My Morning Routine

⇾ Andrew Chen, 3sixteen Founder

My Morning Routine

⇾ Andrew Chen,
3sixteen Founder

Waking up and savoring the good moments with the denim master

3sixteen Founder Andrew Chen

In fashion, there are a lot of loud, hype guys—ones that talk a big game but rarely deliver. Andrew Chen is not one of those guys. He's the real deal with a solid industry reputation to prove it. The founder of 3sixteen, Chen is one of the preeminent names in selvedge denim. Of course, these days, 3sixteen makes plenty more than just jeans. Known as a brand that sweats all the right details, they make outstanding outerwear and design their own custom denim, working with Kuroki Mills in Okayama, Japan. Chen himself is no stranger to hard work either. In addition to 3sixteen, he's also a co-owner of the bicoastal Self Edge stores. In fact, we caught up with him as he had his hands full tackling a few things all at once. “We started throwing around concepts for next spring while trying to close out preorders on the fall season and getting things in order to launch this spring,” he tells me. “It's kind of crazy to have to think about three seasons at once, but it's definitely a fun challenge ... and a good reminder to try and stay in the moment and enjoy the stuff we've already been working on for almost a year before rushing off to the next season.” Here's how the denim master starts his day.

The Series

Those moments between turning off the alarm and getting into our work routine can be the most defining 60 minutes of our day. Benjamin Franklin set a day's worth of plans by 5 am and Steve Jobs asked a simple question: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" Our rituals are a reflection of us. So we've ventured out to discover how some of our most influential and fruitful peers get started.

Andrew Chen illustration

My Routine

I’m definitely not a morning person.

But I'm usually up at 6:30 am so I can help my wife get the boys ready for school. In quarantine I became a morning person and would wake up at 5:45 to get a super early workout in, but since our routines have normalized again, I'm back to my groggy self.

I know my body.

Getting seven hours of sleep has me feeling pretty good. That means that if I'm in bed and asleep before midnight the evening before, I did well.

I am guilty of hitting the snooze button.

I use my phone as an alarm and it's just to easy to hit it. But not more than twice—I have my standard. On the weekends, I try not to set an alarm.

I do have a bad habit of checking my phone first thing in the morning.

I definitely leave longer email responses for when I get into the office, but will typically answer WhatsApp chat messages that our factories have sent overnight. I do read a few emails in the morning, but those are usually quick-hit news roundups (shout out The Daily Valet.) to start the day.

There’s a lot happening on my nightstand.

I've got my phone, watches and jewelry on there. There are a few books, and a candle from Square Trade Goods Co. Right now, I am particularly into their Stone Moss fragrance.

My wife and I split duties with the kids.

Once we're up, either my wife or I head downstairs to make lunch for the boys and get some coffee brewing, and the other will be dragging them out of bed and making sure they're getting dressed. Breakfast is on the table for the boys around 7:20, but I typically skip it or at least wait a few more hours before I eat. I'm off to drop the boys at school around 7:40, and then my day can begin.

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Good coffee is crucial to a good morning.

We always have a bag of beans in our home from Portrait Coffee in Atlanta, GA—we use a Chemex to brew it, it's my favorite method. In the summertime there's always a batch of homemade cold brew in the fridge ready to go. I drink my coffee black whether hot or iced—the only exception to this rule is if I'm at a diner, where I'll happy to indulge it with sugar and half n' half.

Breakfast is kind of all-or-nothing for me.

My all time breakfast favorite is corned beef hash and two sunny side up eggs, but you obviously can't eat that all the time. On a day to day basis, I try to skip breakfast and make it to lunch. Saturdays are our days to indulge in a big family breakfast at home, which consists of some combination of crispy fried eggs, diced potato hash, bacon or sausage, and some toasted sourdough bread—and maybe some pancakes. I love Saturday mornings.

If I don’t exercise in the morning, then it’s a total lost cause for me.

I do so many mental gymnastics where I tell myself that I can just jump into the day's tasks and carve out time in the afternoon to get a workout in, but it rarely happens. So four times a week I am at my local boxing fitness gym, which I head over to right after dropping the boys off at school. It's definitely a workout class and not a sparring gym type situation, but the trainers there are legit and I also take one-on-one classes to improve my form and technique. When the weather is warm, I'll get a run in twice a week.

I try to take time to read the Bible or pray on the way into work.

My mornings are pretty hectic, so the first bit of peace and quiet I get is the 45 minute train ride from Queens into Manhattan. I find that I can approach the day in a much more focused way when I've taken time to mediate on what is most important to me.

I just use my Google calendar as my to-do list.

I'll set deadlines throughout the day (i.e. "handle payroll at 12pm") so that I don't miss certain tasks. If it's a particularly busy day I'll just create a single appointment called "To do" and will type in everything I want to handle. Not super efficient, I suppose, but it works for me.

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I could probably use a better grooming routine, for sure.

My approach until now has been the same that I do with footwear, which is to wear stuff into the ground and take as little care of it as possible. While that might look good for a pair of Roper Boots, that's not going to fare as well for my face so I recognize the need to do better—starting with putting on some sunscreen each morning, something I never did before.

I put together a fit in the morning depending on what I’ll be doing.

If I am going to be out and about I'll keep utility in mind: extra warmth in the winter and breezy, breathable layers in the summertime. Pants are the foundation for me—I pick something out that matches how I'm feeling and then I put the rest of the fit together around the bottoms.

Andrew Chen's favorite grooming products

Clockwise, from top left

Advanced Snail Hydrogel eye patch,
$28 by COSRX

Underhill natural deodorant,
$15 by Misc. Goods Co.

Sonicare Expert Clean toothbrush,
$169.99 by Philips

Firme pomade,
$12.84 by Suavecito

Founders blend,
$15 by Portrait Coffee

Tacit Eau de Parfum,
$130 by Aesop

Stone Moss candle,
$28 by Square Trade Goods Co.

Daily multivitamins,
$24.90 by Kirkland Signature

Digestive Advantage probiotic gummies,
$28 by Schiff

ProNamel Gentle Whitening toothpaste,
$8.19 by Sensodyne

Resurrection hand balm,
$31 by Aesop

Andrew Chen's favorite grooming products

Advanced Snail Hydrogel
eye patch, $28
by COSRX

Underhill natural deodorant,
$15 by Misc. Goods Co.

Firme pomade,
$12.84 by Suavecito

Tacit
Eau de Parfum,
$130 by Aesop

Sonicare Expert Clean
toothbrush, $169.99
by Philips

ProNamel Gentle
Whitening toothpaste,
$8.19 by Sensodyne

Daily
multivitamins,
$24.90 by
Kirkland Signature

Digestive Advantage
probiotic gummies,
$28 by Schiff

Stone Moss
candle, $28 by
Square Trade Goods Co.

Founders blend,
$15 by Portrait Coffee

Resurrection hand balm,
$31 by Aesop

Clockwise, from top left

Advanced Snail Hydrogel eye patch,
$28 by COSRX

Underhill natural deodorant,
$15 by Misc. Goods Co.

Firme pomade,
$12.84 by Suavecito

Tacit Eau de Parfum,
$130 by Aesop

ProNamel Gentle Whitening toothpaste,
$8.19 by Sensodyne

Sonicare Expert Clean toothbrush,
$169.99 by Philips

Daily multivitamins,
$24.90 by Kirkland Signature

Digestive Advantage probiotic gummies,
$28 by Schiff

Stone Moss candle,
$28 by Square Trade Goods Co.

Founders blend,
$15 by Portrait Coffee

Resurrection hand balm,
$31 by Aesop

I put together a fit in the morning depending on what I’ll be doing.

If I am going to be out and about I'll keep utility in mind: extra warmth in the winter and breezy, breathable layers in the summertime. Pants are the foundation for me—I pick something out that matches how I'm feeling and then I put the rest of the fit together around the bottoms.

Never leave
home without ...

Never leave home without ...

My Good Art sterling silver bracelet. My wrist feels naked without it.

Model 10 “A” bracelet, $1,635 by Good Art

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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