American heritage brands…don’t call it a comeback

The last couple of years I have noticed a resurgence amongst American clothing companies as I’m sure many of you have.  There has been a trend of companies reinventing themselves by bringing out what first made them successful- but they have also brought back a look, some from as early as the early 1900’s.  The companies that have made the notable shifts back to their roots have been Levi’s, LL Bean- Signature Collection, Eddie Bauer- First Ascent, Woolrich, Pendleton, and Filson.

While in NYC last week I happened across the new Levi’s store in the Meatpacking district. I was pulled right in by the red tab sign with no lettering. It seemed almost like an exclusive Levi store and it was reiterated inside with offerings from other quality American brands.

LL Bean’s launch of the Signature Collection was a true reflection on their beginnings and has been executed very well. They continued the Signature Collection into Fall 2010 and I would imagine beyond. Notice at the end of the video…”New Classics. Inspired By Our Heritage.”

Eddie Bauer has also reached back in time to 1963 when they outfitted the first American, Jim Whitaker, to summit Everest. They hired an historian, Colin Berg, and he went about and found all sorts of old EB mountaineering clothing and since created an archive which is open to the public in Bellevue, Washington. Based on these mountaineering roots, they launched First Ascent in 2009. This is such a good move as people have to get past what EB became over the years and understand First Ascent is putting Eddie Bauer back on the map in the outdoor industry.

The classic brands that any outdoorsmen wore in the early 1900’s such as Woolrich, Pendleton, and Filson have also been bringing modern spins to clothing of yesteryear. Woolrich is celebrating their 180th anniversary and have demonstrated that they are by no means stuck in the past. They have also launched another brand Woolrich Woolen Mills that targets the younger consumer. Pendleton too has made itself more relevant- but how much do you want to change the perfect plaid shirt to have on the hook next the door?

Established in 1897 with headquarters in Seattle,  Filson has enjoyed a considerable resurgence in the last few years as people have begun to rediscover the importance of American craftsmanship and recognize the pioneering brands and products that helped build this country. Filson has recently collaborated with Levi’s to create a workwear brand that focuses on a “Made in the USA” mantra.

Along with clothing companies you will see that Red Wing boots have also enjoyed a renewed branding. Most notable is JCrew bringing out the archival Red Wing boots of the past. Red Wing only brought back the “Classic” boot to America two years ago after riding a popularity wave in Japan. Japan has been on the forefront of the American vintage reclamation.

Don’t call it a comeback but a resurgence of American sentiment towards authentic brands.

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