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.
Will Leather Goods is busy figuring out how to reach beyond the Pacific Northwest. "Retail is a huge step for the family so we can really tell our story from beginning to end," says Will's daughter Shane, who serves as Will Leather Goods' Director of Retail Development when she isn't taking roles as an actress (you may have seen her in The Social Network). Along with leather goods for men and women, the brand's new shops feature some of Shane's favorite things, including eclectic pieces from her travels and complimentary Oregon roast espresso.