In Discussion With: Pedro Andrade
3x1 is a brand defined just as much by our unparalleled commitment to making the finest jeans in the world, one pair at a time, as we are by the community of people who wear them. Who are these people? They are our friends, collaborators, and partners. They are inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, and teachers... It is here, within the Atelier Journal series "In Discussion With...," that we highlight who these people are and the tether that ties them together which ultimately is authenticity, passion and an appreciation for the best of what life has to offer - and, of course, their collective love of jeans by 3x1. We hope you enjoy their stories.
Traveler, surfer, journalist, television host, model, political activist, Brazilian, polyglot, author, co-anchor — it’s impossible to pigeon hole Pedro Andrade into one category. He was ‘discovered’ by Mario Testino, has been called the Anthony Bourdain of Latin America, and holds an engaged Instagram audience of almost half a million. You could say he’s a big deal but he’d probably wince at the notion because he also happens to be refreshingly down to earth, slightly self-deprecating (the best ones are), and has a solid grasp on the issues that matter most.
We catch up with Andrade at a coffee shop in the Meatpacking District where he currently lives. It’s a sunny spring morning and he’s wearing a simple tee, 3x1 jeans, and a pair of white leather sneakers. “I never thought I’d be a model,” he says smiling. “I wasn’t the hunk in school, I was super hunchback and had coke-bottle glasses. I did surf, though, and one day when I was leaving the beach Mario Testino and agent Sergio Mattos [who also discovered Gisele Bundchen] stopped me and asked if I’d ever considered modeling.” He jokes that he looked around for the cameras — surely he was being punked. But punked he was not and this chance encounter launched his modeling career and life outside of Brazil.
Andrade arrived in New York almost 20 years ago and lived the archetypal new-in-town lifestyle that many of us in our early twenties do. “I didn’t know anybody. I bartended in my underwear in some of the dirtiest bars, I lived in a studio the size of this table with no bathroom, I dog walked, bus boy’ ed, coat checked — and I loved it. I loved New York.” [editor’s note: it was a super small table]
Despite his successful transition from journalism school in Rio to a modeling career in New York, he’d only scratched the surface of his passions. “I’ve always known what I’m good at and bad at and I was a disaster with physics and math but I enjoyed geography, history, and English.” This combined with inspiration drawn from his grandmother, who he credits as the source behind is love for travel, paved his vocational path. “She was without a doubt the biggest influence in my life,” he says. “She was born in a small town in the north of Brazil, was really poor, but also the first woman to work in the Senate. All the money she made she invested in trips with my grandfather so that nomad sort of spirit always stuck with me.”
Andrade’s first gig in journalism was as a correspondent on NBC’s First Look, which aired right after Saturday Night Live. He was there for four years and during his tenure was brought on as a guest for a program called Manhattan Connection, which is the largest journalistic show in Brazil that covers everything from the Oscars to the foreign policy of the Gaza Strip to the elections in Iran to Trump. “It’s a panel of very accomplished individuals,” he says. “There’s a person who’s won a Pulitzer, the other is a former politician, another is a leader of the opposition.” The hosts and viewers enjoyed his company so much they offered him a permanent seat on the panel and eventually he took them up on it.
Over the years he’s also worked as a correspondent for an NBC morning show and even covered the World Cup for Good Morning America in Miami. When he returned to New York he pitched a show to Brazil’s Globo, the largest broadcast network in Latin America. Andrade explains that they’ve monopolized the television there and thus aim to appeal to a broader audience. “Just to give you an idea of how large the audience is,” he begins, “When Oprah interviewed Michael Jackson about the whole scandal she had 6.5 million viewers. Manhattan Connection has an average of 9.5 million viewers per episode.” In other words, the fact that he even has a show, let alone a successful one, is a flashy feat.
Pedro Pelo Mundo is in its fifth season and follows Andrade around the world as he visits places going through a transformation. “Whether it’s climate change, political change in Cuba after the embargo, Myanmar after the dictatorship, Egypt after the Arab Spring, or Brooklyn with gentrification or Seattle, the fastest growing city in America.”
“What Pedro Pelo Mundo doesn’t do is show you the best guacamole in Mexico or the most delicious pizza in Italy." Though food and drink have a place on the program, Andrade insists that it’s about the people and where they live. “I see so many divided places and for so many different reasons,” he explains. “I don’t want to say I always sympathize with the victim but I really believe in human rights. I’m Brazilian, I’m Hispanic — there are so many things I identify as at the same time — so I don’t like to place these individuals as victims, I try to humanize them with their stories.” On the show he’s explored everything from having a drink with a transgender person in Saudi Arabia, visiting a street fair with a leader of the LGBTQ community in St Petersburg, to interviewing refugees from Syria in Lebanon. This conversational approach is at the core of his method to modern journalism.
“That’s not a tough question it’s a great question,” he says in response to our curiosity about the future of the industry. “We all grew up watching a different more professorial journalism. Globalization and social media shower us with information and its humanized the industry.” Traditional print newspapers are considered the least popular platform for news consumption, according to a recent Pew research. “I always say that globalization isn’t a choice anymore, it’s a wave. Either you surf the wave or you’re gonna drown,” he says. “I feel like journalism is moving toward social media and I know we have a tendency to look down on those things but we’re all resistant to change and transformation at first.”
Speaking of social media, as of June 2019 when this article is being published, he’s got a whopping 473k followers. “For the most part it doesn’t stress me out,” he laughs. “I enjoy the dialogue. That’s another thing I think that’s changed with journalism —people are more accessible.” He stays grounded by keeping it real and not overthinking criticisms or accolades he receives on the platform. “I grew up with the belief that everyone can think the acrobat can fly but the moment he believes he can fly he falls. Everything must be taken with a grain of salt.”
He also attributes Instagram as an opportunity to de-mystify and humanize yourself to an audience. “My social media is very much about honesty. I show people that I’m just as mesmerized with the churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia or as impressed by the temples of Bagan or as disappointed by the street food in Singapore — I can say something tastes like shit or say this place is tacky because I have the freedom to. The show’s not getting paid to be anywhere so it’s all about honesty.”
Another thing Andrade is honest about is his taste in fashion. “You would not guess I worked in the fashion industry. To be honest, I’d love to be more stylish [laughs] but I’m a very practical guy.” He’s a denim wearer and for the best possible reason. “Denim is the most democratic item. On my show I’ll interview world leaders like the King of Bali and also taxi drives and drug dealers and beauty queens and having the right pair of jeans is adequate for all scenarios.”
We finish up our coffees and close on a thought that is at the root of the 3x1 ethos: what does ‘Made Here’ mean to you? For us, it’s a reference to making jeans here in our shop in Soho. But, in a larger context, Made Here is also a reference to being American and as such, making things here in the USA. This is our home, and the sense of pride we have in what we do, how we do it, and where we do it.
"Doing what I do I see more than most people, the value of truths, tradition, and localness,” Andrade reflects. “I always say the goal is for people and places and brands and all of us to reinvent ourselves without losing our identity and without losing our DNA and a way of doing that is by consuming things that are local and ‘Made here.’
Words by Nicole Kliest @nickliest
Photos by Elena Mudd @elenam