Second/Layer

by Daphne Lear

The Freedom To Be Exact
Two brothers and a best friend comprise one of the finest fashion labels to come out of Los Angeles in recent years. The brand is Second/Layer. Unassuming yet resounding, their design takes on classic and historically cultural cuts and modernizes them with precise tailoring and refined fabrics. The trifecta: Ant Franco, Jacob Willis, and Joshua Willis, answered a few questions and made some lists for your reading pleasure.

Tell us how Second/Layer started and why: Our background is visual communication, design, creative direction, and finance. Our first collaboration was through our creative agency with clients such as Atelier NYC, Nike, and Smashbox. The dialogue of Second/Layer developed while Ant was living in Paris, and became an excuse to get him back to L.A. We developed a small capsule collection, which caught the attention of Details magazine. The result was an invitation to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Lincoln Center and now we’re three seasons in.

How did you all initially meet and become friends? Jake and Joshua are brothers and Ant came in when a mutual mentor, Tak Kato, introduced us. Our personal and professional strengths complement each other and share a sensibility rooted from where we grew up and who we look up to.

What kind of materials and fabrics are you using? Our selection of materials is based on the comfort, freedom, and flexibility of daily wear, while maintaining a gender-neutral tailored uniformity. Our Japanese mill has been around since 1910 and specializes in one-of-a-kind wool, cashmere, and silk fabrics. We are interested in elegant simplicity. Our elevated essentials use wool/cashmere yarn, wrinkle-free structured fabrics, and merino wool jersey and soft hand fleece. Fabric origins: Japan, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, and U.S.A.

Where are your pieces manufactured? Made in U.S.A.

You’re now part of the Forbes list of 30 under 30 in Art & Style. How does it feel to be listed? Blessed.

How would you define your style and aesthetic? Chicano/minimal. In the exploration of our gender-neutral aesthetic, we noticed a connection between the ‘garcon,’ or boyish look, for women through the mid-80s, and the Pachuco movement of the ’40s and ’50s in Mexican-American neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles and El Paso. The connection played a huge roll in our personal styles.

Some say that you fall under the “goth-skate” look of Los Angeles and that it’s part of a trend specific to L.A. Do you agree or disagree? Please explain. Ricky-o layered out, droopy, doopy, extra-long transparent T-shirts, bulky sneakers, and tattooed goth-skate?! We grew up skateboarding yes. But our personal style borrows from Pachuco culture. Full proportion billowed silhouettes, gabardines, clean, crisp lines, shirt/jacket outer layers, Vans authentic low, and hopefully more timeless. We’ve also introduced footwear to the collection, which is made in Italy. We disagree.

A list of music you listen to, if you do, when you design: 100s, Drake, Pimp C, 2 Pac, Hova, Midland, Atish and Mark Slee, New Look, Blood Orange, Hunter/Game, Tanner Ross, Tiger & Woods, No Regular Play, Mario Basanov, H.O.S.H., Defected Records, Scott Walker, Alva Noto, and Turquoise Days.

A list of food you would like at your funeral spread: Chile verde Asada Micheladas

A list of favorite places to skate: Henry Levy’s fifth floor loft space mini ramp on 6th and Mill.

A list of challenges to being a fashion designer in Los Angeles: L.A. has the worst fabric suppliers of all time.

A list of benefits to being a fashion designer in Los Angeles: 360˚ beautiful weather Downtown studio Skate accessibility

A small list of stockists: Isetan H. Lorenzo FORWARD by Elyse Walker

A list of inspirational artists or designers:

Giorgio Armani 1989-’94 campaigns—our biggest inspiration 80’s Issey Miyake—textures, prints, colors, and use of volume Yohji Yamamoto—sculptural oversized clothing, textures, and use of fabrics Rei Kawakubo—poetic juxtapositions and creative spontaneity Jil Sander—beautiful simplicity Martin Margiela—branding Photographers: Paolo Roversi, Peter Lindbergh, Ray Petri