A Conversation With - Guillermo Andrade
We all have a story to tell that shapes us as people, be it geographically or creatively. Guillermo Andrade is no exception. As the founder and creative force behind 424 Inc and its older sibling concept space FOURTWOFOUR on Fairfax, Andrade is proof personified that the American Dream is still alive and kicking. We caught up with Guillermo at the Met in NYC to discuss his past, present and future moves /
Yours in particular is quite a journey from Guatemala to the US as a kid. That must have been quite a culture change at that informative point in your life?
I was 8-9 years old when I crossed the Mexican border to California. Looking back at it now I feel as if I had 2 childhoods. First one would be in Guatemala in a third world country and the polar opposite here in America.
You were also separated from some of your siblings right?
During the journey with the coyotes**(google it) my brother, aunt and I were on a bus through Mexico there was a random stop, patrol men got on to check for passports I was told to pretend to be asleep so I did. When I “woke up” my brother and aunt were being escorted off the bus they were sent to jail then deported back to Guatemala. The main guy who was bringing us to US went back to get them in Guatemala. I was taken to a house somewhere in Mexico City DF for about a month.. I learned later I was held for ransom by this other guy. I knew something was off when they took all my clothes and told me not to go outside ever... I still remember this multicolored puffer jacket that they took from me which I loved… crazy how life plays out.
A lot of people say that huge changes in a kids lives can have profound effects on their personalities, and in some cases it can fuel the fires of drive and ambition to burn brighter. Would you say the changes you went through made you work that bit harder or go that extra mile to prove yourself?
For me I would say this. Going through what I’ve been through and coming from where I come from, I owe it to the universe to always do the very best that I can. I have been blessed to be creative for a living, that is an unreal dream for people that start their life where I started mine. I know the joy of having nothing. Life will beat the shit out of you, there will be ups and downs forever but my motivation has never been to prove anyone wrong instead I want to prove the universe right.
Lets talk about FOURTWOFOUR and the space you opened on Fairfax Av, what had led you to that point? Was it part of a plan or were you more going with the flow?
Life lead me to Fairfax, the true belief in me of my partner Katrina Sirdofsky empowered me to fulfil my potential and go after these dreams.
You seemed to have been very connected to the LA music scene before and after the store was opened, how did that happen? Were you involved in music in anyway before fashion?
I’ve been a hip hop head since the first time I heard Wu-Tang and Nas. Music is always present in my process. At that time there was an abundance of energy on Fairfax with artists from all over the country coming to visit, having a shop on the block, I got to meet and be exposed to a lot of them before the whole world got to know them. I’ve been on Fairfax for 9 years I’ve seen a lot. When tumblr was king of social media that’s were a lot of us met. No, I was never in the music industry but when I met Rocky for example you could feel that he was a superstar. Tyler, Kendrick, Travis, Mac Miller RIP, Post Malone etc...man the list goes on forever .... . these guys just have a different light in their eyes. It’s super inspiring.
I learned quite a bit of how the music industry works behind the scenes from Katrina though. She’s been a part of some great successes so her knowledge was always relevant to what I was trying to shape at FourTwoFour On Fairfax.
I remember in Paris a few years back you were showing me some jewellery which seemed like a start point for the 424 line as you were making them for the store and starting to wholesale them. At this point had you thought about what you wanted to do with 424? How did the leap from Jewellery to apparel come about?
It was a genuine exploration of product, the same love went into all of them. It started with SneakerCrowns then that turned into a Jewellery collection. I’ve always loved clothes, the momentum from these other projects I guess where all pointing in the direction of clothing. Being on the block having all these guys around me who were kings of streetwear BlackScale, Diamond, The Hundreds, Freshjive and Supreme, that was an era! There was a demand for 424 apparel by then, and I was contemplating going for it. My homie Bradley was the final push he was like bro stop being scared!! MAKE THESE PEICES! Haha man bless him.
That first apparel collection had a geographical reference relating to the place your brother was right?
At the time I didn’t have a green card. I was arrested by I.C.E when I was 22 so I was not allowed to leave America for any reason until I had resolved my immigration case. That collection had screen shots from google maps and geo locations indicating specific places I would one day visit when I could travel, there was maybe 10 different city’s. My brother was deported around 2010. I’ve always wanted to go visit him, still haven’t been able to go, but I’ll be a citizen this year and that’s my first destination.
And looking at the SS19 line that is launching now, do you still apply personal experiences or emotional references to the design or graphic element of each collection?
It’s all raw emotional references. Past experiences Future dreams, relevant current events both in the world and internal. Every piece every graphic has a story.
Menswear i find is very much build on a range of tried and trusted silhouettes that we go back to each season for updates. You seem to have a knack for reworking your core styles in new ways and incorporating interesting techniques. How has your personal education in the industry over the last few years helped you to develop these ideas?
I work season after season to make the pieces I have better, it’s why I focus on the core pieces of a man’s wardrobe. For me it’s important to have a strong base to build a complete look. Personal education is all the money you spend on ideas that don’t work… haha
Taking it a bit broader, we all have those things that set our minds spinning and start us coming up with new ideas etc. What is it that gets you going?
Peace and quiet. Trees. Driving around in my car.
We have shot you in a museum surrounded by neoclassical sculpture, what is the relevance there?
I spend as much time as possible in museums or gallery’s basically any chance I get to be around master works of art I will go... be it an underground bunker or the Metropolitan in NYC.
On this day I thought I want to stand next to these marble sculptures with these beautiful intense draping fabrics on these men who were for one reason or another important enough to have a statue..
Lets talk about you as a buyer as well, are you still going out and finding those new brands that make you go wow...? How does that process work, do you find them or do they find you?
I see something fresh I go find it. Haha… I love to see people in fresh clothes. I get to see a lot of the world now, and I make it a point to bring these stories back to Fairfax and share them with the community. It’s important to the DNA of FourTwoFour that we keep showcasing the brands that inspire us. From a Dior pop up to a T-Shirt drop by Paisa Boys. A genuine respect for creatives worldwide.
I feel like this last 10 years has spawned a generation of what i call "Plate spinners”, people who are super driven and have more than one main role in their work (and sometimes home) life. Would you agree and if so why do you think this is?
I feel as entrepreneurs today we have unprecedented opportunities to be more connected then ever before. You can explore all aspects of yourself and in some cases execute multiple ideas at a high level. >>>> Insert Virgil Abloh. He is sprinting marathons and winning them miles ahead of the rest. If you got the stamina for it more power to you!
Add to that Social media which in itself can feel like another Job. Even though the benefits from a networking and business perspective are clear to see, the distraction and noise level is very high around all that. Whats your thoughts on how it will all progress?
Balance in life is important. It’s up to every individual to decide how much of themselves they are willing to sacrifice to the interweb. Feels like you get out of it what you put into it.
Finally, what are you looking ahead to in the next 6 months for the brand and store?
I will reshape the way we present and introduce product into the market at FourTwoFour. Focused around the brick and mortar experience. The brand, well... that grows and evolves every hour. It’s an exiting time for me, I will continue to explore all of the curiosity in my mind.