On his Men’s blog, A Continuous Lean, Michael Williams has compiled an authoritative list of brands that manufacture in the U.S. It’s full of heritage names such as Pendleton Woolen Mills, Woolrich Woolen Mills and J. Press, along with newer designers like Alexander Olch, Ernest Alexander and Rag & Bone.
“I don’t want to live in a country that doesn’t know how to make anything,” said Williams of his fixation on domestic manufacturing, which reflects a similar increased interest in the topic among men in general.
Williams pointed to a confluence of factors for the trend, including the recession that glaringly highlighted the loss of American manufacturing jobs here, a natural backlash to the spread of mass-produced fast fashion, heightened environmental and workplace concerns among consumers and a masculine zeitgeist that embraces a genuine interest in authentic craftsmanship.
Men are often interested in the history and functionality of garments, added Williams, which has helped drive the ongoing popularity of heritage brands. That trend parallels the uptick in interest in American manufacturing, as many heritage brands produce domestically. Further, newer brands that aim to capture the veneer of heritage are finding that producing in small quantities in the U.S. is economically and logistically sensible while appealing to the sensibilities of consumers newly conscientious of where their suits, jeans and leather goods are made.
At the most recent Project men’s show in New York in July, the centerpiece of the first floor was an installation of independent, hand-crafted product that was made in the U.S., such as Julian Boots footwear, Westbrook Maker hats and Etwas leather bags.
This Sept. 15 and 16, the next edition of Northern Grade will be held in Minneapolis, a three-year-old pop-up men’s fair dedicated solely to American-made goods. Participating brands include Red Wing Heritage, Leather Works Minnesota, Aurora Shoe Co. and Defiant Bicycles. The show has expanded this year to Chicago, which will host a Northern Grade fair on Oct. 27.
As Detroit heralds the revival of American-made automobiles, it’s not a stretch to say men’s wear is enjoying a renaissance in American-made clothes, shoes and accessories. Individualized Apparel Group, which owns 12 tailored clothing and furnishings brands and makes 95 percent of its product in the U.S., will grow sales over 25 percent this year, said chairman and president Joe Blair.
IAG owns seven factories in the U.S., which produce tailored clothing and furnishings for its brands such as Oxxford Clothes (made in Chicago), Gitman Bros. (Ashland, Pa.), Corbin (Shippensburg, Pa.) and Individualized Shirts (Perth Amboy, N.J.). The company calls its Westminster, Md. factory, which produces between 400 and 500 custom suits a day for its English American brand, the largest custom suit facility in the world.
“We do many trunk shows and we hear from consumers how important it is to them that we are made in America,” said Blair.
The biggest challenge to IAG is the high labor costs at its 100 percent unionized plants. However, Blair noted the company has been profitable for every one of the past 34 years and it plans to further invest $10 million between the next three and five years, upgrading its manufacturing capabilities.
Other tailored clothing brands that produce in the U.S. include Hickey Freeman in Rochester, N.Y., Hart Schaffner Marx in Chicago and even Germany’s Hugo Boss in Brooklyn, Ohio. The JA Apparel Corp. has made its Collection suits and sport coats in its company-owned New Bedford, Mass., factory since the Joseph Abboud brand was founded in 1986. The 350,000-square-foot facility employs 500 people and churns out 1,200 tailored jackets and 700 pants a day.
The facility also enables Joseph Abboud to operate a made-to-measure program with Nordstrom, where a salesperson using an iPad app can show a customer all the available choices of fabrics, styles and details and send an order directly to the factory, which can make the requested suit in 10 working days, between $845 and $1,300.
“To do a made-to-measure suit from Italy would take six to eight weeks,” said Anthony Sapienza, chief executive officer of JA Apparel.
“We’re always looking at ways to make things faster and more efficiently, while maintaining our level of quality,” said Sapienza, noting that while labor costs are higher than overseas, those are offset at least in part by savings on shipping costs, import tariffs, insurance and quality control.
Carhartt has manufactured in America for 120 years, and this fall has created a special label and marketing initiative to identify some of its most iconic pieces, including its classic ring-spun cotton duck jackets.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews