We’re at the end of another difficult but rewarding year and as we take some time to reflect on all that happened in 2021, it’s easy to see that despite the myriad challenges that presented themselves to us both personally and as a company, we have so much to be thankful for.
The year began with the specter of the pandemic still tangibly hanging heavy; with no vaccine in sight this past winter, the streets were empty - and operating two retail stores in the two largest cities in America definitely drove this point home. We were thankful that our teams on both coasts were able to stay healthy throughout and once spring rolled around and the weather warmed up, both NYC and LA came alive once again. We were even able to resume hosting in-person events, starting with a party at our NY shop to celebrate the release of the Throwing Fits x 3sixteen Summer Fatigues. It felt like this event was one of the first times we were able to get together safely with a larger group of people and the vibes were strong. Later on in the year, we threw our first LA party in 2 years to celebrate the shop’s 5 year anniversary. Entitled “Cinco,” the event included a special collaborative beer with our friends at Homage Brewing and arguably the best burgers in LA being cooked right outside our shop. Cultivating community is central to what we do as a brand - nothing makes us happier than being the conduit whereby like-minded people who appreciate clothing that’s made with thoughtfulness and care can connect with each other. Being able to throw in-person events once again this year was super special and helped us to remember how much we missed it.
And on the topic of clothes: 2021 was special to us for the reason that we were able to finally unveil all of the groundwork we had been laying over the past year in partnering with new production facilities around the world. From Portugal, to Peru, to India, we’ve had a lot of fun widening the scope and the depth of what we can do. Reframing 3sixteen as a brand that is so much more than “Japanese denim that is made in the USA” - a point of view that is super important but also, in many ways, limiting - has been exciting because we really believe that the proof is in the product. This year we’ve been able to debut so many new ideas: textiles that are woven by hand, garments that are indigo dyed by hand, and sweaters that are produced from cotton seed to final garment all within a few miles. And while we believe strongly in every product we make, having such a robust response on the customer end to these new opportunities was really affirming. Alongside these fresh partnerships, though, we were able to make more jeans and tees with our factory in San Francisco than we ever have before. Our core strengths continue on in the US while we are able to expand our capabilities with industry experts in countries that excel at their respective crafts. We are excited to showcase even more of this in 2022.
On the responsibility front, 2021 marks the first full year where we committed as a brand to contributing to a portfolio of nonprofit organizations on a monthly basis irregardless of the company’s profitability (we wrote about this in our commitment letter in 2020). Alongside these monthly donations, we also donated our company’s proceeds on Juneteenth to Prosperity Now, an organization fightinig for wealth redistribution through advocacy and education. We partnered with Throwing Fits to make a contribution to Welcome to Chinatown to both bring attention to and provide support for struggling local Chinatown businesses. And in the wake of violent attacks on Asians nationwide, we also donated to the Asian American Federation to aid in their advocacy and grassroots efforts to protect the elderly and vulnerable.
Beyond our accomplishments as a company, though, 2021 has been a year of personal growth. Inspired by our buddy Mitch Goldstein’s super-comprehensive list of things he liked in 2021, we thought that it would be nice for each member of our team to stop and reflect on the experiences, memories, pickups, music, and art that brought us joy this past year.
As always, thank you for journeying with us. We sincerely appreciate all of your support and look forward to serving you well in 2022.
Beatjunkies Institute of Sound: Best school ever. Learning how to mix and cut it up with some legendary names in the industry is totally worth my Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Self Titled “Vince Staples” Album: Repping the LBC, Vince delivers soothing melodies while maintaining the bravado of traditional gangster rap lyrics. His monotone voice is definitely way more threatening than earlier projects, but it suits the mood of the album as a whole. Worth a listen.
Hamburgersnice: The breakfast burger is my all time favorite smash burger. A fried egg, jam, cheese, beef, in between a bun is all you need to start the day right. Be sure to order 3 or you’ll regret it.
YouTube: I don’t know how I managed to kill 4 hours watching random videos on the most random stuff. Here’s how: I am now an expert at the Japanese art of folding paper aka origami. Please like and subscribe.
Birkenstock Bostons: I don’t know what took me so long to put these abominations on my feet. I mean how can anyone possibly wear these? They are the best. Honestly most worn footwear in 2021. I need more.
"Enter The Infantry, Vol. 2" by Marino Infantry: A top five album of the year per my Spotify wrapped, this project by the Baltimore rap collective headed by A$AP ANT was consistently on loop for me this year. This project evokes a lot of nostalgia, from the Ruff Ryders inspired cover to the wide array of sports and video game references riddled throughout the 31-track project. I also went to their show a few months back at The Bowery Electric, where they played a lot of my favorites from the project like “Best of the Best” and “Albert Wesker”.
Fitted Hats: Over the past year I’ve been really getting into fitted hats, specifically releases from places like Hat Club and SportsWorld165 in Queens. The designs can be inspired by anything, with shops releasing hats themed after Roald Dahl novels, Lucky Charms cereal, and even Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn, NY: One thing I tried to do in 2021 was spend a lot of time outdoors, after not being able to do so the year prior. My neighborhood isn’t necessarily known for its green space, but this cute little park served as a great space for reading and relaxing during the warmer months of the year.
The Sopranos: This winter I started watching the Sopranos for the first time with my roommates. Beyond being a brilliant series, I very much enjoyed repeatedly quoting the funniest lines to everyone I know.
Air Fryer: I don’t have to say much for this one. Probably best investment of the whole year.
"Bo Jackson" by Boldy James & The Alchemist: This one really hit home for me. I would listen to this album while working out, working in the office, and going on long drives. For me, it was the album of 2021.
Filthy @ 5 Podcast: This is a UK based football (soccer) show and I love it because it's not your typical soccer podcast that analyzes tactics with professional journalists. Instead, it's a bunch of hilarious personalities ranging from music producers, Youtubers, and comedians. This is something I discovered back in 2020 and it really lifted my spirits in times when it was hard to find things to laugh about.
Patagonia Provisions - Spanish Paprika Mackerel: I've known that Patagonia started doing their provisions a few years ago, but I just recently tried them out myself and I was really impressed. The Spanish Paprika Mackerel is by far my favorite over rice, with some nice bread, or you can eat it alone. It's a great quick lunch or snack!
Asics Gel Nimbus 23: I started running a lot in 2020, but I've struggled to find running shoes that I love until I wandered into an Asics store and discovered the Gel - Nimbus 23. It was common for me to have joint pain after a long run, but these are the first shoes where I experienced no pain at all. Not only do they work, they also look really cool and came in a lot of nice colors...because I like looking cool while I run.
Montbell Rain Trekker Jacket: It doesn't rain much in LA, but when it does, something simple that you can layer is key. I love Montbell because it's not something you can find at REI and when I travel back home to the Bay Area, it's nice to not be in heard of North Face and Patagonia.
Atlanta Season 3: But also seasons 1 and 2. I'd always heard good things about this show and wanted to watch it but it either wasn't on a streaming service or I hadn't gotten a hold of someone's Hulu login yet. I especially enjoyed the show because Paper Boi has the exact same personality as our operations manager Roland Blunts.
"Amperland, NY" by Pinegrove: One of my favorite bands, introduced to me by our old Sales Director Spencer Ramirez one Fall afternoon in the 3s shop, dropped an album of live re-recordings from their communal house in upstate New York along with a short film. One my most listened to records of the year.
Sunright Tea Studio Oolong Milk Tea: This boba shop took over Southern California this year, starting in Orange County and then opening over a dozen locations, two of which are conveniently mere blocks away from the 3s shop and our new crib in West LA. Good milk tea is hard to come by in LA and their online ordering system is super fast and convenient. The Sunright fruit tea is also really good for something that is a bit more refreshing.
Basketball Cards: I got back into collecting basketball cards this year in a big way and it was a much needed distraction from all the stresses of day to day life during COVID. I used to save up my allowance to buy one pack out of an opened box and now as adults we open whole cases of boxes at a time. One thing hasn't changed though, eBay still sucks.
Sightglass Owl's Howl: Because we stayed at home all year, we didn't frequent our favorite cafes every day like we normally do. A subscription to Sightglass' bags of whole bean espresso was a real life saver and the ritual of pulling a shot and frothing milk every morning gave me a real sense of normalcy and sanity.
"For the First Time" by Black Country, New Road: Gabe showed me this album one day in the shop (thanks Gabe) and it quickly became one of my most listened to albums this year. The sound is like nothing I’ve heard before: it’s as if you melded post-punk, folk music, and free jazz into some odd amalgamation that doesn’t seem like it should work but does. It’s a wild ride from start to finish. I often catch myself restarting the album as soon as it’s done. I listened to it 5 times in a row one day in my studio while painting, which is very out of character for me.
Shapes From Out Of Nowhere: This exhibit at the Met catalogued abstract ceramics fro the early 20th century until today. My wife Mallory and I both make ceramics - mine are sculptural, hers are more functional - and we both found very different things to love. I actually went back a few times and each time found myself inspired, especially by the George Ohr and Peter Voulkos pieces.
Goodfellas at Film Forum: Gabe, my wife Mallory, and I went to see Goodfellas at Film Forum this year. We had all seen the movie countless times- its a favorite of all of ours. The experience of seeing a favorite movie in a theater with a crowd of fans is totally unique and unforgettable. Everyone was laughing, quoting, cheering- it was really a collective moment of joy in and an otherwise rough couple of years.
Glass Pieces: Seeing Glass Pieces (a ballet from Jerome Robbins using Philip Glass’ music) was a huge highlight to my year. I was never very interested in dance or ballet but this completely shattered my preconceptions. The set, the costumes, the choreography, the music- it all comes together in this absolutely incredible way. As a Philip Glass fan, it was great to hear some of his classic pieces in a new context.
Solar Terrain: In January, Spencer from Mount Sunny asked me to show some of my recent artwork at the opening of their new space in Phoenix in October and I excitingly obliged. The show, called Solar Terrain, gave me some real purpose with my artwork this year and provided an opportunity to push it in new directions. I made 4 big fabric assemblages, 12 ceramic pieces, and 10 hand dyed and patchwork clothing pieces. I was able to travel out for the opening and it was honestly kind of surreal. I’ve been making art in some capacity for most of my life but I’ve never really showed it so being able to see it all in one place was special - I can’t even describe the feeling. I’m eternally thankful to Spencer and Shelby at Mount Sunny and everyone who bought anything from the show.
Gabe Del Signore
"Garbology" by Aesop Rock and Blockhead: My favorite record of 2020 was Aes' last full length, so this isn't super surprising. His flow on top of Blockhead's stripped down beats is, in my opinion, as good as hip hop can be.
You're Wrong About: One of the best history pods out there. The DC sniper episodes blew my mind.
Rocket League: It's a video game where you play soccer with rocket powered cars. Easily spent more hours on this than any other game. This is the only "IYKYK" I will include.
Polar Seltzer: Ideally Grapefruit or Lime. The King stays the King.
BLT's from the Bodega: I eat 2-3 bodega BLT's per week and I don't care who knows it. My deli guy gets concerned when I DON'T order one.
Dune: In the pre-pandemic world, one of my favorite things to do was go take in a movie solo. The thought of going to the movies again hadn’t even crossed my mind until I watched Dune for the first time on HBO Max. Even on my laptop screen I was struck by just how beautifully shot Dune was, and knew i had to see it in IMAX. I’m glad this movie was the first movie I chose to see in a theater again, it was even better the second time around.
What Had Happened Was Season 1: Our operations manager Roland shows me so much cool stuff that I could make a whole list of things he’s turned me onto this year. For everybody’s sake, I’ll just stick to one and talk about the podcast “What Had Happened Was.” Every season, Open Mike Eagle (the host) chooses one person to focus on and does a deep dive on said subject’s career. The first season focuses on legendary producer Prince Paul, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. I love anything related to music history, but getting to hear these stories straight from the artist’s mouth is very beautiful and rare, especially in hip hop.
Soccer: After a long break due to COVID, I finally got to play soccer again this year. It felt amazing to be back on the field with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, and I even got invited to join a team in a co-Ed league. As someone who only started really playing soccer as an adult, the level of competition was much higher and I really enjoyed pushing myself to get better throughout the season.
MF DOOM: With the news that our beloved supervillain had passed coming right at the end of last year, I spent 2021 going back through DOOM’s discography. I spent a LOT of time in the LA shop this year, and the Special Herbs and Spices series soundtracked a good chunk of that time.
Working with my best friend: There’s not much to explain beyond the heading. I’ve known Ricky since we were 6 years old, we grew up together and now we get to work together in the best possible environment. I’m glad Rick is on the 3s team and I think everyone else would agree.
Nothing Earphones: Can’t believe how good these are considering the $100 pricepoint.
"Thank You" by Lady Wray: She has only gotten better, and this album personifies that.
Kirkland Cheese, Fruit, and Nut Pack: The perfect snack. My go-to when I need something real quick to hold me over.
Ricky Powell – The Individualist: Truly entertaining doc on a truly entertaining person. Glad he was alive to walk you through it!
Roland Torres III: The best thing of 2021 hands down, my son. Easiest pick of the list, no comparison, no reason to argue. Done, finished, finito.
My skateboard complete: Antihero board, Thunder Hollow trucks, Spitfires, Bones Reds and Jessup grip. For my couple skate seshes a week it’s been holding out strong.
El Sereno Skatepark: Kinda ties into my first one. It’s got everything from rails, ledges, stairs and transition. Plus it’s on my way home from work so I feel guilty if I don’t stop by to say what’s up to the homies.
Kosuke Popcorn Chicken Ramen (medium spicy): Kosuke has been around for a while and whenever I get my ramen craving I go for this because the broth is really tasty and has a decent kick to it, and the popcorn chicken is always juicy and seasoned perfectly as they give you a ton.
Yerba Mate Classic Gold: I’ve never tried Yerbas until recently and David got me hooked after buying me one from Grow market down the street from 3s. It’s like a perfect wake me up for the last minute sales of the day and the fizziness has me addicted.
League of Legends: Truthfully I’ve been playing this game on and off for like 10 years, with or without my friends. I started season 2 and it’s on season 12 now and the new changes to the Jungle just make me want to master my champions pool since they’re are so many to choose from so it’s hard not to play since I want to try them all. My favorite champ right now is Shaco cuz he can stealth, place traps around and clone himself and with the new item changes I can play him like I used to back in season 3 when I could constantly invade the enemy players, jungle clone myself, place traps on the exits, and infuriate him as I kill them and stealth away leaving him probably raging at his teammates.
Fortnite: I haven’t played video games in 10+ years and was never much of a gamer, but decided to pick up Fortnite a few months ago because my younger son is into it and I thought it’d be a fun way to spend time together. Turns out that I am way more into it than he is. I’m still not good and probably never will be but it’s still deeply satisfying to smoke some random 8 year old to earn a Victory Royale at the end of a long workday.
E.P. Carillo Pledge Prequel: My friend Christian put me onto this cigar - it won Cigar Aficionado’s 2020 Cigar of the Year, not that awards mean much to me. I know what I like and what I don't like, and I really enjoyed this one. I tend to prefer Cubans because they’re smoother and less aggressive, but this one was a real beauty and I went and bought a bunch more and passed them off to friends this summer. I think sharing cigars is just as good as smoking them yourself (thanks for teaching me that, Wilson).
@marblemaniki: I think I first found this digital artist’s work on Instagram at the end of 2020 but I’ve been enjoying everything he’s been posting this past year. His work is hard to describe, it’s set in some surrealist future with weirdly satisfying repetitive actions that loop endlessly. They’re very relaxing for me to watch every time they pop up on my feed. Sometimes my boys will ask me to pull it up on my phone so they can watch too. It’s got the same addictive nature as Cleaning Satisfy.
“Sometimes I Might Be Introvert” by Little Simz: I’ve been a fan of Simbi ever since I heard her on Gilles Peterson’s BBC 6 radio show a few years ago. She’s got a nasty flow but is also disarmingly vulnerable with her lyrics. This newest album is easily her best yet both lyrically and sonically. The beats are lush, cinematic and weighty, and altogether more cohesive than any previous project - and lyrically she lays out her personal growth and struggle out for the world to see. This album is about loving blackness, loving being a woman, and most importantly, trying to learn how to love herself.
My wife quitting her job: She’s been at the same place of employment ever since she graduated from college and has put everything into it. I’ve been urging her to take some time off to prioritize herself and am incredibly proud of her for having the courage to actually do it this past fall. Our family has loved having her around more - it’s been wonderful.