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.
Zack Moscot, an eyewear designer for the company founded by his great-great grandfather, says he looks to old models for inspiration. "We choose to replicate them the way that they were done because they're such good quality," he says. Subtle changes in recent offerings such as the Sun Collection include experiments with the thickness of different frames, new colors, and lens gradients. Still, when Zack wants to be cutting edge, he looks at the archives and ponders what can be created with traditional crown glass and acetate production.