Made In The USA | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2

Mazama Wares

Mar 28th, 2014 | Categories: Made in the USA, Portland Oregon | by Michael Williams

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At the end of a walk through of the Tanner Goods workshop in Portland, co-founder Sam Huff gave me a beautifully-made ceramic coffee mug. It was cold outside and a cup of hot coffee in a nice mug was not something that was overlooked. Sam sort of casually mentioned that he and his wife and a group of others had been working on this new ceramic company and I should check it out. This on top of building the Tanner Goods empire, I was definitely intrigued. What I learned is that the hand-made line of Mazama ceramics is the result of an amalgamation of six designers, artists and craftspeople including Huff, Meghan Wright, Meagan Geer, Tory Cross, Casey Keasler and Connie Wohn. Everything is shaped, fired and glazed in a studio Portland, Oregon.

It’s hard to explain, but fine ceramics have always been intriguing to me. Those in Korea and Japan take this art to the highest heights and it’s hard to go there and not appreciate the beauty, simplicity and craft that goes into their ceramics. Not to say America doesn’t have a strong tradition in ceramics. One of the best known brands is Heath and nearly every time I am in LA I make a point to spend an hour at the company’s shop on Beverly. Most of the time I just go to look, seeing as I thoroughly intrigued by the company’s California-made creations. A few years ago I met Adam Silverman in the studio at Heath and have been a fan of his ever since. I’ve come to appreciate the fact that ceramics occupy an interesting place between art and everyday object.





Putting the “New” in New Balance.

Mar 21st, 2014 | Categories: Footwear, Jake Gallagher, Made in the USA, Menswear, Shoes | by Jake Gallagher

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The Literal Fire – J. Crew Inferno Orange 998

The current New Balance mania that’s cutting through the sneaker world like a Vibram soled tornado has all the makings of a lost Malcolm Gladwell case study. What exactly was the tipping point that launched NB’s from average schmo staple to fodder for the insatiable menswear masses? I’ll leave that one for Gladwell’s next book, but I will say that New Balance has done an exemplary job at embracing their new-found market. Sure, those old school, all grey sneaks that the Costanza’s of the world used to wear still remain their most popular models, but over the past couple years NB has revamped their classic running shoes to create some damn fine, and for that matter, flashy, designs. It seems that every week New Balance seems to drop another “banger” (that’s what sneakerheads are saying these days right?) so we decided to round up the eight best releases of the past year.

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The Throwback – 997 Reissues





Mill Town.

Jan 26th, 2014 | Categories: Made in the USA, Photography | by Michael Williams

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Many of these scenes are familiar and many of these places are known, but that doesn’t make and of this less striking. Photographer Christopher Payne set out to capture the landscapes and workrooms of America’s textile mills and factories. The scenes are intense and colorful, and may very well serve as a time-capsule portrait of an industrial complex which is nearing its last run. These photos and the photographer came to my attention recently through ‘Fruit of the Loom‘, a recent New York Times Magazine photo essay. This textile photo series began when Christopher “stumbled on an old yarn mill in Maine” and was inspired by the old machinery and the small-scale manufacturing that is largely forgotten in America. Payne visits Woolrich in Pennsylvania, New England Shirt in Fall River and various other mills in-between, seeking the beautiful colors and symmetrical scenes that these seeming lost industrial holdovers present.





Mystery Ranch | The Apex of Packs

Jan 9th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Bags, Made in the USA | by Al James

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His name has been mentioned on this site before, but it bears repeating: Dana Gleason. He founded Kletterwerks in the 70s, then created (and eventually sold) the infamous backpack behemoth Dana Design. Since 2000 he’s been designing and hand-building backpacks in Bozeman, Montana under the name Mystery Ranch. They are the best packs he’s ever made and arguably some of the best packs available for purchase. Decades of research and experience go into each model and they are all absolute workhorses. Every Mystery Ranch pack is designed specifically for the unique tasks required of soldiers, firefighters, rescue professionals, hunters and mountain climbers.

This winter I bought a Mystery Ranch ASAP daypack for steelhead fishing in the Northwest. I stared into my closet full of canvas totes, weekend duffels and clever work briefcases and realized I had nothing that was suitable for hiking and bushwhacking into coastal steelhead streams with enough room for a day’s worth of extra layers, a lunch, a first aid kit, fly boxes and other fishing tackle. After a bit of research I landed at Mystery Ranch. What sold me on the ASAP was not only the waterproof 3-Zip design, but also the internal pocket configuration that takes the guess work out of accessing gear when it’s open. It has a built-in large hydration port, a grid of PAL webbing for lashing on an additional rod case and comes in 3 standard sizes and 4 colors options – multicam, black, coyote and foliage.





Making it in America: Artifact Bag Co.

Dec 23rd, 2013 | Categories: Made in the USA, Video | by Michael Williams

There’s an unwritten rule on ACL where I try and make a point of not doing overtly obnoxious blogger things – though I’m sure some find me overtly obnoxious nonetheless. I attempt to avoid posting pictures of myself on this site and I don’t actively post any sort of press coverage that I am fortunate enough to get. Part of the reason I avoid this stuff is because I don’t want this site to be about me per se, I want the focus to be on the truly interesting and deserving people, places and stories that are out in the world. Though recently I have been struggling internally about going against my self-prescribed code to post a video that involves me in a roundabout way. Ultimately, I decided that the benefits for the subject of the video outweigh the possibilities an appearance of a self-congratulatory blogger parade.

Chris Hughes from Omaha, Nebraska struggled himself, though in a much more real way. He grappled with the recession spending the better part of a year being unemployed or underemployed. During this troubling time of his life he started to focus energy making leather goods, bags and aprons on the side. He hoped to transform his hobby into a business and take a massive leap of faith to leave his job with health insurance to work on his company Artifact Bag Co. full time. In December of 2010 he did just that and has been building Artifact ever since. In a TEDx talk in Omaha he recently gave a speech (see video above) about a tweet and our brief encounter that changed his life.





ACL Endorses | Skookum Dog

Dec 1st, 2013 | Categories: Dog, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

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Anyone that reads this site and owns a dog will appreciate this story and this new brand. Having suffered long enough with the limited options of well-made dog gear, the good people of Tom Bihn in Seattle have recently introduced Skookum Dog, its new line of U.S. made collars, leads, beds, bags and toys for man’s best friend. Having personally stood in several pet stores and wished there were not only more domestically sourced options, but simply better-made stuff for dogs that will actually last longer than an afternoon, this new collection is a welcome addition. There are other brands like Filson and Tanner Goods out there that make some great stuff for dogs, but it’s nice to also see Skookum Dog enter the fray.

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The American Varsity Jacket Made in America.

Nov 24th, 2013 | Categories: Made in the USA, Portland Oregon | by Michael Williams

Philadelphia based sporting goods maker Mitchell & Ness highlights the production of its Authentic and highly covet-able on-field varsity jackets and wool jerseys at the family owned knitwear company Dehen in Portland, Oregon. A long time maker of American high school varsity jackets and jerseys, Dehen has been making the real-deal stuff since 1920.

Over the past few years I have had the chance to visit Dehen in Oregon on several occasions to see the factory which includes a few amazing old knitwear machines that make the super heavy-gauge knits that, along with the varsity jackets, are the company’s calling card. Also coming down the production line is quite a bit of custom work from high schools all over the United States, which is how the company has managed to survive this long. The cheer leading and Varsity sports niche production now parallels the Mitchell & Ness Cooperstown Collection items and the stuff Dehen sells under its own name. All I can say is, Fuck Yeah Made in USA.