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Wednesday
Feb152012

A Conversation with Bayard: American Giant




The words "Made in America" do not always equate well made. Sometimes people put the two in the same sentence like it’s second nature. While brands should strive for it, it is certainly difficult to have goods made in the states without sacrificing something, whether it’s high quality materials, low mark-up or even the right personnel. But in the case of new brand American Giant, they’ve had to sacrifice nothing and it benefits us to the fullest.
I spoke with American Giant founder, former CEO of Chrome bags, Bayard Winthrop on the brand debuting its self-proclaimed “best sweatshirts in the world” and a business model that will surely ruffle some feathers. With an emphasis on all things you want to hear out of a clothing brand; quality, comfort, fit, resources, price, AG leaves nothing to the imagination. After getting to touch and wear the Hooded Sweatshirt and Snap Cardigan, I knew that this was not some feeble marketing attempt. It was not a ploy. It was for real.

"We’re entering into a fascinating time because consumers are way out in front of brands."

CREDITS
Interview & Cardigan Photography by Nick Grant

SPECIAL THANKS
To Bayard Winthrop & American Giant

LINKS
American Giant

You’ve made a pretty big claim that your sweatshirts are “the best sweatshirts in the world.” How can you substantiate that?

I’m 42 and when I was a kid, t-shirts, sweatshirts, polos were a different caliber of quality. The fit, the construction, blend of fabrics were superior. That’s gone away. We searched for pieces and started deconstructing what makes a great sweatshirt, getting those ingredients, like a great meal. We wanted that old-school cotton and started to obsess over the hand of the cotton and the dryness of the garment. Asking, “How do you get that hand?” or “how do you get that interior so it’s soft when you wear it?” The looms from the 60’s and 70’s that created these superior pieces where these pieces came from were all bought out by Japanese companies, so we had to do all of this from scratch.

Each element has a style component as well as a functional component. Like the panels under the arms of the Crew Sweatshirt. It fits more appropriately, but gives a little so you have free range to move. We paid attention to every element of the sweatshirt and after buying for comparison, there’s nothing on the market like it.

With an obvious emphasis on American made clothing, where does the “Giant” come into play in your name?

I’ve always like the idea of “Humble Giant,” which gives off a quiet strength. So when I came up with American Giant I went through about 60 files of patents that had all expired, except for one which was for apparel and accessories. I was bummed! I was like “should I just wait to let it die or call this dude to ask if he was using it?” So I said to hell with it and called him. Found out he was a super nice guy who was a trademark attorney who wrote a book called American Giant and decided to trademark. Told him my situation and found out he was a big fan of American made apparel and said that if that’s what I’m using it for, go for it. We’re actually good friends now.

Whats Next for American Giant?

Tees, polos, other basic wear in a 24 month roll out of increments of 6-8 weeks. I want the ability to keep us fresh in the eyes of the consumer. This is an old school plan to a current problem in keeping our consumers content. The plan is to be pretty aggressive and pretty rapid as we start to fill out their closet. And we’re going to focus on the well-made basics only, not going into the fashion aspect.

We’re entering into a fascinating time because consumers are way out in front of brands. They’re expecting way more from companies than what they are providing and we love participating in it. Pretty interesting to see what happens in the next year or so.