Hip-Hop Meets The Louvre
After launching his budding street-luxe brand, 424, only three years ago in 2015, Andrade has shown no signs of slowing down. At the forefront of his brand philosophy lies an insatiable curiosity and a genuine desire to use fashion as a catalyst to inspire growth and an honest awareness in each wearer—and as a catalyst for real, tangible change.
When asked to capture the essence of 424 in two words, Andrade replied with little hesitation, “silk-woven denim”—a simple statement that encapsulates the beautifully ubiquitous intersection of the everyday and the refined; the commonplace and the radical; the low and the high. His clothing, and the sentiment with which it’s created, are as genuine as the designer himself.
Last week, having just left the Guggenheim, Andrade popped by office to chat about drunk chess, community and the absolute fucking shitstorm that is Trump and his administration.
How’d you like it the Guggenheim?
It was cool. Frank Lloyd Wright is awesome. I don’t even care what’s inside, I was just going to see what he designed.
Yeah, the architecture is a work of art in itself.
I grew up just north of San Francisco—I’m from Marin County. The jail in the city hall is actually designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
That’s so California.
It’s sick too, like this perfect, weird oasis. It’s underground—a sloped grass hill with a little door in it. There are actually more than two jails there.
You’re like, ‘I didn’t go to that one, I went somewhere else.’
I had friends who did! But I actually did go to jail somewhere else.
How did that happen?
It was immigration stuff. You know all this ICE stuff happening? I got picked up by ICE when I was 23-years-old.The problem has always been as bad as it is now—it’s an ever-present problem. I mean, I’ve dealt with that issue since I came to this country.
With all these issues, though, it’s almost like, if it gets picked up or spoken about by the right person, it becomes cool to care about certain things. Issues become trends.
I get so upset by that bullshit. You know what, though? At least the dialogue is open, the conversation is alive and people are more aware. For me, every stupid thing that Trump says hurts a bit, but it furthers the conversation, it opens it up even more. We started to really see the underbelly—the band-aid is off, and the cut is infected. So, for me it’s cool, I’ve been saying this shit all along. Now, people are starting to listen, and here we are. It’s a great time for all of this, and he’s going to win again, and he’s going to go four more years.
You think so?
For sure, this is like the rebuttal—we got Obama for eight years, now it’s Trump’s turn.
I guess so. But after the storm there is always a rainbow. I’ve heard whispers of Oprah.
Oh, that would be fresh.
I wanted Michelle, but that’s not gonna happen. She must be tired—they’ve both been through the wringer.
Michelle is over it, Michelle is like, ‘Fuck that.’ The Trump administration is pretty much a bunch of suits trying to put each other in check—we’re just bystanders.
Totally. But don’t say he’s going to win another term! That would be awful.
He’s already fucking up so bad, if he wins, he’s going to just completely destroy our country.
Maybe our country is like a phoenix, though—it will rise from the ashes.
I’m counting on that, personally—that the whole system will self-destruct, and we just let him do that, then we pick up the pieces. I see a lot of that happening.
Yeah, and also with this atmosphere the presidency has created, a lot of formerly closeted racists have exposed themselves to the public. They can’t hide anymore, we gotchu, we have your names on list, we know who the fuck you are!
Exactly. I watch CNN every morning and it makes me feel like a grown-up. I wake up, I put on the news, I have my cable TV, make my coffee. Tt definitely makes me feel like, ‘Okay, I am a fully-functioning adult.’
Cable TV is the only true marker of adulthood. Now, I’m going to ask you some of my questions: if you were a cartoon character, what would be in your closet?
I would have the closet of Bruce Wayne, but I’d throw some Rick Owens into the mix, some CCP, all the dark lord stuff—I’m into that.
Nice choice. Your new collection can be described as _________ meets __________.
Hip-hop sentiment meets the Louvre. [It’s] my day to day. So, the highs and the lows—not just in spirit. I’ll have dinner at a taco stand but breakfast in Gramercy Park. It’s just kind of my normal state of being—I like the true mix of things. Not like a fancy hoodie—I like a real hoodie from where the hoodies are actually from.
I like that a lot. Community and the characteristics it fosters in an individual is something that seems to be very important to you. How does 424 foster that?
I guess it’s just familiarity—like, how do we communicate to all the people already paying attention? Making something new that they don’t know, giving the audience something new, or even attracting a new person to what we’re doing—to sort of simplify all of the content to where it’s super easy to digest, whether it’s a color, a textile, an image. For example, this season, taking an abandoned opera house in Detroit and giving it the feeling of being inside an Italian villa. Because the colors are there, and even the feeling is there, even though it doesn’t look the same. We collaged this image to make it feel like it’s this very beautiful Parisian or Italian palace in the color scheme, even though it’s in Detroit, which is destroyed, and not even supposed to look like that. The first time I went to Detroit I thought it was Iraq, like, ‘This can’t be real’—I just couldn’t believe that a city like that existed in America. I grew up in the hood, so I’ve seen non-beautiful, more working-class cities. But this place was different. It was completely abandoned—you see a skyscraper boarded up, with the lights off, and it’s sixty floors high. It’s creepy as fuck.
So, the whole collection focuses on taking moments and moving them, placing them within a different context. America’s motto is in the name of progress, so when something no longer can turn a profit, people say ‘Fuck it’ and board it up. It’s about reminding people that my nature didn’t completely nurture me—I’m not a product only of my environment, I can live here and I can live there. So, the sense of community is really bringing things, places and conversations together as much as I can. It’s inclusive—that’s what it is. Fashion is intimidating, and so are uncomfortable, real conversations. So, when someone doesn’t have to really deal with not being able to pay their bills, or being homeless, it can be very uncomfortable to talk about that with someone who actually is having a hard time, and they just avoid the contact all together. If there was a place to meet in the middle, then maybe we can make the fancy Parisian people appreciate Detroit—or at least try.
Fashion, especially, has this reputation of being purely superficial, but on so many levels it has the ability to be so much more than that.
Yeah, exactly. I think it’s because of the excess that’s associated with the fashion realm—it’s because of all the stuff. We all have way more than we actually need, legit, so what is it’s real purpose outside of ‘I’m cold, I need a coat,’ or ‘I’m cold, I don’t need five hundred coats.’ So, for me, that’s one of the things I try to focus on—that I’ve been lucky enough to have a voice, and have people who care about what I say, maybe I should try and say something worth hearing.
So, when we talk about community, or more specifically my community—according to Mr. Trump, I’m a criminal, and I’m this and that because I’m a Hispanic man, which is factually wrong on so many levels. I am a contributing member of my direct and indirect community—I followed my dreams and by most accounts, I have achieved them, and I create jobs for other Americans. His whole rhetoric, with me at least, is off. I would love to hear what his response is to something like that, because all of the things he’s saying just don’t apply to me. I’m home.
You are a living, breathing, beautiful contradiction. It’s awesome. What sport would be the funniest to add a mandatory amount of alcohol to?
I feel like hockey players already drink a lot. I would like to see chess played after a really high level of Hennessey intake. Aggressive chess. I think a physical sport would be too messy and chaotic—I’d prefer to watch someone who is a total brain kind of lose it.
That would be so psychologically thrilling because I imagine the people who play chess have to exercise such a high level of control and discipline.
Yeah, you would just have to lose control, and get loose, and then their true ego would show, because they wouldn’t have the patience. They’d be out here, wasted, screaming, ‘KING ME!’
What references inspired the creative direction for the shoot we did?
It’s a mix of everything I’ve been telling you, because from the beginning until now, nothing that I’ve done has dramatically changed. I make mostly the same carry-over pieces, they’ve just gotten nicer. I think, ‘How do we take my experiences as an American, my experience of life as a kid until now, the journey that I’ve had until this present moment, and inject it with all of the new things that I’m learning?’ I grew up listening to Nas, Wu-Tang, Miguel, and being able to draw meeting points—like, where does Nas meet said painting? How do these things connect? That’s always been the real inspiration. We take everyday pieces of clothing that serve a real purpose and elevate it, like a massive shirt cut like a Dickies shirt, but sourced in Italy.
People like my dad, for example, worked construction forever, painted houses and shit, so you know he’s not going to go get a tailored suit and act all that—it’s just not going to happen. But I wanted to give him a two-thousand dollar shirt one day. So, I made it, and it’s perfect. It’s a moment, and he gets to feel luxurious and comfortable in what he’s in, and that means the world to me.