Archive for the 'Favorite US Store' Category

28
Oct
16

Guideboat Shopping

Guideboat is a company in Mill Valley, California. It is an eclectic mix of boats, (yes, boats) equipment and well-made upper end clothing. Much of their clothing is made in the USA or Europe.

Source: Guideboat

Below are some of my favorite from this season’s catalog. All of the below are Made in the USA.

Rock and Raven Hacking Jacket

Rock and Raven Hacking Jacket

Goat Suede Shirt

Goat Suede Shirt

Frank and Eileen Shirting

Frank and Eileen Shirting

Red Wing Clara Lace up Shoes

Red Wing Clara Lace up Shoes

St. Regis Wool Jacket

St. Regis Wool Camp Jacket

Sailboat Selvage 5 pocket pants

Sailboat Selvage 5 pocket pants

Thompson Twill Jacket

Thompson Twill Jacket

Flannel Lined Pants

Flannel Lined Pants

Union Suit Redux

Union Suit Redux

 

13
Jul
12

Favorite U.S. Store #9 – New Balance Outlet

Believe It! There are tennis shoes made in the USA (by New Balance). I have, therefore, named New Balance  as one of my favorite stores because they produce one thing that no other shoe company does in the United States..and that is produce athletic shoes that are manufactured in the United States. Although their U.S. total production is 25% of their total, they still fulfill a giant niche. I had known they produced many great running shoes, and I had previously seen some of their walking and training shoes being made in the US. But not until now did I find out that they made tennis shoes. The model # MC656WN.

New Balance Tennis Shoes
Made in the USA

The New Balance Story

New Balance was created in 1906 by an Englishman, William Riley in Boston, Massachusetts. It was originally called New Balance Arch Support Company. Riley was inspired by a chicken foot, its three toed foot helped the chicken keep perfect balance. From this, he developed the flexible arch support. His purpose was to relieve laborer’s foot pain and help them stay on their feet.

The First Towards Innovation

New Balance developed the first running shoe in 1938. In 1941, NB customized baseball shoes for the Boston Braves. NB was the first shoe company to offer shoes in different widths in 1960.

Major Change

In 1972, entrepreneur, Jim Davis, bought the company, just before the start of the Boston Marathon. At that time, New Balance was a very small company. It employed 6 people and made only 30 pair of shoes per day. Davis greatly enhanced New Balance through design improvements in the shoes, improving production and advertising. NB shoes have always been considered top of the line in performance, stability, comfort and prevention of injuries. Soon, New Balance became one of the leading running shoe manufacturers in the world.

Other Innovations

1995, New Balance introduces the first cross training shoe. Two years later, NB develops the first walking shoe. During the 1990’s there was a great outsourcing of shoe manufacturers, however, New Balance, continued to manufacture in the United States. NB continues to produce footwear for all 5 branches of the Armed Services. Customization: If you would like to customize your shoes through New Balance, you can choose your colors, mix and match as well as embroideries.

Today

New Balance is still headquartered in Boston, (actually, Brighton) Massachusetts. It employs 5,000 U.S. workers. It operates five factories: Boston, MA; Lawrence, MA; Norridgewock, Maine; Norway, Maine; and Skowhegan, Maine. Plus, it has a factory in Flimby, England which manufactures about 30% of its shoes to the European market. New Balance does have factories in China, Vietnam and Taiwan as well.

New Balance, also, makes apparel (socks, running shirts, running shorts), probably <2% is made in the US. NB also owns: Aravon, Brine, Cobb Hill, Dunham, PF Flyers, and Warrior Shoes. I do not believe any of these brands are made in the USA, however.

Hats off to Rob Demartini, CEO, and New Balance for continuing to make athletic shoes in the United States. Look for the American flag displayed on the shoe box. Unlike certain clothing chains, “Made in USA” New Balance shoes can be found at the outlets.

Editorial

If you believe in the Made in the USA movement, as you visit the store, ask if the article was made in the US, and request that they add more US made items. Better yet, write to their corporate office. With enough response, corporate will tell their buyers to look for more US made items at the trade shows, which means more selection for the consumers, and more jobs for Americans to make these items. You don’t need an Economics specialist to tell you this – that this movement will strengthen our three decades of outsourcing and seriously injured economy.

(I have a problem with Economists in general – first, they are not scientists; Second, they do not deal with logic. Third, they love certain mathematical formulas which don’t mean anything. Fourth, they only like to talk within themselves and many times corrupt data when it doesn’t meet their theory – they can do this, because they are not scientists and do not follow a scientific code of ethics. In sum, economists are practicing a type of religion and they want to convert you – so far they have done a pretty good job. How many economists think that bringing back jobs to the US will help the economy of the US? Sadly, not that many. It’s because they love outsourcing, they love that China is doing so well, they love that the Chinese government is greatly helping out the private and public sector, but at the same time do not want the same thing (government help) for the United States. Is it a conspiracy? Or is it they think the “World is flat”. I think it is the latter. “Outsourcing floats all boats” is their “World is flat”.)

03
Feb
12

Favorite U.S. Store # 7 – Rag and Bone

rag & bone Official Store. Looking for clothing made in the USA? Try Rag & Bone. Rag & Bone is another one of those improbable success stories, and another place that manufactures and sells clothing made in the USA. Their first stores, which opened in 2008 is in the West Village of New York City, a couple of blocks west of Greenwich Village. The store at 100 Christopher Street (The Mens Store) and 104 Christopher Street (The Womens Store) are situated in this well preserved block of historic brick houses and buildings from the 1800s. When you walk into the store, there is an ambiance of quaintness and “rustique” – back to a time when things were less rushed and less complex. The stores are of modest size, caertainly when you compare them to present day superstores. All of these elements add to the shopping experience. The Mens store carries suits, pants, shoes, belts and accessories. The Womens store carries tops, blouse, dresses and accessories as well. In regards to the percentage of US Made, I would say about 60% is US made in the Men’s store, and 30% in the Women’s store.

The Style of Rag & Bone

Rag & Bone’s niche: “Affordable apparel, but with a high-end designer point of view.” Their clothes are made to last. Quality before fashion. The clothes are made to stay in your closet for 10 to 20 years from now. They have a talent for taking that which is timeless and making it cool. I purchased a pair of brown pants – the kind of brown color you do not see in modern day pants, but more like in the 1800s, they tailored the length for me and shipped them to my home address (no sales tax in New York, if they have no store near you) and now they are my favorite pants. They are casual (with the button up fly) yet not jeans, and very comfortable. It is kind of the “Noveau Retro” look that has been so popular the past few years (some would say they are reinterpreting the classics.) Many of their shirts or blazers have a special je ne sais qua: unique buttons on them manufactured from companies that have made buttons since 1812, such as Waterbury Button; or special trimmings or trim which may them great for layering.

Stores

Rag & Bone have the two stores in West Village as I mentioned above, but also in SOHO, 119 Mercer Street (both Men & Women’s Store). There are two other women’s store in New York – the upper West Side at 182 Columbus Avenue and, also, 73 E. Houston Street in Houston, New York City. They have now expanded outside of the Big Apple to Washington D.C. and the most recently opened store is located in Tokyo, Japan. Rag & Bone clothing can also be found in many of your upper end department stores: Barneys, Bergdorf- Goodman, Bloomingdales, Nieman-Marcus and Nordstroms. Just don’t expect to see tons of their clothes, as quality is still important, unlike many very rich designers that have moved all their mass produced clothing to slave shop factories. (Who needs a conscience when you got money?) (I know the rebuttal to that: you can’t blame the designer and their MultiNational corporations, blame the people who buy them. Yes, both are at fault, although I am hoping that more clothing will be manufactured here and people will stop buying items made from slave labor.)

The Story of Rag & Bone

First, Rag & Bone is an English term meaning junk or waste, like in a junkyard. So, from that clue, you can assume the owners of Rag & Bone are English, and you would be absolutely correct for $200, Alex. The co-founders, David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, first met at a Boarding school in Berkshire, but did not become fast friends until during a gap year, where they both worked at a bar in Portugal. During one of their more productive conversations, they lamented that they could not find any decent denim, and it was from this void that they decided that they were going into the business of making denim that would appease their tastes and sensibilities. (It is kind of like Tom Ford, who couldn’t find suits that would fit him correctly, so he decided to make suits for himself and voila, fashion-designer genius). The first and most immediate problem was that neither had any experience in making, designing or selling clothes. No problem – they went to the U.S. to learn the craft themselves. They visited Kentucky Apparel (now closed) to learn how they manufactured first line jeans. The next step was to move to New York City and start Rag and Bone, that was in 2002. At first, the clothing was only for men and it was denim. Then, at the urging of their wives, they started making a women’s clothing line as well. After a while, denim took a back seat to other materials. They became more and more successful, they: opened their first store in 2008; now have their own model runway shows; have hired some of the top models to display some of their wares; opened up additional stores, including Tokyo; have their designs appearing in multiple fashion magazines; and have even appeared on the Jimmy Fallon show.

Philosophy

From main designer Marcus Wainwright; “Rag & Bone is a function of our English upbringing, wearing uniforms at school and my dad’s handed – down tailor – made suits. This is coupled with where we started making clothes, which was in very old American workwear factories. The source of the aesthetic is English tailoring meets military and workwear.”

Give Rag & Bone a peek, better yet visit the store on 100 Christopher Street in the West Village in New York City to get the full effect.

“I love things that age well – things that don’t date, that stand the test of time and that become living examples of the absolute best.” – Giorgio Armani

08
Jan
12

Favorite U.S. Stores #6 – Freemans Sporting Club

Freemans Sporting Club — Welcome. Freemans Sporting Club (F.S.C.) is a very unique shopping experience, specializing in retro appearing Men’s clothing manufactured entirely in New York. I have just come back from visiting their newest store in San Francisco at 696 Valenica Street in the Mission District. They have been open for only seven months. Because I had visited their other two stores in New York City in November, 2011 (that’s right, last year), it is only acceptable that I compare them with each other. But before I do that, I would like to give some background on Freemans Sporting Club.

The Origin

Taavo Somer is the co-owner of Freemans Sporting Club. He was trained as an architect, who turned into an artist and restauranteer. He first opened the bar, The Rusty Knot, which was a big hit, followed by Freemans (a restaurant – located at the end of freeman’s Alley, near Rivington Street) known for its rustic charm and taxidermy of animal heads upon the walls. Mr. Somer did the taxidermy himself. Since that time he has opened two more restaurant Peels and his newest, Isa, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in August, 2011. Freemans Sporting Club came about as a continuation of the hip retro look that Freemans had instilled, rustic and masculine. The clothing store is located just down the street from Freemans (restaurant) at 8 Rivington Street. It opened in 2006, and in the back of the store is a very thriving Barber shop (just like the old dry goods stores might have done in the late 1800s and early 1900s). The second store is located on 321 Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village (sorry, no barber shop).

The Newest Store Located in San Francisco

Store #3 has very easy access from highway 101, just take exit 434A at Duboce Ave, make a left on Valencia, and go down about a half mile to 696 Valencia Street. It is at the corner of Valencia and 18th Street. When you first see it, you will not recognize it as a Men’s Clothing Store. In fact, it used to be a pet store. On the outside of the building, is “F.S.C. Barbers”, that is the place. When you walk in, you are walking into a barber shop, which is fairly busy, but unlike FSC #1, where the barbershop is in back of the shop, here you walk through the barbershop to get to the clothing shop. The clothing shop is smaller than the other two stores. It is flanked by two friendly salespeople. Because the shop is so small (like the other FSC’s), that if the size you wear is not there, they may have it in storage. Their style of clothing is definitely retro but still quite stylish. The have Sports Coats, dress pants, flannel shirts, casual long sleeve shirts, Henley shirts and several plain T-shirts. They have some coats as well that are made of a heavy fabric which feels a lot like canvas. You can click the link on top of this blog entry to see exactly what they carry. The dressing room is also quirky. There is only one. On one side of the shop, which probably takes up one tenth of the entire clothes store, is a large recess that becomes a dressing room when this extremely large and heavy canvas tarp slides across to stop prying eyes. (The San Francisco store closed in 2015.)

The clothes are all American made. They are expensive and do deserve special care. They should last for quite a long time. My final tally was: a checkered red and black flannel shirt; a beige short sleeve Henley shirt; and a dark charcoal gray long sleeve casual shirt. It is definitely worth a look.

If you are interested in more information about the co-owner Taavo Somer, tomorrow I will publish a reprint of an article by New York magazine regarding Mr. Somer, which was originally published in May, 2008.

“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.” – Coco Chanel

12
Dec
11

Favorite U.S. Stores #5 – Levi’s in San Francisco

Mainpoint – Levi Strauss, legendary clothing maker is making clothing made in U.S.A. again, finding it is more difficult. You need to go to the Corporate store in San Francisco.

I can not think of anything more American than blue jeans, when it comes to clothing. And when you think of blue jeans, there is no bigger name than Levi Strauss. They had been the leading maker of jeans for over a century, and are based in San Francisco. But then a some years back, Levi’s like everybody else started making their jeans elsewhere. It was up until very recently, that I had given up completely on Levi’s as a maker of U.S. made jeans. But, on March 2011, Levi’s put out a news blurb that they were going to start making jeans again “Made in the U.S.A.” (in a limited quantity). So, I searched and searched to find them.  All the Levi’s outlets didn’t have them and most salespeople had never even heard about them. On one trip, I went to the Levi’s store in the Valley Fair Mall in San Jose, CA  and the manager said they had one pair that was returned to them, but they did not sell them in the store. But, then she gave me some wonderful information: the corporate store in San Francisco sells the American made jeans!

The Corporate Store

So, I went to the corporate store at 1155 Battery Street, in San Francisco. It is right off the Embarcadero (a famous street in S.F.) and only a half mile from Fisherman’s Wharf, a famous tourist attraction. But before I could go shopping, I had to go to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, because it was Dungeness Crab season, which had just started two weeks ago. Within Fisherman’s Wharf, there is a slew of good restaurants anxiously ready to serve you fresh Dungeness Crab. I enjoyed a great lunch and then made my way to the corporate headquarters. The corporate headquarters is part of Levi’s Plaza. The plaza (or park/plaza) is a couple of blocks consisting of large buildings connected by brick walkways and a small park (a downtown oasis) across the street (looking towards the ocean), and on the other side, one can see stairs traversing a very steep and impressive hill that leads to Coit Tower (a SF landmark and a name that the French people just love). The Levi building is an impressive looking building about seven stories high, constructed with brick and glass with aggressive newer architecture seen in the 1990’s. As I entered the building, there were streams of people going into this glass building and going up the elevators to their respective offices, it was only because they all had to go through a security checkpoint that I decided that this was not the way to the store. I asked at the receptionist desk where the store was and they pointed me to a large glass cubicle inside a larger glass cubicle. This was the store.

The corporate store is a much smaller store than most outlets. It can be very busy on the weekends and it is kind of slow during mid-week. As I walked in, I was met almost immediately by a salesperson who asked if he could help me. I said that I was looking for American clothes. And not only did he know what I was talking about, he was able to show me a couple of styles of American made jeans for men and for women. Surprisingly, Levi’s sells denim jackets, made in U.S.A. The salesperson, also, showed me belts made by Tanner. One further surprise was some Outdoor wear – a joint effort between Filson and Levi’s. Furthermore, they carried a couple of boots, American made by Al’s Attires (fairly pricey – about the price of Wolverine 1000 mile boots). Another bit of information I learned is ‘Dockers’ is owned by Levi’s. There were some Dockers in the store and almost all of the Dockers are imported, except for a limited edition of a special T-shirt – made in the U.S. The salespeople were excellent. They were professional, yet friendly and quite knowledgeable (more knowledgeable than myself, I didn’t even know that ‘knowledgeable’ had an ‘e’ before ‘able’, thanks spellczech).

Shopping Spree

I put a sizable dent in my credit on this trip to Levi’s. The final tally: my wife found a two pair of jeans; I bought a pair of  “505” jeans, classic, straight leg jeans, I passed on the skinny jeans: and I purchased a denim jacket. I had not owned a denim jacket since high school in the late 1970’s, it seems like almost everything comes back in style if you wait long enough. These American jeans are manufactured in the very traditional denim. There are stiff, never been washed or broken in. The salesperson’s advice to break them in: wear the jeans for 6 months before washing them. When you wash them,  cold water, inside out, and hang them to dry, or dry clean them. The full retail price of the made in USA 505 jeans is $178, which is about $20 more than their good imported Levi’s jeans. However, on this day, there were giving $25 off any purchase over $150. So, I felt better, because it was a sale.

The Future of Levi’s

I asked about the success of the U.S. made Levi’s and the salesperson said that the items have been flying off the shelves. Noting their success, Levi’s has plans of making even more U.S. made products for 2012. That does seem to be the new trend, retro type clothing made in America, made by famous makers such as Levi’s, Ralph Lauren and Eddie Bauer.

“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed and non chalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes.” – Yves Saint Laurent

09
Nov
11

Favorite US Stores #4 – Oxxford Clothes

Oxxford Clothes. This is the link to Oxxford Clothes.

Oxxford clothes spelled with 2 xx’s has been around since 1916. Originally started in 1916 in Chicago. They used to make suits for Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Joe Dimaggio. They hand make all their suits – you may want to watch the video to see the painstaking way they make your custom fit suit. There is only one remaining Oxxford clothes store remaining. It is located in Manhattan – the address is 717 Fifth Ave, but the entrance is on 56th Street between 5th and Madison. Everything is made in the United States. This is like going into the past except the store itself is quite modern looking as are the clothes. I am sure if you wanted a Retro or Classic look they could design the suit just for you. Oxxford clothes does send some of its clothes to one place and one place only – Wilkes – Bashford at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, CA.

30
Sep
11

Favorite US Store #2 Michael Stars

About Us | Michael Stars.

Main point: Michael Stars makes clothing made in USA, medium priced, good quality, 80% of tops made in USA.

Who would have thought that Walnut Creek, CA would be the American made clothing mecca in Northern California? There are four stores within 200 feet of each other that have a higher percentage of clothing made in the USA than the usual (around 2%).  Second place would be in San Jose – the area from Santana Row and the Valley Fair Mall (Hlaska, 100% American, Blue Jean Bar and American Apparel, 100% American). In Walnut Creek, the first store is Nordstrom’s with maybe the best American made selection of all the Nordstrom’s in Northern California. They have a great selection of Alan Edmunds American made shoes. There is nearly an entire table of young adult made in USA T-shirts. There are other young adult shirts made in America. I did find one very interesting thing – an American made leather coat – made by Remy. The only reason I was at Nordstrom’s was for investigating, but when I came across that jacket I had to buy it, breaking my budget for the month. But I should be happy with it for many years to come. With regards to dress shirts, I was slightly disappointed, no American made shirts, just a few choices of Italian made shirts and slacks.

The second store was 7 for All Mankind. “7” is known for premium jeans made in the USA. The company started in Los Angeles in 2000 and sends its jeans to many of the upscale retail department stores. But they have recently started their own stores, they are in almost every major city now as well as in Europe. In visiting the store, it was actually fairly small. Jeans were about 70% of all the clothes in the store. Most of the jeans were American made. All the tops were foreign made.

The third store was True Religion. Like 7 for All Mankind, True Religion is also noted for making premium jeans made in the USA. They have many jeans in the upscale retail department stores and have their own stores in all the major cities in the US. It is a small store with the majority of its clothing – American made jeans.

But the real reason for writing this entry is Michael Stars. Michael Stars is a medium end clothes store for ladies.  Michael Stars is based in Los Angeles. It has 12 retail outlets: Scottsdale,AZ; Corte Madera, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Manhattan Beach, CA; Newport Beach, CA; Santa Monica, CA; 1233 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, CA; Destin, FL; Atlanta, GA, Las Vegas, NV; and E. Hampton, NY. The store in Walnut Creek has a great location, facing the street and is a little small square footage-wise. The target population is 20 – 50 year olds. The tops are mostly one size fits most. I would estimate the percentage of American made tops is 80%. The shorts and jeans are all foreign made. Customer service was more than adequate.

Overall, if you are looking for a good looking ladies American made top, reasonable priced, Michael Stars is highly recommended.

“So soon as a fashion is universal, it is out of date.” – Mare von Ebnder-Eschenbech




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