With roughly $300 billion in sales predicted for 2014, the fashion industry is a big business dominated by big businesses looking to become even bigger. When smaller houses are gobbled up by conglomerates, their connection to their craft and product is often treated as an asset rather than a legacy. But, for family-owned businesses, that sense of connection with the product and the customer is so deeply personal it becomes almost sacred. Compromising on the creation of shirts, blankets, glasses, jackets, bags, or shoes is one thing if you're in the apparel business and something else entirely if you're part of a longstanding tradition.
We talked to two generations of America's six most prosperous family-owned style companies about where their companies came from, where their companies are going, and the most memorable product they make.
"We've realized to a certain extent that our past is our future," says Jason Schott, who started his career at his family's company in the shipping department and now serves as Chief Operating Officer. "I think it's important to pay homage to the foundation that my great-grandfather started. It's what makes us special." That means slowly bringing models from the Schott archives back to market, sharing the family's story in new ways, and providing goods for eager clients in Europe and Japan, where Schott has expanded into footwear.