“Made in the U.S.A. must evolve or die. We choose evolve.” This is the mantra of San Francisco-based apparel company American Giant, a U.S.-made brand that seeks to reignite Stateside manufacturing. The company revealed today its first pair of jeans, which aligns well with consumers’ growing interest in the long-loved material. Its men’s-only jean is available in one wash and one style, exclusively.
Growing interest in the category is proven by the numbers: By 2021, the global jeans market is poised to generate $130 billion in retail sales, according to data from Statista. And the global premium denim market is anticipated to experience compounded annual growth of 8.4 percent between 2017 through 2021, according to Technavio.
American Giant was founded in 2012 when it introduced a men’s-only hoodie sweatshirt as its first product — it took nearly two years to reverse engineer the fleece to meet the company’s standards and simultaneously build an entire supply chain to support the creation of a single item. For its denim, the company is working with South Carolina-based Mt. Vernon Mills, sourcing fabric from its facility in Georgia and constructing each pair of jeans at New Fashion Products in Los Angeles.
Bayard Winthrop, president and founder of American Giant, told WWD, “I grew up in the Seventies, surrounded by all these amazing iconic American brands like Levi’s, Wrangler, Woolrich and Redwing, and feeling like the apparel industry, specifically, had really kind of lost its way from a great American values standpoint.” When Winthrop founded the company, his interests centered around reimagining American basics. “I was really interested in both fleece and blue jeans, and felt that those two categories were really iconically American,” Winthrop explained. “We ended really focusing on fleece in the beginning, but jeans have always been heavy on my mind since the founding of the business.”
And similar to sweatshirts, denim is a competitive and saturated market. “The sweatshirt category was a packed category,” he said. “And yet, I basically felt that all of the product was getting it wrong. In the blue jean category specifically, the experience of trying to find a pair of jeans that you love is like launching a space shuttle. I mean, it is this incredibly complicated [mix] of washes, and rises and cuts that led me to — from a shopping experience — feel confused, and [as a result, buy] seven or eight styles to find the one that I want.”
According to Bayard, the perfect pair of jeans is contingent upon “[attending] to the basics really well”: fit, fabric and a great needle. “Almost all of American fashion can tether itself back to work, street, art and music and these very democratic pursuits that were very basic in some ways, that took on their styling for the people that were wearing them. And I think that jeans were the ultimate version of that and yet it had become, over the last 40 years, this incredibly complicated, not particularly democratic style.” As as a result, American Giant’s “maritime wash” jean is the epitome of minimalism: clean, casual and simplistic. “This particular denim is a phenomenal fabric,” Winthrop noted.
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