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.
The Pendleton Blanket
Pendleton became prominent 100 years ago when its mill started churning out thick wool blankets featuring elaborate Native American designs. By the fifties, the company was producing wool shirts that became popular with the California surf crowd (The Beach Boys were originally named the Pendletones). The company continued to diversify its offering – and specialize in wool production – but its original blankets have never gone out of style. Though less scratchy fabrics are now available, the company's name will always be synonymous with the colorful camp blankets you're likely to find on beds in hip hotels and luxury camps the world over. [From $189; pendleton-usa.com]
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco