Start It Up

American Trench

It's a classic entrepreneurial move—when Jacob Hurwitz and David Neill couldn't find an American-made trench coat, they decided to manufacture one themselves. After doing some homework, finding a great Italian outerwear fabric and a domestic manufacturer, the two set up a Kickstarter to help fund their venture. And with just six days to go, they've already exceeded their goal. After three prototypes and a few samples, the result is a classic mac-style jacket with a removable hood, glen plaid lining and a convenient pocket for your smart phone. We caught up with Jacob and David to find out a little more about their campaign:

 
Trench coats are more of a British and French heritage item than American, why did you choose to reinterpret such a classic silhouette?

Jacob: In the summer of '09, I took a trip to London with my wife and—when in the land of rain, do as the locals do—bought a trench coat. Later that fall, David and I were saying that we wanted to make things in America, to support American workers, and the question was asked, 'who is the leader in US made rain wear? Who makes trench coats?' No one. London Fog dominated the market for a long time, but essentially went under in the '90s. Filson makes outdoor products, not the classic city trench coat. We also liked the metaphor of being in the trenches. We needed to dig out. So we said, we'll make a trench coat. We started with a Mac style because we like clean lines. The funny part is at each step, from muslin mock-up and pattern making to the production sample, they all said to us, 'you picked the most complicated garment we've ever made. Why don't you do something a little easier?' We just shrugged our shoulders and said, 'We want to make this, can you do it?'

 
 
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    The fabric is made by Olmetex of Italy. The densely woven Egyptian cotton was developed for British pilots during WWII, to survive the chilly temps of the North Atlantic seas.
You went through a lot of fabrics and treatments initially before choosing the DWR-coated H20 protector ... Why cotton instead of a waterproof synthetic?

David: From the start, we didn't want to use waterproof synthetics. We were after a fabric that looked really rich and had depth. Also, a 100% cotton fabric like H20 Protector breathes so well, because its cotton. When synthetic fabrics get wet, they can get pretty sweaty. The DWR coating is a modern touch—something that increases the performance without decreasing the look, feel or breathability. It bonds to each cotton fiber, instead of filing in the spaces between them, and helps the water bead up easier. Adding it was a no-brainer.

You've said the coats and socks are the first step in a larger battle, so what's next?

Jacob: We're working on other forms of outerwear, such as a field jacket, and looking into quilted jackets. Our factory in New Jersey has some awesome machinery that we are excited to experiment with. On the smaller items front, we are almost finished developing a cable knit hat made from yarn spun in Maine. The other big thing is that we got connected to a guy who did textile R&D for a famous textile factory in New England. He retired and now spends his time working on projects that are "interesting" to him. He was intrigued by what we were doing and we're looking to develop some textiles with him. He's also going to help us try to make the H20 Protector in the USA as well.

 

Back the Project

Since they've met their goal, pledging $725 will net you a trench. $25-65 gets you a few pairs of socks,
and $150 gets you a button-in liner for the coat.

(End Date: Wednesday, January 30th at 12:44 pm ET)

 

Published on

January 24, 2013

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