressen collaboration and there will be some great follow ups with collaborations coming down the road.

You will be seeing more of this Dressen designed bunny

How important do you feel retail outlets are to the future of KR3W and skateboarding?

Extremely important. To me that is our whole image. Through your distribution channels and retail outlets you are ultimately going to make or break your brand. I feel it’s important for us to continue to align ourselves with the proper retail outlets which will allow us to grow as a brand.

Do you have any memories of visiting Slam City Skates in the past?

Yeah! The first time I visited Slam City Skates was probably about seven years ago and it was amazing. I remember walking in there for the first time, it’s such an iconic shop that you’re a bit blown away, that was the first time I was in London. Being in there and being surrounded by that really core shop was awesome. I met all the employees, everyone in there was super nice and very accommodating. To me that is a very important account for KR3W. We have similar accounts in North America. We feel that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity to grow in a shop like that. If we are to be considered a core brand we absolutely have to own that retail space and continue to provide product that makes sense for the Slam City consumer.

We would like to thank Jack for his time. New clothing will be arriving from KR3W in the near future. You can shop for what we have currently HERE.

All photos courtesy of Amanda Fordyce