ALLEN EDMONDS LAUNCHES MADE IN USA APPAREL

logo-originalThis past week Allen Edmonds, the 91 year old footwear brand out of Port Washington WI launched a small collection of apparel.  There are enough pieces to create 8-10 classic looks, which can be seen below, but what is most important about this launch is that 90% of this collection was made right here, in the USA.

Paul Grangaard, the brands President and CEO states ‘This is all about great American styling combined with American manufacturing authenticity…Allen Edmonds has proven that world class shoes can be handcrafted in America. Now we’re going to help show the world that it also can still be done in amazing clothing and leather goods.’  With the manufacturing of this line, Allen Edmonds, along with their production partners were able to create and fill more than 280 skilled labor jobs, all filled by the american worker.

Along with this launch, the company has also re-braneded themselves and have picked up the tag line, ‘An American Original’.  The logo is clean, simple and classic, which really speaks to the brand and their offering.

Look3_001 Look1_004 Look3_004 Look2_004 Look1_001 Look4_004 Look4_001 Look2_001

‘MEN OF STYLE’ BY DOCKERS: FEATURING MISTER WILLIAMS

Dockers ‘Men of Style’ featured Northeast Ohio’s own Michael Williams, co-foudner of Paul+Williams and creator of one of the best menswear/Americana blogs, A Continuous Lean.  Michael expresses his thought on classic styling, where he finds inspiration and what he wants to see his grandson wearing.  I cannot agree more with what he has to say and I have already started to influence my own son on how important classic styling is to a man.

MERCEDES MOTORING

14lookout-cars-tmagArticle

A few Sunday’s ago I came across an article about J.G. Francis and his partner Sean Johnstun in the NYT Style Magazine. These two gents founded Mercedes Motoring out their love for vintage Mercedes. Francis and Johnstun find these classics, give them the needed TLC and turn them back into the gems they were when they rolled off the production line in the late 60’s and 70’s. Francis states ‘in my opinion they are the best mass-production cars ever made’.

They do have some conditions on what auto’s they will/will not refurbish. It must have low mileage and be mostly original with respect to paint, interior, and drivetrain. There must be extensive documented history validating their low miles and it needs to have been well-maintained and garage-kept.

The team will find an auto for you if you don’t like their current inventory. They only ask for some info and a $1500 deposit to begin the search. Their site has a few currently up for sale, including photos of past works and testimony from current owners. Here is just a sampling of what Mercedes Motoring has to offer.

1980300cdincare99 dsc05882 4 13 img0167 1980450slaprico 1980450slaprico74 1979300sdlighti27

MIKE ROWE’S SENATE TESTIMONY

mikerowetestifyingThe below is the transcript from Mike Rowe’s testimony before the U.S Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from May 11, 2011.  While is has been posted many times and is almost 2 years old, I always take the time to reread it every so often.  It reminds me of my grandfather, his generation, as well as my father-in-law. The men and women who worked hard to make this country what is today.  It also grounds me and forces me to think about what I would be doing for a career if I was not in the rag business.

I question if I would be able to make it in a skilled trade role because I truly believe that type of skill and understanding is far more superior than picking the right apparel trend, owning the right inventory or pricing your goods competitively.  I am not a life coach or motivational speaker, but take the time to read what Mike Rowe had to say and if you already did, take the time to ready it again.  You can thank me later.

May 11, 2011

“Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison and members of this committee, my name is Mike Rowe, and I want to thank you all very much for the opportunity to testify before you today.

I’m here today because of my grandfather.

His name was Carl Knobel, and he made his living in Baltimore as a master electrician. He was also a plumber, a mechanic, a mason, and a carpenter. Everyone knew him as a jack-of-all-trades. I knew him as a magician.

For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous. Some days he might re-shingle a roof. Or rebuild a motor. Or maybe run electricity out to our barn. He helped build the church I went to as a kid, and the farmhouse my brothers and I grew up in. He could fix or build anything, but to my knowledge he never once read the directions. He just knew how stuff worked.

I remember one Saturday morning when I was 12. I flushed the toilet in the same way I always had. The toilet however, responded in a way that was completely out of character. There was a rumbling sound, followed by a distant gurgle. Then, everything that had gone down reappeared in a rather violent and spectacular fashion.

Naturally, my grandfather was called in to investigate, and within the hour I was invited to join he and my dad in the front yard with picks and shovels.

By lunch, the lawn was littered with fragments of old pipe and mounds of dirt. There was welding and pipe-fitting, blisters and laughter, and maybe some questionable language. By sunset we were completely filthy. But a new pipe was installed, the dirt was back in the hole, and our toilet was back on its best behavior. It was one of my favorite days ever.

Thirty years later in San Francisco when my toilet blew up again. This time, I didn’t participate in the repair process. I just called my landlord, left a check on the kitchen counter, and went to work. When I got home, the mess was cleaned up and the problem was solved. As for the actual plumber who did the work, I never even met him.

It occurred to me that I had become disconnected from a lot of things that used to fascinate me. I no longer thought about where my food came from, or how my electricity worked, or who fixed my pipes, or who made my clothes. There was no reason to. I had become less interested in how things got made, and more interested in how things got bought.

At this point my grandfather was well into his 80s, and after a long visit with him one weekend, I decided to do a TV show in his honor. Today, Dirty Jobs is still on the air, and I am here before this committee, hoping to say something useful. So, here it is.

I believe we need a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. A big one. Something that addresses the widening skills gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce.

Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The skills gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They’re retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them.

Alabama’s not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn’t a lack of funds. It wasn’t a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders.

In general, we’re surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn’t be. We’ve pretty much guaranteed it.

In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of “higher education” to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled “alternative.” Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as “vocational consolation prizes,” best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of “shovel ready” jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.

In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a “good job” into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber ’ if you can find one ’ is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we’ll all be in need of both.

I came here today because guys like my grandfather are no less important to civilized life than they were 50 years ago. Maybe they’re in short supply because we don’t acknowledge them they way we used to. We leave our check on the kitchen counter, and hope the work gets done. That needs to change.

My written testimony includes the details of several initiatives designed to close the skills gap, all of which I’ve had the privilege to participate in. Go Build Alabama, I Make America, and my own modest efforts through Dirty Jobs and mikeroweWORKS. I’m especially proud to announce “Discover Your Skills,” a broad-based initiative from Discovery Communications that I believe can change perceptions in a meaningful way.

I encourage you to support these efforts, because closing the skills gap doesn’t just benefit future tradesmen and the companies desperate to hire them. It benefits people like me, and anyone else who shares my addiction to paved roads, reliable bridges, heating, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing.

The skills gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work.”