The Ritz Herald
Justin Escalona at 1340 STUDIOS in Los Angeles. © Caroline Eyer

How Justin Escalona Built 1340 COLLECTIVE Out of His College Dorm


Lifestyle clothing brand envisioned by Justin Escalona

Published on February 11, 2020

If you’re a fan of streetwear clothing you cannot pass up on Justin Escalona’s 1340 COLLECTIVE. Justin created 1340 out of his college dorm room four years ago and has turned it into an empire. In just four years his company went from just an idea in his dorm to a brand valued at $5 million dollars.

What’s impressive about 1340 is that they have spent $0 on endorsements and promotion. Celebrities such as David Dobrik, Lil Xan and Justin Fields have been seen wearing their clothes. Before Justin created this company he didn’t have any prior experience in the fashion world. When we sat down to talk to him about the prior experience he told us, “Before 1340, I used to wear boat shoes and Vineyard Vines.

The transition from frat star to streetwear kingpin started to begin when Justin moved out to Los Angeles. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. We were able to sit down with Justin and ask him a few questions.

Emily Patterson: How did growing up in Chicago influence 1340?

Justin Escalona: The thing about growing up in the suburbs is that there’s a big mob mentality towards everything. It was hard to be your own individual growing up there. Everyone kind of just followed trends. If a lot of kids at school started wearing khakis and a pocket tee, everyone would start wearing khakis and a pocket tee. The sad thing is if you didn’t follow these trends people would call you weird. I never was able to experiment with my style and fashion because I never even thought to. I always just rode the wave and went with the flow. When I moved to LA, I realized that things didn’t need to be like that and I could finally be myself. Nobody judges in LA because everyone is weird in their own way. I love it here.

Q: How did you meet all of these celebrities that wear your clothes?

A: When I was growing up in the Chicagoland area, I used to be a concert photographer. It was so crazy. When I was in 8th grade, I would sneak into local concert venues and pretend to be a press photographer. I would literally just use my dad’s camera and put it around my neck. Somehow the security guards believed me and I would get backstage with these major artists. I would do this every week and really built up an insane contact list.

Q: Was working on 1340 while in college difficult?

A: There were definitely times while in college that I really wanted to just get out. I contemplated dropping out of college so many times to fully pursue 1340 head-on, but my parents never let me. Managing homework and classes while trying to scale a business was tough. The one takeaway I’m most proud of though is the fact I was able to develop such strong time management skills. Having to go to a meeting 45 minutes away for 1340, but having to be back in time to go to a class was such a grind. Thank god I don’t have to do that anymore.

Q: Do you regret going back to school?

A: I’m a big advocate of everything happens for a reason. Even though I really disliked the burden of having to go to school and get good grades, I learned a lot. In film school, I was able to get such a better understanding of storytelling and that has been crucial to my design process. With all of my clothing collections, I love to tell a story through the garments. For example, this upcoming collection has a quote on it that says “die with memories, not dreams”. This was inspired by the idea of living in the moment.

1340 COLLECTIVE Website • Instagram @1340collective @justinescalona