Incoming: Made-in-the-USA Outdoor Apparel
There's been a lot of talk (here and elsewhere on the web) about "insourcing"—American companies bringing their manufacturing operations back home. It's a slowly growing trend in the outdoor industry, with companies like Ibex, Keen and Princeton-Tec opening American factories or scaling back their foreign ops. For years, it just made good economic sense to shift production overseas to places like China and Indonesia. But with transportation and foreign labor costs on the rise, it's making more and more sense to make gear and apparel domestically.
Enter The American Mountain Co., the latest outdoor apparel startup to bet on the Made-in-the-USA label. Started by Brad Sawdon, a Pittsburgh, PA-based investment banker who's passionate about rock climbing and mountaineering, the nascent company plans to manufacture 100% of its products domestically (in a factory in Spokane, WA) using textiles sourced solely from U.S.-based mills.
American Mountain Co. has designed two pieces so far, a hardshell jacket and a mid-layer fleece. Both combine classic, around-town styling (that includes gusseted elbows, shiny buttons and oversized pockets) and high-performance, technical fabrics in a way that Sawdon hopes will help set his company apart from the competition. There aren't too many details about what exactly the pieces will be made of, but, according to interviews, Sawdon won't be using the same materials many companies are using, like Polartec and Gore-Tex. American Mountain Co. is currently raising capital through a Kickstarter campaign, and hopes to bring its designs into production by the start of 2013. The No. 907 (below, right) hardshell jacket is available for pre-order on Kickstarter for $350; the No. 307 (below, left) fleece is $225.
More pieces are planned before production begins in earnest, and American Mountain Co. hopes to exhibit at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake come January. Until then, check them out (and read this interview) and see what you think.