American Trench, a Philadelphia-based trench coat company, has been raising money to develop its American-made brand through a Kickstarter campaign.
The company, a venture that began between two friends — David Neill and Jacob Hurwitz — who had known each other since childhood, started out with discussions on how they could help the economy in America. Hurwitz reflected on the inspiration that he had drawn from a vacation to London a few summers ago.
“So the basic story is that in the summer of 2009 I went to London with my wife on a vacation and when in Rome, do as Romans do, so when in London where it rains all the time, buy rainwear,” Hurwitz said.
Although the trip Hurwitz took to London later inspired the American-made trench coats that he now produces, the initial idea marked a period of brainstorming and researching for both Neill and Hurwitz who, though experienced in design, had never worked within the fashion industry.
“We’re not from the fashion industry. We don’t have fashion training. We didn’t go to fashion school, so to speak, and in some ways…you don’t have the same kind of training but also it can be an interest, you cannot try to make a new aesthetic,” Hurwitz said. “We’re not trying to make a mark as designers in some new way…in some ways we think that making our unique mark is providing products to the market that aren’t there, that’s unique.”
For Neill and Hurwitz, taking on this new company in addition to their day jobs has been a difficult task with the research and other processes that need to be accounted for when starting a business.
When starting the concept for the company, Neill and Hurwitz had to work out the process from the design itself with a tailor, the materials that they wanted to use for the trench coats, the place where the products would be manufactured in the United States and more.
“[We] went through the same process, really, of contacting manufacturers and basically you have to scratch and claw like a wolverine and find a bunch of things that don’t work out and come up with some that do,” Hurwitz said.
Because American Trench coats cost approximately $725, the company also wanted to introduce less expensive products that maintain the “made in America” status.
The next products that the company sold were socks, both cotton and wool. The company also hopes to soon introduce a cable knit hat to the store.
“A $700 coat is not for everybody. We wanted to make something that is really nice, but not $700,” Hurwitz said.
“Our products are not bargain basement,” Hurwitz added. “Obviously we want to fill in the product range from $16 to $700. That’s how much our products cost, so the people that can afford us are our clients.”
Because the founders of the company are starting this venture from the ground up, the duo has realized that in order for their business to succeed, they need to raise money and get the word out to the public in some way. To do this, the pair launched a Kickstarter campaign with an initial goal of $15,000 in mind.
Since launching the Kickstarter on Dec. 31, the company has exceeded its $15,000 goal and has set a new goal of $20,000 before the fundraiser ends on Jan. 30.
“We’re knocking the door at $17,000 right now,” Hurwitz said on Friday, Jan. 25. “It’s a big, big help. Kickstarter is an amazing tool for entrepreneurs.”
At the time of press, American Trench’s Kickstarter has $17,912 pledged from 114 backers.
The company has received support from not only Philadelphia natives, but also people around the world for its efforts to improve the American economy with American-made goods — even if it does mean that the cost of their products will be higher to account for the quality.
“Some people can help us by buying a $725 trench coat, some people can buy a $25 pair of socks and some people pledge a buck, and even that’s great,” Hurwitz said.
Taylor Farnsworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.