Factory Tour | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

Made in Rochester | Hickey Freeman

Feb 2nd, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, Factory Tour, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

Home to corporate juggernauts like Kodak and Xerox, Rochester, New York has a rich industrial history. In addition to some of America’s largest companies, the city is also quietly home to Hickey Freeman, one of the country’s oldest and last surviving (and arguably one of the best) clothiers. Founded in 1899 by Jeremiah Hickey and Jacob Freeman, the company is still at it, making suits in their sprawling 77,000 square foot factory in Rochester. Having been to several other clothing factories in the U.S., I have been interested in paying a visit to Hickey Freeman for the past several years. I wanted to see firsthand the quality of the Hickey Freeman full canvas construction. Needless to say, when I finally got the opportunity to see the operation I was not disappointed.

The factory in Rochester ranks up there as one of the most well organized I have ever seen. Wait, I should clarify that last statement a little bit. Hickey Freeman’s plant is one of the most well organized clothing factories that I have come across in the U.S. Allen Edmonds also has a pretty amazing production facility in Wisconsin that I have toured. There aren’t a lot of clothing companies still operating in the U.S., which is why it is interesting to see how advanced the Hickey Freeman process and facilities are. Everything is clean, well organized and modern. And all of this in the same building the company was founded in. Pretty amazing if you ask me. All of the garments move through the production line on special trays that the company has produced especially for its needs. In most clothing factories pieces and parts are bundled. You will notice in the photos that special care is given at every step to preserve the desired shape of the clothing as it snakes its way through the process. This example just illustrates the care and attention that goes into making a Hickey Freeman suit.

Another thing that stood out to me about the factory is the diversity of the work force, something that is also unrivaled at any facility I have been to previously. The plant manager told me they have workers from 17 different countries under one roof. It literally is the closest thing to a melting pot that I have ever seen working together. And everyone is working toward one common goal, to make fine tailored goods.

Sneak Peek | Red Wing Shoe Co. AW11

Jan 16th, 2011 | Categories: Factory Tour, Footwear, Made in the USA, Minnesota | by Michael Williams

It is that time of year when the real anticipation starts to take hold, anticipation for stuff that doesn’t come out for months. To that end, allow me to introduce to you to some nice looking (“tasty” as my buddy Mr. Aaron Levine would say) boots from the Red Wing North America AW11 collection. Just a little sneak peek of what’s to come.

Red Wing 8881 in Olive Mohave

Red Wing 8881 in Olive Mohave

Red Wing 8881 in Olive Mohave

The Making of the Leica M9

Dec 27th, 2010 | Categories: Factory Tour, Germany, Photography | by Michael Williams

There are things in this world that one needs and there are things that one wants. The Lecia M9 is most decidedly living in the want category. The below videos show the assembly process of these beautiful German made cameras, showing you exactly what goes into making such a fine machine. Because what could be better than seeing something amazing being made, even if that thing is far too expensive for you to own.

Inside Horween Leather

Oct 21st, 2010 | Categories: Chicago, Factory Tour, Footwear, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

This past summer I took a trip to visit the Horween tannery in Chicago. The purpose of the trip was to document the process of making shell cordovan for Wolverine. (Full disclosure, Wolverine is a client of my marketing firm Paul + Williams.) The cordovan would eventually be used in the making of the newly released Wolverine 1000 Mile 721LTD boots. To be able to go out there, see the Horween plant and document everything was really an amazing experience. To follow the process of making these special (and damn-good-looking in my totally-unbiased-opinion) boots was definitely the highlight of my summer and something I am really proud to have been a part of. While the cameras were rolling I tagged along shooting hundreds of photos of Horween, which up until now, have been sitting in a folder on my computer. With the boots just landing in stores I feel like it is time to show you all some of my favorites from Horween. (I also have a photo series from the factory where the boots were made. Standy by for that.) I can say for certain that the legend of Horween is 100% real and was something experienced first hand with them this summer in Chicago. You’d be hard pressed to find better people. They remind me of the folks back home in Ohio — salt of the earth.

Inside Pendleton Woolen Mills

Sep 5th, 2010 | Categories: Americana, Factory Tour, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

These videos from the Pendleton Woolen Mills plant in Washougal, Washington seemed especially poignant after the recent post on The Good Flock. The tour basically provides you with more than you would ever need to know about how Pendleton blankets are made. But I think the process is interesting and it is good to see the production of such an iconic American product remains stateside.

Made in Chicago | Oxxford Clothes

Aug 29th, 2010 | Categories: Chicago, Clothing, Factory Tour, Video | by Michael Williams

The good people at Oxxford Clothes have put together a short film documenting the process of making what many think to be America’s finest tailored clothing. If there were any question as to Oxxford’s quality and make, the company dispels all doubt with the “Anatomy of the Suit” section of its website. It seems clear that Oxxford has set the standard for making heirloom-quality-goods. I own quite a few suits, but sadly none of them are made by Oxxford. This needs to change.

Thanks to Michael for the tip.

No Sleep till Bushwick | Martin Greenfield Clothiers

Jul 29th, 2010 | Categories: Factory Tour, Made in New York, New York City, Suiting | by Michael Williams

There is really nothing like a clothing factory. And I mean clothing in the proper menswear sense of the word — suiting. It really is amazing that I haven’t visited the good people at Martin Greenfield sooner, but I never really had a good opportunity. When Tyler Thoreson and I got to talking about Gilt’s Martin Greenfield suit offering it was just the chance I was looking for. Ladies in smocks constructing jackets, sewers sitting together stitching by hand, and of course, Martin (along with his two sons) on the factory floor full of enthusiasm. Check this off my list.

You can tell this place never stops and probably hasn’t for years. (Note the GGG clock.) The floor gets layered and layered around tables and machines because there is no time to stop production and redo the worn out floor. The factory has been there so long the neighborhood went from good to bad to hipster in a blink of Martin’s eye. During their breaks, the Greenfield factory workers spill out onto the sidewalk in front of the building and mix with seemingly unemployed creative types that inhabit the post-industrial streets of Bushwick.