Factory Tour | A Continuous Lean. - Page 3

Wolverine 1000 Mile Collection | 721LTD

Jul 7th, 2010 | Categories: Factory Tour, Film, Footwear, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

News of the launch of the Wolverine 1000 Mile collection first came in February of 2009. It was around that time that I met some of the people from Wolverine and wrote about the collection. Later, Wolverine invited me to a little event they put together in the city and I got a chance to meet all of the people involved in the 1000 Mile line — all good people. After that we started talking more and eventually Wolverine hired my public relations firm to help out with the 1000 Mile Collection — which has been a lot of fun. (In case you missed it, that was my full disclosure.)

A project that we have been working on over the past several months is the special edition, limited-quantity Wolverine 1000 Mile boot with the imprint 721LTD. The undertaking, which is named for the original 1000 Mile boot reference number, was pulled directly from the company’s archives from over 125 years of boot making. To celebrate the provenance of the 721LTD boots, Wolverine commissioned a film series (directed by my friend Sean Sullivan) to document the journey of these unique 1000 Mile boots. The opening chapter takes you on a pilgrimage to Chicago to visit the Horween leather company, America’s finest tannery and supplier of shell cordovan to the 721LTD 1000 Mile boots.

I’m proud and excited to share this short film with you and to take you inside Horween, a truly special place and national treasure. These kinds of projects are what it is all about for me. To work with good people like the folks at Wolverine, Sullivan and all of the people at Horween on something as legitimate as the 1000 Mile boots.

Randolph Engineering | Made in these United States

Jun 30th, 2010 | Categories: Factory Tour, Made in the USA, Military | by Michael Williams

A little while back I took a trip to Randolph Engineering to check out their factory and see how the U.S. Navy aviator sunglasses are made. A few extra photos from the Massachusetts manufacturer are below, but click on over and check out the post at GQ.

Field Trip | Hamilton Shirts Factory Tour

Dec 7th, 2009 | Categories: Factory Tour, Houston, Made in the USA, Men's wear, Shirts, Texas | by Michael Williams


The first factory tour I posted on ACL was Rocco Ciccarelli’s suit factory in Queens.  Previous to that, my friend took me to a tie factory in Manhattan but that predates ACL and it was never posted. Watching the ties being made was my first foray into the spectator sport of apparel manufacturing. This week — with a trip to the Hamilton Shirts factory in Houston — I finally completed the trifecta of menswear staples: suits, shirts and ties.

A Look Inside Alden

Oct 22nd, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Brooklyn, Factory Tour, Footwear | by Michael Williams

The Brooklyn shop Epaulet recently took a trip up to Middleborough, Mass. to visit the factory of the venerable American shoemaker Alden to finalize the details on the shop’s new special edition Brixton boot. In addition to coming back with a great looking pair of boots, Epaulet owner Mike Kuhle and filmmaker Tom Eaton put together an interesting look at the Alden operation including the video below and a nice photo gallery. American boots and a factory tour? Sounds like a perfect Thursday to me.

Field Trip | Schott Factory Tour

Sep 14th, 2009 | Categories: Factory Tour, Made in the USA, Motorcycles, New York City | by Michael Williams

Not too far into the bio on the Schott website you will find this sentence: “We are a true-blue, real-deal, piece of Americana.” It really can’t be put any better, so that is all I really need to say. A few weeks back I took a little trip out to the Schott factory in New Jersey to see the nearly 100 year old company in action. After seeing the facilities and meeting the good people from Schott, I left with a renewed sense of appreciation for a company with devotion to not only quality, but to the people and place that made them what they are. It takes a lot of sticktoitiveness to resist the call of overseas labor and continue to manufacture domestically.  I also left with the feeling that my life was not complete without a perfectly worn-in Perfecto leather motorcycle jacket. Schott Bros. Inc has been making quality outerwear for motorcyclists and military men in the New York City area since 1913 when Irving Schott founded the company on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Still to this day a family run business, Schott is doing what they do best, making a good product at a fair price. So do yourself and your fellow Americans a favor and buy a Perfecto.




Shoemaking in Maine

Jul 13th, 2009 | Categories: Factory Tour, Footwear, Made in the USA, Maine | by Michael Williams

Hand Sewn Shoes | Made in Maine

Jul 13th, 2009 | Categories: Factory Tour, Footwear, Made in the USA, Maine, Style | by Michael Williams

Good things come to those who wait. Back in April I went up to Maine on a top secret mission that I am finally ready to reveal (in two parts) today and tomorrow. As you would guess my mission was shoe based, to go to a factory specializing in hand sewn shoes and document everything while my friend worked out the details for a very special collection of shoes that I will reveal for the first time tomorrow.


I have gone to lengths to show as much of the play-by-play as I could without giving away what brands were being manufactured. (Out of respect for the factory owners who were gracious enough to allow me to poke around.) It was my first time in a shoe factory in Maine and the workers seemed either curious as to my presence or decidedly ambivalent. The shoe making process from start to finish seems fairly straight-forward, workers prepare the leather and operate the pneumatic press to cut the various components. Those pieces and parts are shuttled down the line on wooden racks to a series of people who assemble sections until the shoes start to take shape. Eventually the leather parts make their way to a group of hand sewers who work diligently and skillfully to guide their three-inch needle back and forth until the signature moccasin toe is complete. After the hand sewers are finished, the shoes are attached to their soles — either with adhesive or sewn on — touched up, inspected and packaged. It looks fairly simple, but the process requires a great deal of skill and leather experience. Photos of the shop and some seriously good looking shoes after the jump.