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.
Mort Bishop loves spending time in the Pendleton weaving mill his father and grandfather first took him to visit when he was four years old. "Awesome, would be the word," he says of the Washougal, Washington, facility. "Larger than life, many moving parts, noise, the smell of wool, visceral senses. For more than a 100 years, that mill and a larger one in the town of Pendleton, Oregon, have been part of the family business, a Pacific Northwest mainstay now in its sixth generation.