1620 Workwear tries to meet demand for its clothing made in the USA
While their competitors ran into supply chain issues during the pandemic, De Innocentis and Walker simply ramped up their production pace.
“It’s very difficult to get goods out of Asia right now,” Walker said. “It will likely be towards the end of 2022 before overseas supply chains become operational again. [fully]. We are not going to miss a thing. We accelerate through it.
De Innocentis and Walker are both veterans of the apparel industry and got to know each other while working in the ski and snowboard industry in the mid-2000s. (Walker most recently worked for the sports helmet company Bern Unlimited, while De Innocentis previously worked in a garment factory in China.) The two friends rocked conventional wisdom in 2016 when they started the 1620 Workwear business, with the express intention of only selling Manufacturing Apparel. American. They say they stayed true to that made in America commitment to 1620 – named after the year the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock – mainly by sourcing from textile factories in Massachusetts and North Carolina. .
They sell high-end clothing for skilled workers – plumbers, painters, electricians, welders, carpenters, etc. Think hoodies for $ 138, pairs of double-knee utility pants for $ 174, and a pair of fully made-in-Massachusetts pants for $ 198. Their thesis: Many workers will pay extra for shirts and pants that are much more durable and ergonomic than their cheaper, overseas-made counterparts, in part because they’ll save money on clothes in the long run. term.
“The buying habits of customers are really starting to change,” Walker said. “They want a more sustainable product. They want something more sustainable. They are prepared to pay more. . . You can’t pretend with this guy. You can’t come up with something that won’t be hard enough.
De Innocentis said the boom in construction, especially home renovations, since the start of the pandemic has also helped boost sales.
“We’re making a better product and that starts to resonate after three or four years in the market,” he said. “Word of mouth is picking up steam. “
The clothes are designed in-house and sold direct to consumers, primarily through the 1620 website. This way the company keeps more of the money from each sale than it would in physical stores, although De Innocentis and Walker sometimes discuss with retailers the possibility of taking their brand. They have angel investors, but together the two partners retain a controlling stake in the company. Next step: development of a line of workwear for women (all styles are still designed for men today) and expansion into flame retardant clothing.
“As an entrepreneur, it takes courage to believe in American manufacturing,” Walker said. “Each of our competitors relocates. What we do is more difficult, but we are successful because we have worked hard to find it.
Mary Reardon, vice president of sales and marketing at Tweave Textile Factory in Fall River, said it was encouraging to see 1620 Workwear growing so quickly. “They do a great job of marketing and publicizing their products,” she said.
Tweave, a division of Gehring-Tricot, has provided stretch fabrics for De Innocentis and Walker since its inception in 1620. (Tweave has a variety of other customers, possibly most notably a League uniform and clothing contract National Football Association with Nike.) Reardon said she is noticing more and more clothing companies approaching her 50-person factory for help with the “relocation” work due to breakdowns in the industry. supply abroad. .
“We had a lot of new people reaching out to us,” Reardon said. “People who were building their product overseas and sourcing overseas are now looking at options to make their supply chain easier and more reliable. “
It’s not just the clothing industry.
Supply chains are being redesigned in almost every aspect of manufacturing. AccuRounds chief executive Michael Tamasi said he heard examples from medical devices, robotics, semiconductors, aerospace, oil and gas. The disruption related to COVID-19 has prompted many manufacturers to see the benefits of the 1620 Workwear approach, especially as labor costs rise in Asia, lowering the cost-benefits of manufacturing products. things there.
“Add in the supply chain disruptions, and in many cases it’s actually cheaper to manufacture [something] in this country, ”said Tamasi, whose company operates a precision machining plant in Avon. “Businesses cannot afford to be isolated. More companies. . . are focusing their supply chain in the United States to mitigate their risk.