"The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made" is made right here in America.
Starting a clothing business isn’t easy and throwing all conventional wisdom of the industry out the window makes it downright hard, but Bayard Winthrop, founder and CEO of American Giant, did just that. In early 2012, he launched the American Giant line of American Made Sweatshirts with a very different business model than most apparel companies.
Winthrop, focusing on quality and investment in the product over all else, developed a business focused on producing the absolute best sweatshirts on the market. Today, his business is booming and American Giant has expanded from a small factory in Brisbane, California to three new factories in North Carolina and another near Los Angeles. Winthrop’s commitment to quality and American-made products are only a few of the elements that make American Giant so successful, though.
The business model championed by Winthrop is what catapulted American Giant from a small startup touted by Slate as The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made to a company that is labeled one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies in 2015 “for breathing new life into U.S. apparel manufacturing” according to Fast Company. With nearly the entire supply chain, from cotton to finished product, produced inside the United States, the company has unparalleled control over quality and manufacturing of the product unlike competitors that face cultural, language, and continental barriers that plague overseas manufacturing.
The underlying business philosophy is the key, Winthrop explains:
The apparel business is broken. Traditional apparel companies invest far more in distribution, real estate and marketing than in the product itself. To cut cost they manufacture off shore, and make products as cheaply as possible. At American Giant we invest in what matters to us and to our customers: high quality product, American manufacturing and exceptional service, and strip away everything else. -Bayard Winthrop, American Giant Founder and CEO
American Giant scoffs at the status quo of ballooning advertising budgets, constant discounts, and expensive real estate costs all associated with the modern day clothing manufacturer. By shedding massive overhead costs, Winthrop has created a 21st century, U.S.-made powerhouse in the apparel industry. The dedication to quality and a business model that is focused on manufacturing costs has proved U.S. apparel manufacturing is possible and a commercially viable business model. American Giant’s reliance on high quality, word-of-mouth advertising, and a digital distribution network are the antithesis of the modern, multinational apparel industry.
While American Giant is still not a household name, the company is barely able to keep up with growing demand. It has already expanded its product line to other cotton-based apparel like sweatpants and polos. With glowing endorsements and a story of American ingenuity and manufacturing, I couldn’t help but order “The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made” for myself. I eagerly await the opportunity to test the claims and see why everyone is raving about the company. Winthrop’s dedication to quality and American manufacturing is definitely something to watch as American Giant continues to redefine the fashion industry.
- Made in America