The Mini Paceman Pop-up Store Launch, housed at 250 Chapel Street in Melbourne’s iconic Prahran was an intimate affair. It showcased Mini Australia’s collaboration with some of the world’s most creative design minds, teaming them together with their new Sports Activity Coupé model the Paceman, which the company says “rides comfortably on the intersection of design and functionality”.
The launch featured an initial and unique installation from the co-founder of New York label 3sixteen, Andrew Chen. His ‘no-season’ high quality, yet well-worn jeans were on display in the blue-lit store (see interview with Andrew below), accompanied by the sounds of DJ Andy Murphy, champagne from Laurent Perrier and canapés from Morris Jones.
The Mini Paceman has also collaborated with Men’s Style magazine (with editor Michael Pickering in attendance) to produce a newspaper called, The Pace, giving readers an “insight into the space where bold vision meets creative drive and cool design”.
Other creatives to be exhibited in the store include bespoke British tailor Timothy Everest, street style blogger Lee Oliveira, Sydney artist Paul Davies, and Portland leather goods designer Sam Huff.
As for the new Paceman model itself, it comes in a variety of forms, including standard and S Line petrol/diesel options, as well as the John Cooper Works and top-of-the-line model. Lara Antonelli
Interview with designer Andrew Chen of 3sixteen (and ambassador for Mini Paceman)
Hi Andrew. Firstly, tell us a little about your label 3sixteen. We believe it’s doing wonders overseas but the name’s fairly new on Australian shores…
We’re a small NYC-based company that was founded in 2003 and is run by my partner Johan Lam and myself. We focus primarily on raw selvedge denim jeans for men and women, and we currently sell to about 50 specialty boutiques worldwide – primarily in North America and Europe. We’re quite new to the Australian market, although we have an account – Wakefield Hotel in New Zealand – who’s been stocking our brand for 6 years now.
The label goes beyond denim and into basics, too, could you tell us where you’d draw the line? What apparel would you not design under the 3sixteen name?
We launched our first head-to-toe seasonal collection in 2008, which included button-down shirts, outerwear, footwear, accessories, and of course jeans. Although the collection performed well overall at retailers, we realised two things: first, there were inevitably styles that would not sell as quickly as others – and two, our jean sales were quickly outpacing any other category we were producing. After observing similar sales patterns in the following seasons, we made a tough decision in 2010 to cut the entire collection back to exclusively denim jeans.
So your goal was to put all of your time and resources into perfecting the one main product category?
Yes, and to turn the company into one that offered non-seasonal basics that could be sold and worn year round. Although it was tough to leave behind the excitement of designing new styles, we don’t regret the business decision one bit because it allowed 3sixteen to focus on what it did best and gave us the resources to make our jeans better every single season.
Longevity of wear is one of the selling points of the clothing you design. Is that an okay thing when fashion is supposed to come and go, thereby keeping the industry going forward economically?
This is a great question, but it’s one that we don’t need to think about too often. The truth of the matter is that there are plenty of guys out there who are still in need of a great jean that features premium fabrics, solid construction and a flattering cut. We’re thrilled when customers tell us that they love our jeans so much that they don’t feel the need to buy any more, because it tells us that we did our job. Those are the kinds of people who will not hesitate to recommend our products to friends, and that’s where we have the opportunity to earn new business. We’re not too concerned with keeping an industry moving forward through frivolous spending – we, just like everyone else, have wasted money buying things that we ended up regretting in six months’ time.
Why do you think you’ve been handpicked by Mini to showcase your fashion work in line with the release of the new Mini Paceman?
We were flattered to be selected by a brand as iconic as Mini to showcase our work, and while it didn’t occur to us at first, I’m starting to see parallels between the way that we operate as a brand and the path Mini has taken over decades of time to keep their brand strong and relevant.
What similarities would you say your product has with the coupé?
Mini has dubbed the Paceman a car that provides “a new slant on things”. When I first saw the car’s design, it had the obvious elements that helped identify it as a Mini right away – but the lower stance and chopped top give the Paceman a distinct look that the brand has never done before. Insomuch as the Paceman is a mix of heritage and innovation, we like to think that our jeans possess similarities in how they’re designed and assembled. All of our jeans are built with a focus on classic construction techniques from the 1940s to the ’60s, but applied to contemporary fits. Our selvedge denim is custom woven for us on vintage shuttle looms in Japan, a technique that has been largely abandoned due to its inefficiency – but we love it for the character and irregularities that it produces in our fabric. Our jeans are then assembled on machines that are 30+ years old, because we like the way they sew and you lose a bit of that character on modern machines that are designed to manufacture clothing faster. But our fits are fashion-forward and are designed for a modern customer, not for someone from the ’60s.
For more information on the Mini Paceman, visit www.minipaceman.com.au.
For more information on 3sixteen, visit www.3sixteen.com.