James Bradford III is a very clever man. Not only that but he is also incredibly creative. As a kid he would spend time taking trainers apart and remaking them to suit his style, he would spray paint designs on to t-shirts and would even use sharpies to colour in his AF1's! After studying, and receiving a masters in, Systems Engineering he decided to take life by the throat and step in to the world of owning a business. So it only seemed natural for him to start his own brand. With that said, I welcome you to Troisième. We caught up with him to hear about his journey so far. Here's how it went...
Hello mate. For those reading this that haven’t heard of you or your brand can you please give them an introduction.
My name is James Bradford III (29) from East Point, GA USA, home of the OUTKASTs, Graduate of The Tuskegee University with a Master’s in Systems Engineering and I am the creative director of Troisieme Limited; pronounced Trois like Menage, Zee like the letter and Em like Emma Stone.
Bloody hell, systems engineering to street wear is a big change! What would an average day for you sound like?
My alarm goes off at 4:45am. I try to “meditate” until the snooze goes off around 6:30. Then I check my email and any other notifications that I have. Prepare for work by listening to NPR and arrange my schedule mentally. Throughout the day I send emails to clients, retail locations and manufacturers about upcoming collections and ideas that I would like to develop. I take a break between 11 & 1:30 to re-organize and create a new plan of attack. By 4pm I am done. I have side projects that I am continually creating to maintain a creative mind that I work on between 5 and 11:30. Then I “meditate” about the next day.
Your days are busy then! What are your top three interests?
They tend to change but currently Wendelstein 7-x, which is a fusion power generator utilising the stellarator design, similar to the ITAR but more complex, how Reverse Osmosis can help with the drought and expanding the Troisieme brand of course!
I don’t know what half of those words mean but it does sound interesting. Who are your role models/inspirations?
My family and friends. They all have a niche that I admire. The women in my family are incredibly strong, ridiculously smart and I have never seen anything like it. Anyone that has been to a family event and hears the discussions and debates we have can see exactly what I mean. My friends guide me. Most would think my family would do that but I can see my friend’s triumphs and difficulties in real time, as they notice mine. It allows me to make quicker adjustments on the fly that wouldn’t happen if it were a family member just schooling me on the pitfalls of life. Having the solid foundation of my family and the versatility of my friendships is what allows me to incorporate multiple ideas and aesthetics into Troisieme.
That’s awesome man. I love it when people’s role models are those closest to them. Having great people around you is always a benefit when you’re on a path of greatness yourself. When did you start Troisieme and what was your motivation behind it?
Troisieme started late 2012. I had been out of undergrad for two years with no job. I was working odd jobs to not take an allowance from my mother. I still don’t know why she didn’t kick me out. I would be starting school again soon but I knew I would need an escape from the studying and grind of post grad education and I also wanted to make some money. I’d always done things with my clothes in the past, be it colouring my AF1s with a sharpie or spray painting dirty tall white tees. So I chose to make a few shirts.
It sounds like you’re a very determined man, that’s good to see. You’ll go far with an attitude like that. Where did the name ‘Troisieme’ come from?
Troisieme means third in French. It took me a while to narrow it down from a bunch of random words. I decided to revolve the brand around something that related to me. As I am the third James with my family name and there aren’t that many thirds in the world, I thought it would be different. The French aspect comes in from extending that uniqueness. France is one of the fashion capitals. I wanted to study French in middle school so I could sweet talk the ladies... Didn’t work btw. So I went with Troisieme.
Ah ok now it all makes sense. That’s a good process you went through – it’s always a good foundation for a brand to have a name that is relevant and not just a word plucked out of the dictionary. In the grand scheme of things you’re a fairly new brand, what would you say is the hardest thing you have encountered so far? And also the best part?
The most difficult part is the process. Going from idea to sample to product is not a linear process. The fashion industry is more secretive than the government - or I’m not looking in the right places. Finding the right manufacturers, having a solid idea that can even be created into a product, making something people like are all the challenges that I encounter daily, which are all a part of the business. Most folks don’t realise the steps that have been taken to make the most basic t-shirts. The best part is conquering the process. There are only a few things more satisfying than creating but that’s a topic for another day.
Ye I get that. I once started my own brand so understand exactly how difficult the process can be sometimes. Now, I may have stalked your Instagram a little, and I believe I saw some pictures of footwear. Is this something that you are hoping to branch out into?
Most definitely! We created a sneaker too early in our brand for it to be successful but we will revisit that shoe and others very soon! I have always been into sneakers. Growing up I collected all of the shoeboxes for 3 or 4 years until I had enough to touch the ceiling. Like I mentioned before, I used to colour my shoes, take parts of old shoes and glue them to others. I was into it! My dream job as a kid was designing shoes for the Goddess of Victory. We’d like to be a full range brand, not just the standard issue items.
That would be awesome man. I loved the look of them so I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for when you reintroduce them. Designing a trainer has always been a dream of mine too. It’s rare for a clothing brand to also sell art, is it yourself that is the artist or one of your team? It’s really inspiring to see someone doing something different.
Thank you! I have always noticed art and I think it is an essential part to any creative journey. I began doing the prints as a means between collections, offering an opportunity to still be creative even when it’s not directly to fashion.
That’s a great idea man. I wish more companies would ‘spread their wings’ a little bit. Seeing brands follow the same structure is getting a little boring now to be honest, so it’s refreshing to see someone creating their own path. Where do you draw inspiration from for a new clothing range?
Random stuff mostly. For instance, the first few shirts I produced were based around the French revolution. I carried that theme into multiple products like the crown/hat with the 1789 date, starting the revolution by the Third Estate. The Crepe Vie Capsule collection was inspired by Talladega Nights. I am a fan of bicycles so I translated that into the tricycle used on the Champonnait Tee. Some of our Fall pieces are relating to a Drake statement and our winter collection to the Roland Garros. Everything has a French connection though, even some of the prints.
Wow, so all over the place really. Over the years, what has been the one single piece you have released that has been your favourite?
The Champonnait Hoodie! I sourced the fabric, designed the hood and the print. It was hand sewn by our brand manager, Shavonne and the feel of the fleece was the softest I have ever touched. It was polar fleece, so it was crazy warm. Overall my best work so far.
It sounds to me like Shavonne needs a pay rise haha! It sounds like I could use one of those over here in the UK at the moment. It’s supposed to be our summer but it rains at least 320% of the time. It’s ridiculous. Are there any brands in which you would like to collaborate with in the future? Or anyone you would like to model for Troisieme?
I’d like to get my stuff on Donald Glover and Mark Wahlberg. Brands I admire and would love to work with are Aime Leon, BWGH, VISVIM, KITH, Haerfest etc! Those are amazing brands that produce quality products.
I haven’t heard of a couple of those brands so I’ll have to check them out. What are your main goals to accomplish with the brand?
I’d like to become a staple in the industry. Period. I want to be a traditional brand, not trendy. I want to Develop the brand to a point of international brand recognition.
I’d like to see that for you too man. You seem to have a great head on your shoulders so persevere and you will get there. What is the best piece of advice you have been given, and what is the best piece you can give?
“Don’t stop!”. There is no better advice out there. If it is something you want and you can see the goal, don’t stop! There were times in the past and times in the future that will test you. If it gets too tough, change your approach but don’t quit. If you quit, then you wasted your time and you can never get time back... Relatively speaking.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself! It’s sad when you see people give up at the first hurdle because things seem to hard to overcome. We’re coming towards the end now so just a couple of questions left. Where do you hope to be in 12 months time?
Attending more trade shows and hiring employees. Expanding the brand is the main focus and these things will create that. Maximising the quality at our price point is essential. The collections over the next few months will be more elaborate while building the brand recognition.
More importantly, what can we hope to see in the next month or two?
In the next three months we will release our fall collection. Look out for HaB!
I can’t wait to see it dude. I’m really impressed by you and the way in which you hold yourself so I’m really looking forward to seeing the brand progress. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you man.
Now we finish with five random questions.
Have you ever…
…lied about your age? Uhhh, Maybe. I never lied but I have not mentioned it to some older women and they assumed I was older.
...lost over $50 cash? Lost out of my pocket? No. Investing, yes.
...had a manicure? Nope... There are currently attempts to get me in there but I’m anti. I have a clipper. I’m good!
...given someone the wrong number on purpose? Nope... Never needed to. I’m reachable. If you see me once, you will definitely see me again. Can’t afford the bad karma the next time.
...been in a road accident? Oh yea! An epic one with my shooter. Hopefully never again. I like cars too much!
Any final words...
I’d just like to thank you for this opportunity! It was truly a pleasure expanding on these topics for the first time, providing clarity for our clients. For those of you that are new to our brand, get more familiar at www.troisieme.us and do some shopping!
Text Kiefer Horlock