INSPIRED BY CHINA, AMERICAN-MADE
Hemingway would have loved the founders of 1620, the burgeoning workwear company located in the historic New England town of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Josh Walker [(r) above], self-described on his Instagram as a man who can “shotgun a beer and reiterate Thoreau,” and his partner, Edward (Ted) de Innocentis combined their work experience with wearable brands (in Walker’s case it was a well-known helmet, in de Innocentis’, it was industrial strength sports garments).
Together these two outdoor sports aficionados are making durable, 21st century apparel for the men who work and play hard. Instead of corduroy, they are using Cordura. They’ve taken Nylon and Spandex and made it stretchy but stringent enough not to become misshapen by a little wear.
Cotton is so last year and so not made in America these days. In Josh’s words, this is 1620.
How did 1620 get started?
My partner, Ted, came home from five years living in Mainland China, building some of the best products in the world at a very high-end garment manufacturer. I left my role as a founding member and marketing director (over 12 years) for Bern helmets, www.bernunlimited.com. We knew that we wanted to take what we had learned and apply it to building products and a brand here, in the US. We saw a gap in the workwear market.
What makes 1620 unique and why?
No one is making products for the workwear market as technically superior, to other brands as we are, and no one really makes product in the USA — the big brands make very low, percent-wise, of their garments here. Iconic brands for US workers made overseas makes no sense to us.
Explain some of the details involved in developing your (product, designs, line, accessories, brand) raising capital and finding a manufacturer.
A lot of this is propriety. It is competitive to raise money, to find manufacturing, to build a brand people want to buy here in the US, to find fabric suppliers at minimums you can work with, to shoot photos at the right money amount and make high-end videos/collateral for fractions of the cost. We both have long careers and have some acumen here but we also see the value in this and if you want – we do consult. We are more than willing to tell anyone more about this if they like, for a fee (laughs). You can contact us through www.1620usa.com
Did you do anything special for your launch?
Yes, we did our own ‘Kickstarter’ where we basically leveraged our networks and buzz to sell $30K worth of product, made to order/pre-sale. Like a Kickstarter, we sold out in 11 days! People want a better pant and a cooler brand.
What does 1620 offer customers that will keep them coming back?
The best product in this category, superior performance and comfort. Long lead value — our products [cost] two-to-three times more now but last three-to-five times longer, so you actually save money. A brand they can relate to and are a part of. A feeling of supporting their local economy and country.
What is a typical workday like?
Twelve-plus hours, six to seven days a week. This is a startup. You name it and a day can consist of it. From legal paperwork, to raising money, to selling, to building product to QC, to events, to …There is no typical day, other than it is typically long!
Now that you’ve met 1620, go buy a pair of their premium work pants, like these. Heck, they’ll even give you 15% your first purchase! As a result, you’ll surely want to thank me. They look like they can really take a major beating, while lasting longer than any other pants you could buy and a lifetime guarantee to boot! 1620 has an entire line of clothing for men who require high performance work wear. Certainly they’re worth a look the next time you’re in the market for sturdy work wear.
While you’re at it, take a look at our brand post on 1620 Workwear!
Also, coming soon, a review of those pants I just mentioned…
Lastly, thanks to Josh for taking the time to participate in this interview!