We spoke to skatewear company KR3W’s Design Director, Jack Toledo, about his role in development, their artistic collabs and what’s next for the the denim-led clothing company.
Tell us a bit about KR3W’s background…
JT – KR3W has been a staple in the core skate market since it’s inception in 2003. We are credited with introducing the first skate jean for men with spandex in the fabric. This came from Andrew Reynolds having to wear women’s jeans in order to get the slim fit denim he was looking for with the comfort of stretch. Through the years we have seamlessly integrated elements of fashion, lifestyle and a darker aesthetic which are all part of our brand DNA. We continue to be rider focused while drawing inspiration from art, music and the unique culture we surround ourselves with. The perception of KR3W as a denim and bottoms mainstay comes with the desire and drive for us to remain the best at what we do.
What is your role and how did you come on board with KR3W?
JT – I am the Apparel Design Director for KR3W and have been working here for just over 3 years now. As the Apparel Design Director my job is to set the general direction on a seasonal basis as far as theme, color 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. I came on board with the brand in 2011 as the Senior level apparel designer and just worked my way up to my new role as the Design Director. I have always been a fan of the brand so when I landed the gig I knew I was home for the foreseeable future.
You’ve worked with some cool artists like Winston Smith in the past, what are the latest artist collabs with Niagra and Eric Dressen about?
JT – Yes, we’ve been very fortunate to work with such an awesome array of artists both in the past as well as the present. Most of that is due to the fact that we have an awesome Graphic Art Director in house by the name of Mike Z. He actually stepped to Niagara for the FALL 2014 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.
How did you guys first get involved working with artists as a brand?
JT – I feel like that comes down to the main man behind KR3W from the start, Angel Cabada. He’s an OG in many ways but has strong roots and ties within the LA scene, that’s organically brought about a connection to influential artists, musicians, models, DJ’s etc etc… He knows what’s up and has aligned our brand with the right people out the gate.
KR3W is mainly about skaters and skate culture, do you feel that goes in hand with the artists you choose to work with?
JT – Absolutely. Now more than ever I feel it’s extremely important to make calculated moves in all that you do so as to not sacrifice brand integrity. If you slip up once and begin to start chasing shit thats out of your lane you’ll get called out and there’s no coming back from that. Consumers and retailers are much more educated in what’s going on culturally on a global level as they have visibility via social media and the web. With that said, we will continue to align ourselves with artists that speak back to our darker yet modern aesthetic we are pushing. Thats not to say that it will always tie back to skate though. It’s also important for us to speak outside of the skate culture and exist within more of the lifestyle side of things.
What’s next for you guys? Will you keep pushing the art collabs and supporting the art scene?
JT: We are focused on progression and continuing to elevate our brand message within our future collections. There is a very strong collaboration we did with an iconic photographer coming for Q1 2015. There are also some great things happening with our Q3 and Q4 2015 collections. I can’t give much away at this point but yes we will continue to support the art scene and are working on planning events around those projects to properly get the word out. With us being a smaller brand we have the ability to work on more of the DIY approach in terms of seeding the message out which is a great advantage for us.