Archive for the 'Sweatshirts' Category

23
Apr
12

American Giant: A New Business Idea for Made in USA Clothing

SHOOT FOR INC. MAGAZINE | VERDICT PHOTOGRAPHY. The link has a 1 minute 36 second commercial on why American Giant is making clothes in the USA through the internet. American Giant makes sweatshirts in the USA.

So, why should I cover a company that sells clothes over the internet, when my mission is to help people to find clothing made in the USA at brick and mortar stores? It is not the lure of a free sweatshirt, but it did get my attention. It is because: the company is local, Headquarters in the Mission District of San Francisco and manufactured in Brisbane, CA ; and it just opened for business on February 1, 2012;  plus, their marketing department has done a great job getting their name out. In fact, I have never seen a new start-up internet clothing business with so much advertising through the internet. This may be the future of new business start-ups. (There will be a list of the internet articles at the end.)

The Name: American Giant

The phrase American Giant conjures up a lot of images, usually of large, oversized people, for some, it is that huge green man with the skimpy shorts, but, possibly, it conveys the image of the movie: “Giant” co-starring James Dean, the icon of cool. Bayard Winthrop, American Giant Founder, came up with the name and then checked to see if it was trademarked. His heart dropped when he found out it was. But he did not give up. Mr. Winthrop found out that the trademark was owned by a trademark lawyer, who had trademarked American Giant which was the title of a book he had written. He, then, called the lawyer, they started chatting and found out that the lawyer was a big fan of American made apparel. They became friends and Mr. Winthrop was granted permission to use American Giant.

The Owner

Bayard Winthrop was the former CEO of Chrome Bags. For those of you who have never heard of Chrome Bags, I will provide a little background on the company. Chrome Bags started 16 years ago when a couple of guys needed bags and found that nothing to fit their needs (it reminds me of the story of the founders of Rag & Bone and their search for jeans), so they started making bags on their own in very modest surroundings, their garage. They grew slowly at first, then moved to San Francisco and expanded their inventory to include clothes, gear and shoes. So, American Giant does have a background in clothes making.

The Philosophy of American Giant

The purpose of American Giant is to produce good quality clothing in the United States and sell them at affordable prices. They have directed their competition towards J. Crew and GAP customers. Mr. Winthrop loves the make of sweatshirts of the past: the 1960’s and 1970’s and is devoted to making clothes in this manner, which means obtaining good quality material and better manufacturing practices. To keep prices down, American Giant will be selling over the internet only. The reason is as follows.

Traditional Business Model of Clothing Stores

It was not that long ago, (and presently with a few independent clothing stores) that the clothing store owner bought clothing (traditionally it was all made in the US) at wholesale cost. These clothes were then sold to the public at a 50% mark-up. This 50% mark-up was used to cover all costs to run the business: the rent, the gas and electricity, the salaries of employees, taxes, shipping, supplies etc.  Having big sales were not very common and usually skimpy (compared to today’s sales) So, overall, there was not great profit in this business, but there was enough to make a decent living. Today, there are multiple mega-stores which buy volumes of cheap clothing. The mark-up, at these places are no longer 50%, but 300 – 2000% . That is why they can have 40% sales, or 50% sales or even 70% sales and still make money. For a small store, when a customer who is used to going to discount stores and expects 50% off, it is a difficult situation. To make a sale to this type of customer it usually involves educating the consumer – who is usually less than interested in learning anything.

New Business Plan

American Giant has combined the manufacturing of clothes with the selling of clothes. When many people discuss costs, they incorrectly assume that most of the costs are due to labor. Most authorities agree that labor makes up a small percentage of costs, about 5-10%. But, according to Bayard Winthrop, CEO of American Giant, it is the soft costs – the overhead that drives up the costs. The costs including setting up a facility, travel, transportation, executive pay as well as the costs of maintaining a brick and mortar space. Overhead is responsible for up to 600% of labor. By eliminating stores all across the country with all of their inherent costs, much of the overhead is eliminated. Therefore, American Giant has elected to do everything over the internet.

Why Some People Do Not Buy Over The Internet

There are a couple of inherent problems with selling clothes over the internet: 1)a  huge problem is that nobody knows you exist – hence, the establishment of a marketing department for American Giant, mostly through the internet; 2) a few people have no internet access, but, also, some people do not trust internet companies, as they have no address, and contact is limited, there is no actual person that you meet, contact is only through the internet or if you are lucky via phone; 3) often it is difficult to judge a piece of clothing on the internet – the color may be off, the quality may be poor, the size and fit aren’t right. To remedy this, American Giant has just opened a showroom on April 17, 2012 at 3171 21st Street, San Francisco, CA (in the Mission District – the Mission District is a growing place for trendy clothes – down the street is Freemans Sporting Club, all US made clothes, and Self Edge, mainly Japanese made clothing). In the future, may be there will be new additional showrooms.

Business Plan

American Giant has been making and selling sweatshirts since February 2012. American made sweatshirts are a difficult to come by commodity and it is a welcome addition. American Giant has just started making T-shirts. Their plan is every 6 – 8 weeks, they will bring out another line of clothing, next, I believe, will be Polo shirts. Now, this will be a very greatly appreciated as Polos made in the USA are harder to find than sweatshirts. Other basic wear is to follow. I will not post any pictures of these clothes as pictures of clothes just laying on a table are not really enticing to the buyer.

Potential Advantage

There are two advantages to manufacturing things yourself and selling via the internet besides the costs. One advantage is that, if you sell-out of an item or a size, new items can still be made and sold as long as the raw material is still available. Second, because American Giant manufactures all their clothes locally, there can be a very quick turn around (from idea to ready for sale). For example, Zara, a Spanish company with clothing stores all throughout the US (most clothes are manufactured in Spain, Turkey and some overseas) can design and distribute a garment to market in 15 days. Whereas, a brand will have to make a purchasing decision for overseas production 18 months in advance. That is correct: the newest colors and designs for next year and possibly even the next year after that, have already been pre-determined. There is no reason, you couldn’t wear next years colors this year.

Remember to avoid slave labor made products, remember to listen to your conscious, buy American. Good luck to American Giant. I cheer for your success but I hope that you, unlike many other companies who became very big, became too greedy, and started outsourcing their jobs overseas, stay true to your original mission and keep making clothing locally.

Success

To be an internet only company, the most difficult part is developing name recognition or even to be seen. American Giant has been successful through marketing. But they have also been blessed by being discovered by ABC News in their segments about Buying American. As there business has grown, the types of articles of clothing has also expanded.

(Updated April 18, 2014)

Internet Articles

Esquire

Tech Crunch

Inc.

Fast Company

Gear Culture

Get Kempt

Selectism

Men’s Threads

Get Kempt – Cardigans

The Style Raconteur

Gear Patrol

Free/Man

San Francisco Business Times

ilovekeithedmonds.com

“Fashions have done more harm than revolutions” -Victor Hugo

08
Apr
12

Sweatshirts Made in USA

American Giant Clothing | USA Made High Quality Apparel Free Shipping.

Mainpoint: clothingmadeinusablog goes searching for sweatshirts made in the USA.

Sweatshirts have been a staple of the male wardrobe since the 1920’s. Casual, comfortable and inexpensive, they are omnipresent like T-shirts or jeans. Sweatshirts are an American invention and up until the 1980’s, just about all sweatshirts were made in the U.S. But with the loss of trade restrictions and the widespread expansion of outsourcing, finding any American-made garments is difficult, but with sweatshirts, it is doubly difficult to find. We will attempt to find US made American sweatshirts and we will examine the history of sweatshirts.

History

The sweatshirt was invented in the 1920’s. It filled a special niche that wasn’t being met. In the early 1920’s, sportspeople, people doing track events or playing football or baseball, in order to keep warm, had to wear these knitted woollen sweaters. These sweaters were typically grey, often quite heavy and they were worn against the skin causing them to feel scratchy and uncomfortable. Additionally, because of perspiration, these garments needed to washed frequently, but they were horrendously slow to dry (they didn’t have electric clothes dryers at that time) and quite prone to shrinkage.

The new idea: in 1922, Bennie Russell, a keen University of Alabama football player suggested to his father that if they could modify a women’s union-suit top made of soft, thick cotton (which his father made) to create shirts that were loose, collarless pullovers for him and his teammates. The father was Benjamin Russell who had been making women’s and children’s underwear since 1902. These new “sweatshirts”, named by an anonymous Russell employee, were an instant hit. Within a decade, Russell had created a new division, solely for the sweatshirt business. This division was called Russell Athletic, still a major manufacturer of sweatshirts today, although, no longer in the U.S.

Refinements

The Knickerbocker Knitting Company(KKC) (est. 1919) created by brothers, Abe and Bill Feinbloom, patented a process that greatly enhanced the sales of sweatshirts in the 1920’s. The process was a flocking process that enabled raised lettering to be printed on fabric, which was ideal for high school sports. KKC, trading under the name Champion, made other improvements as well, such as the hooded sweatshirt and the zip-up. They also developed the first reverse-weave sweatshirt; the light ribbing ran horizontally across the body rather than vertically up it, which meant minor shrinkages did not affect its length, no matter how many times the garment was washed. These were manufactured by loopwheels which minimized any tension when the thread was being woven and arguably created a better garment. Loopwheels fell out of use in the 1950’s, because they were slow. These loopwheels are considered collector’s items now.

Sweatshirts were abundant but not really cool until 1963 with the release of The Great Escape, when Steve McQueen, wore one under his A2 flight jacket and during his motorcycle escape attempt.

Wrong Turn (you may skip this paragraph if you don’t want to hear about economics and politics)

In 1980, The United States made 80% of all of its manufactured goods. Wal-Mart was a speck on the map, McDonald’s hadn’t even sold 10 million burgers, China was the world’s 10th largest economy behind Argentina and Spain. The big three sweatshirt manufacturers: Russell Athletic, Hanes, and Champion, all made their clothing in the U.S. But at the end of 1980, began the “Greed is Good” Era (from the fictional Wall Street character, Gordon Gecko who was based on Wall Street Inside Trader Ivan Boesky). I am not sure why this started, but I presume it was because the public bought into “Reaganomics” and his “Trickle-Down” Theory, which said if you give money to the rich it will help the poor and the middle class (which has been proven patently false). It never made sense to me, it is like saying if you give more food to the obese, you can help the skinny gain weight. Keeping with this same analogy, if the poor and middle class are to have any money come their way, they are going to have to forage through the monetary digestive waste of the rich. Conversely, if you gave money directly to the poor, then you would see money put back almost immediately into the local economy. (Maybe a theory for the future – let us call it ‘The Trickle Up” theory.) Now that the corporations had more governmental and political power, plus more money as well as being incentivized to move jobs overseas, outsourcing started and continues to run rampant, this has improved corporate margins of profit (however, it did not increase, but actually decreased US jobs) and most importantly (to the people that passed these laws), increased executive salaries. (In 1980, the average CEO salary to the average worker ratio was 42:1; in 2010, CEO to average worker ratio increased to 343:1.) All this outsourcing has majorly injured all American manufacturing, but clothing manufacturing received an additional blow when in 1995 Congress ended all import quotas and restrictions on clothing (repealing the 1974 Multifiber Agreement). There was a full phase out by 2005, the next year, 2006, China increased its exports to the US by 100%, which continues to increase. The effect of “dumping” cheap clothes, through foreign government  subsidies, illegal manipulation of the Chinese yuan, slave labor, and illegal (if it were in the US) kickbacks to executives had caused almost all of the American manufacturers to be “Wal-Marted” out of existence. (The Wal-Mart effect – through volume and greater monetary resources a company can keep prices artificially low for an indefinite amount of time for the sole purpose of putting the small shop out of business. It is borderline illegal like colluding companies that fix prices or monopolies. Maybe if the courts said that WalMarting was illegal in 1980, then we would not have all these Mega-Stores, Mega-Banks, Mega-Insurance Companies, Mega-Chain restaurant/stores, and Mega-Communication/Utility companies). The effect of all this has had a devastating effect on the clothing manufacturers – almost daily US manufacturers folded or moved their operations overseas.

Present Day and Where to Find US Made Sweatshirts

The United States, in 2012, manufactures only 2% of the clothing it needs., but lately we have seen a few  companies bring manufacturing back to the United States. The major sweatshirt companies (Russell Athletic, Hanes, Champion) presently, have all their sweatshirts made in Honduras, Vietnam, China or elsewhere. In fact, sweatshirts are one of those very difficult items to find made in the U.S., because for many consumers, sweatshirts are casual and inexpensive to start with and, therefore, quality is usually not a big issue with many buyers. But there are some high quality sweatshirts out there, but you will have to search.

American Giant Sweatshirts

One of the newest makers of US made sweatshirts is American Giant. They are based in San Francisco and sell directly to the consumer which keeps costs down. The way that they get their brand recognition is through the internet, through blogs and clothing websites.Their prices are reasonable and of very high quality.

Listing of US Made sweatshirts – Retail – Men’s (Found in stores)

  1. American Apparel
  2. Aviator Nation
  3. Day After
  4. Envae
  5. Fieldscout
  6. Filson
  7. James Perse
  8. Joe’s
  9. Land’s End
  10. Local Green
  11. NSF Clothing
  12. Obey
  13. Patrick Ervell
  14. Retro
  15. Rogan
  16. Sol Angeles
  17. Steven Alan
  18. Threads for Thought
  19. Tim Coppins
  20. 1901

Listing of US Made Sweatshirts – Retail – Women’s (Found in Stores)

  1. Abbot and Main
  2. Allen Allen
  3. American Apparel
  4. Eileen Fisher (uncommon)
  5. Hard Tail
  6. Haute Hippie
  7. h.i.p.
  8. Jason Wu (rare)
  9. Juicy Couture (rare)
  10. Living Doll
  11. Make and Model
  12. NSF Clothing
  13. Patterson J. Kincaid
  14. Peek
  15. Pink Lotus
  16. prANA
  17. Rag & Bone
  18. Retro
  19. Soul, Mind, Breath, Life
  20. Splendid
  21. Textile
  22. T2
  23. Wildfox

Partial Listing of US Made Sweatshirts – Internet

 

  1. Aether Apparel
  2. AKWA
  3. All American Clothing
  4. American Giant
  5. American Joe
  6. Bayside
  7. Camber USA
  8. Campbellsville
  9. Daisy’s Swimwear
  10. Dehen
  11. Dyer and Jenkins
  12. Eagle USA
  13. Flint and Tinder
  14. Fresh Produce
  15. Jest Sweatshirts
  16. Kellsport
  17. King Louie
  18. KL Apparel (King Louie)
  19. Leftfield (NYC)
  20. Lightning Bolt
  21. Lifewear, Inc.
  22. My Boxercraft (Hoodie)
  23. Pop Outerwear
  24. Red Ant Pants (Hoodie)
  25. Rising Son and Co.
  26. S & H Athletics
  27. Schoodie
  28. SOS
  29. Sweatshirts USA
  30. Union House
  31. Velva Sheen (at hickorees.com)
  32. West is Dead
  33. 1791 Supply and Co.

 

Conclusion: Sweatshirts can be found in the USA, but it takes a little bit of searching – a helpful hint would be to use my blog entry;”Nordstroms, NiemanMarcus, etc. Links to clothing made in USA”. Find the store link: under” search”, type in: ‘sweatshirts made in usa’ (or ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ prior to ‘sweatshirts made in usa’). I still prefer to go to the stores and try the garment on before purchasing it.

I saw a TV commercial yesterday. Old Navy was advertising $5 polo shirts for Easter. You know, if you bought one, you are still being ripped off. My personal opinion is that they should take all the clothing off the shelves of Old Navy and put them directly into the landfill, and bypass you the middleman, who will ultimately send them to their proper place (the landfill) after one or two wearings. Just say NO to slave labor.

“I saw a women wearing a sweatshirt with Guess on it. I said ‘Thyroid Problem'” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Reference:  Icons of Men’s Style by Josh Sims, Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2011

(Updated April 18, 2014)




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