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Recreating Quality and Made in America with American Giant CEO Bayard Winthrop

Currently almost everything we own is made overseas, mainly in China. In most cases the quality of products have been compromised, and not to mention that the manufacturing industry in America is almost nonexistent. With the birth of American Giant this is all about to change.  American Giant is a startup offering affordable, American-made apparel for men. The company launched at the beginning of February with a line of sweatshirts. After receiving overwhelming positive word-of-mouth, their first shipment sold out in a week! In mid-April the company expanded with the launch of a new t-shirt line.

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of interviewing founder and CEO of American Giant, Bayard Winthrop. Growing up Mr. Winthrop had an interest in finance and focused on getting a job on Wall Street.  After working on Wall Street for a few years he decided to move to San Francisco and transition into the apparel industry. With twenty years of industry experience under his belt, including the position of former CEO of Chrome (A messenger bag company), Bayard Winthrop decided that it was time to start his own company.

When asking Mr. Winthrop what inspired him to start American Giant he stated the following:

  •  Creating a convenient online shopping experience along with a high quality product
  •  Creating the highest quality products by eliminating distribution, marketing and other fees and investing more in fabrics, hardware, etc
  • Being able to fill a void in the market by selling directly to the consumer
  • Creating the desire to support and buy American-made products

The American Giant Brand is marketed through search engine and referral marketing. With these concepts, the most effective has been referral marketing. In complimenting this model American Giant uses a referral program called extole. Extole is the leading social marketing platform for brands to turn consumers into social advocates providing social referrals. Extole has been a tool to drive higher conversions and increase new sales for brands.  The use of this social referral program has become very popular over the last two to three years. Brands that currently use this program extensively include Audi, Kate Spade, Ann Taylor and Net-A-Porter, just to name a few.

The ideal American Giant consumer is:

  • A male 30 year or older
  • Someone who has graduated from fast fashion (such as H&M)
  • Someone who is looking for great quality and fit

American Giant has seen great success with the launch of its sweatshirt line and the newly launched t-shirt line. In expanding, the current focus will remain on the tops category for consumers; therefore, new styles will be released every six to eight weeks. In the future American Giant wants to provide everything that its consumer wears, this includes tops, pants and even briefs.

When you think of American-made and better quality many also associate this with the trendy brand American Apparel. However, American Giant stands alone on the following:

  • Quality and value
  • Overall customer target
  • The use of the Direct Consumer Model

American Giant products are manufactured in San Francisco’s Mission district, right below the showroom. Consumers can purchase products on the American Giant website and at the showroom as well. In the future the company wants to increase its online presence by evolving its website; however the main focus will remain on providing exceptional products and service. The quality of American Giant’s products has been the foundation of its success. Other factors that have added to their success are the use of the social referral platform and products being manufactured in America. 

 Many have said that manufacturing will never return to America, and if it does the cost could be overwhelming to both companies and consumers. Bayard Winthrop has proven this assumption to be wrong. He has managed to offer both high-quality and American-made products to consumers at an affordable price. Hopefully the American Giant brand will inspire other entrepreneurs to step forward and do the same.

By Lolita Alford



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