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.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye