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.
Behind the rebellious leather jacket brand is a family with 100 year's worth of knowledge and a hands-on approach. Company President Roz Schott frequently hand inspects products being sewn together by factory workers she's known most of her life. "We have a cutter who has been with the company for over 45 years," Roz brags. "He started when he was 18 years old. My grandfather, Irving Schott, stood behind him for an entire week and showed him where to place the knife and how to hold the pattern. Now it takes about three months to train a cutter. My grandfather taught us the importance of investing in the people who work for you. They trained everyone by example and by standing right there next to them.”