Tell us about your business.In 2011, we set out to create a new American-made apparel brand that would offer consumers utility and style along with true quality and value. We started with the sweatshirt, a piece that we saw as iconically American but that had dropped in quality since the 1950s when America was at its peak in apparel manufacturing. From there we’ve built a line of t-shirts, sweatpants and other products for men and women. We chose to manufacture everything in the U.S. because we believe it's possible to make the best stuff in the world right here in America. We sell everything directly to consumers online, eliminating the high costs of traditional retail distribution because we believe that consumers should not have to pay premiums or make sacrifices on quality for the American-made label. We work with some of the best cotton growers, fabric producers and apparel manufacturers in the world, located in South Carolina and in California where our company is headquartered.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.We’re headquartered in San Francisco, one of the great centers of American innovation. Our neighborhood, SoMa, is home to some of the most promising tech startups in the world. We have an open floor plan space in an historic building that we’ve filled with quotes, images and books that inspire us. Our office doubles as a studio for photo shoots and a retail space where visitors can come in to try on and purchase our clothing. We’ve had people from all over the country and the world come to our studio to buy some new duds, and see what American Giant is all about.
What inspires you?Our brand takes inspiration from Isoroku Yamamoto’s quote: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” His words came after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Giant he referred to was the United States. We see the American spirit as a giant; determined, strong and unwavering. We designed our flagship silhouette, the hooded sweatshirt, and every piece that has come since with this in spirit in mind. We’re inspired every day by the hard working Americans who make this country great. We want to make clothing that can last a very full lifetime and never fall apart.
What makes your business stand out?In creating the brand, and our product line, we set out to create something that felt familiar yet fresh. American silhouettes that are iconic and seemingly common, and yet the design harkens back to 1950s custom clothing, and feels almost tailored: A full-zip hooded sweatshirt that fits so well it almost hugs you. A tee shirt that is soft, yet durable, and holds its color. It’s a nod to favorite national pastimes, as well as a bright future. This is rare in today’s world of apparel design and manufacturing, where fast-fashion focuses on making and selling apparel for cheap. We embrace and encourage the idea of making reasonably priced high quality clothing that you only buy once - and have forever. This appeals to our customers who are mindful when it comes to apparel, and who make investments instead of purchases. They believe in what we do, and so they believe in our company and our clothing. When people are buying one of our garments, they’re buying into our core belief system.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?Your future customers are savvy, so don’t try to out-think them. Offer them a product that’s perfect, and a brand that stands for things they aspire to. If they know that you are passionate about the things that inspire them, it will create a shared conviction between company and customer to chase something meaningful. For us it was helping to power the resurgence of American manufacturing and craftsmanship, and with our superior quality products, empowering our customers to take an active role in this significant paradigm shift. It’s important and powerful to partner with your customers, and doing it for something bigger than yourselves or your company is more American than anything.
What does American Made mean to you?This country was built on making things that offer great quality and value. In the 1950s we made some of the best stuff you could get in the world and sold it at a great price. At American Giant we want to bring back that sense of value and give customers a reason to support brands that make things here, without making sacrifices. We work with talented people who have mastered their craft and we’re constantly working to make manufacturing more efficient, ultimately making our product more competitive. By making things closer to home we’re able to closely monitor quality at every step of the process, from the cotton harvest to the finishing touches on a garment. This allows us to catch flaws and solve problems more quickly so that we don’t have to pass higher costs or lower quality on to the consumer. To us making things in America is about innovation and a commitment to quality and value.
Mark Your Calendar
NOMINATIONSJun. 17, 2015
Nominate yourself or other aspiring entrepreneurs.Learn about American Made
VOTING BEGINSSep. 21, 2015
Vote for your favorite makers.
WINNERS ANNOUNCEDOct. 23, 2015
2015 Editors' Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
AMERICAN MADE SUMMITNov. 7, 2015
Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City. Tickets available July 2015.