FEATURE American Giant Founder, Bayard Winthrop
Image Credit: American Giant

American Giant Menswear Could Be Just That

by Gil Melott
American-made menswear from upstart American Giant is all about quality and convenience. The 'basics' upgraded and brought to you by former Chrome bags executive Bayard Winthrop.

According to some studies, what a person is named can affect his or her destiny and success in life. Apparently, there are success and failure patterns that follow certain types of names. Of course, this doesn’t hold true for everyone with a particular name. It’s just something to consider. The same holds true for businesses. Sometimes you don't have to go out of your way to cleverly and phonetically spell a synonym for success... you just call your business like you see it and want it to be. And so it goes for American Giant.

Serial entrepreneur, (another way of saying a guy who continues to build some solid businesses and moves on to build others) Bayard Winthrop is out to set the menswear premium basics sector and American manufacturing on its ear. Yes, I said American manufacturing. More on that in a minute.

Winthrop is enthusiastic, maniacally focused and determined to raise the bar in the quality of menswear products.

He was raised in Connecticut, and as he put it 'had a chip on his shoulders with something to prove.' He went right into corporate finance after college to get a career jump-start. He seemed to want more and at the age of 25, packed up his bags and his hubris and headed to San Francisco to make his mark. He landed a job at Atlas Snow Shoe Company where he really learned about manufacturing, branding, distribution and building a customer base cenetered on strong core, quality products.

This gave Winthrop the impetus to start his first internet company, WebChat, which he later went on to sell to Infoseek. He was co-founder of Freebord, a kick-ass skateboard that simulates a snowboard, before heading up the durable bag company Chrome. And now Winthrop wants to reconfigure the mindset of clothing manufacturing and sales and do it all here in the United States with American Giant. Winthrop says he can offer higher-quality garments for lower prices than his competitors--and do all his manufacturing in the U.S.--by skipping the brick-and-mortar route. "Once you take store rent and maintenance out of the equation, along with the costs of staffing and stocking those stores, you suddenly have a lot of money left for production," declares Winthrop.

American Giant aims to be the leader in men's premium basics clothing and sell it all online. The timing seems right. The consumer has become more and more comfortable (and willing) to purchase goods online, sight unseen. It just takes an established relationship with a brand.

According to Winthrop, "American Giant has almost made it a religion when it comes to bringing the quality a customer wants. The quality they are missing from other big chains," referring in this case to the Gaps, Banana Republics and J. Crews of the world. "The consumer is incredibly savvy and deliberate when they spend their dollars. And belief in a brand, its quality and a brand's integrity are critical."

Technology and textiles seem to have a symbiotic relationship in American Giant. "We know that technology not only allows us to communicate and distribute, but to react and be nimble for our business and our customer." asserts Winthrop.

Five styles of sweatshirts in seven colors are on the virtual shelves now, with T-shirts coming online in six to eight weeks and polos six to eight weeks after that. The collection comprises a solid Americana of red, heather gray, indigo blue, off-white, black, brown and burnt orange, and sells between $59-$89. American Giant is now available online with an expanded line including T-shirts and other essentials coming soon.

So if the theory holds true about naming your 'kid' and its effect on their destiny, American Giant sounds like a name that is poised for success. And Bayard is certainly not John or Steve or James, but it is one of a kind and it seems to be playing in Winthrop's favor. 

FIVE ?'s | Bayard Winthrop

What is the last great band/song you listened to?
Springsteen's "We Take Care Of Our Own".

How do you listen to tunes at the office or traveling?
I listen to most of my stuff on my iPhone. At the office, for now we have Pandora playing. We have a lot of musical tension (laughs) so we haven't settled yet.

What's your one 'never fail' daily ritual? 
Very early coffee and the gym to clear my head. Get me going and to clear my head.

Who would you personally like to hand an American Giant Sweatshirt to?
My brothers. I still can't believe I haven't. I need to make sure I get that done this week. But when we were kids we used to play hockey all day skating around in our old US Navy sweatshirts. It has a nostalgic sentiment to me. They will get it.

What it is your best personal accessory?
My motorcycle!

By way of a disclaimer. I happen to be wearing a zipper front hoodie from American Giant (I am now calling it the G-Hood), and can tell you it's damn comfortable, durably rich and now a part of my arsenal.

  • Gil Melott is Publisher of JACKarcher and head of JACKarcher | JA+. Gil digs all things that haven't happened yet but probably should in music, fashion, art, film, design - you get the picture. Likes the influencers of all things NEXT and the strategies to get them there. Can appreciate great fried chicken, an amazing Malbec, a 1971 Ford Bronco, finding hot bands, and riding a bike any time. He spends a lot of time with his American Bulldog Chap who is the biggest influencer of what happens NEXT.