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Guillermo Andrade: Sportswear On My Own Terms

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“Nothing more comfortable than a cool hoodie, you know? A good hoodie has been great since they invented it.” This is the truth that has made Guillermo Andrade’s life a rollercoaster. His streetwear brand, 424 on Fairfax, has become one of the most exciting labels in recent years, collaborating with Adidas, sponsoring football club Arsenal, and making waves all around. Starting from the ground up, Andrade faced some hardships but always kept working aided by a spark of passion—as well as a pencil, paper, and an X-acto knife.

Andrade jokes that he found his passion for clothes when he realized he was never going to make it to the Premier League. However, his path was no consolation prize. “Most people ultimately follow this little sort of essence inside them that they can’t really explain,” Andrade tells Remezcla on a Zoom call. “It’s a feeling. You feel it in your body, your skin.”

His desire to find a career had to do with his father, who brought Andrade to the U.S. from Guatemala “through the tunnels and the desert […] I spent so much time telling him, ‘I’m never gonna need this, I can’t wait to never paint the house as long as I live,’” he says. “But the funny thing is I still follow the process he taught me how to paint a house. It’s how I conceptualize ideas and execute them. It’s all from painting houses with my dad. The basic laws don’t change because it’s a house or a t-shirt.”

Andrade began selling his t-shirts and hoodies on Fairfax in Los Angeles. His breakthrough came with the invention of “sneaker crowns,” footwear accessories which he got a design patent for. His next step was opening a store, a crucial step he learned after working on the Apple Store selling iPhones and gadgets. “The space in which we share this product, it’s just as important,” he explains. “We need to have a place where people can come and interact. It’s something more than just the thing you’re selling. You want to show people what’s the environment like, what are the employees like, how do you treat customers; everything counts.”

Learning the ropes was a steep climb, confessing to googling terms like “wholesale” on the spot. “A lot of things you get wrong,” he says about the ups and downs of the business. “Most things you get wrong, but then there’s a few that you get right. You know, and I think a healthy balance of those two things is great.” Andrade counts family as a big help for him because they are “right there in the mud with you.”

The mentality to keep going has made him unaware of his achievements. It took the 2020 lockdown to slow down and appreciate his efforts. “I realized how much I didn’t really take the time to appreciate [things] while [they were] happening. Projects that I dreamed of doing my whole life. I remember they came out and it was like, I didn’t even think about it. ‘Yeah, I’ll do the next one.’ And that’s not what it’s about. I’m just starting to celebrate things that happened a year ago, like ‘holy sh-t, guys! We did that!’”

Andrade counts social media as a big factor in the launching and success of 424. Specifically, he credits Tumblr as instrumental for his effort. “When you put something out into the world, like-minded people will enter into your life,” he says about his experience online. “We gravitate to each other. We were from all parts of the world [and] we all just connected. If you’re fortunate enough to meet someone [who] sees something in you that you don’t see in yourself, it’s going to be a big boost for your spirit. I don’t have any degrees and a lot of the people who I’ve met then don’t have them either. I think [the internet] helped us level the playing field and sort of let our ideas be judged.” Andrade says that many of those friendships persist to this day, following their achievements with pride and inspiring him to do his best as well.

A highlight of Andrade’s career was collaborating with the football club Arsenal, a favorite of his family. The opportunity came when he ran ads during a Premier League game, sparking the curiosity of the English club. The advertisement wasn’t bought with the intention of seeing a return of the investment; in fact, Guillermo chucks the action in part because he wanted his dad to see it during the game. “If you do everything expecting a return of the investment, you’re gonna live a pretty f**king dull life,” he says. “Because football is so close to my heart. And now my name is now a part of the Arsenal legacy. My passion took me to a different place, as well as my love for this sport and fashion. Maybe it’s the first time I ever felt proud of something I did.”

In addition to his sponsorship of Arsenal, Guillermo counts collaborations with Adidas as well as a future showing during Fashion Week. He owes it all to passion, honesty, and energy to do something, but he is quick to point out that merely putting out your desires to the world is not enough. “People can feel your intentions, so I think it’s important to be honest about what you want,” he advises. ”And then you have to show up when it’s time to do something right. I learned that the hard way. It’s important to recognize the opportunity and then grab it.”

His biggest motivation comes back to family. He wants to be an example to his younger brothers as well as representing his culture everywhere he goes. “You realize that there’s a bigger purpose. I want everyone who sees that Latino guy and understand like ‘yo, we’re all here.’ Being the Latino guy in Paris for the first time and we’re going to Fashion Week. You know, it’s like, ‘F**k yeah; we’re cooking, bro.’”