Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Serving Communities

I am spending some time journaling tonight, thinking about the reasons of why this apparel company exists. Like any business, or endeavor, we always start something with great intentions and visions, but the little daily things and the grind, and bottom line, easily cloud us, and bring us to areas that can lose sight of the big picture.

I spoke with a few friends in Chattanooga the past few days, and they were sharing about a factory in Ecuador. Villages in the country are often known for specific manufacturing, possible silver, or denim, or wood crafts. The villagers can often work in one area and specialize in products or processes.

He mentioned that a factory in one town is offering fare trade wages, and conditions for their workers, but are around 30% operating capacity. They are great at creating denim and corduroy.

I don't know when its feasible to offer jeans, and corduroy shirts, I hope soon. But I really had a vision in listening to the village of hoping on a plane, and walking through the town, and seeing the factory. The thought of giving back, whether it be helping to aid in production lines and helping salaries, or giving back by working on a project the locals need. But pouring into those communities. Serving and meeting their needs, as they work to meet ours.

The world is flat. And because of that, we have opportunities to reach out, and serve one another. When I was exploring a few months ago, unserved and unmet needs that were out in countries today, one of the areas I discovered was micro-finance. Helping serve the poor by offering them small loans to start new ventures and businesses. I was heading down that road, and very interested, when one friend at Excellence in Giving named Al said, "the problem with micro-lending is that 70% of people are just looking for a job, not necessarily gifted at starting something on their own. He said, if you really want to help people, in developing countries, own a factory, and employ people.

It was an eye opening thought. While I love new ventures and start-ups, the majority of people did not necessarily have those gifts. it made sense.

I dont necessarily see this company as owning plants or manufacture facilities, but I love the idea that maybe we can offer a few more hours of work to people in need. if that continues, we can offer a few more. maybe the best way to alleviate poverty was to offer employment, or work for them. but not just slave wages, but through good supervisors, and an honorable boss.

I was reminded tonight of that desire. to bring together the consumer with the manufacture. the people. for us to be serving one another, whether it be a living wage for a durable product. one exchange for another. we need to be more connected to each other.

I would love to see Buffalo & Company meet the needs of many people. and I hope in our social action and values, that be one of our greatest beliefs. capitalism and manufacturing and overseas production can be good for us all. and while I am quite the naive person, I look forward to getting on a plane to discover what part we could play as a company.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A man or a woman? Or does it matter?

Should clothes be specific to a man or a woman? It is pretty easy to move to the sexism stance if you even consider some clothes are made for different genders these days, this article from the NY Times would suggest. Current styles are moving to either sex is fine. Even some companies are making neutral gender clothes... like American Apparel.

Read this article from the New York Times about the current trend about gender blending.

But I think clothes are to fit over the body, and the body speaks to its function. And its use. I believe God created our bodies for similar things and different things. A baby boy, last time I checked, is still coming out of mommy with a penis. And a girl, those girls parts. While the culture might be blending those, I am pretty hopeful that while we can change up behaviors and styles, aint no one getting in the womb, and messing with those parts. They are in the DNA. Designed by God.

So what is my hope is change for men, and clothes? Is it a new style? Is it people waking up? Well, my hope is maybe as Freudianism as they get. Men still have a penis. And while these latest jeans out there are trying to get a man to tuck it in, and twist it around, and make it limp, to put on a pair of tight women's jeans, the hope for a man is what still dangles there. and one of these days, he is going to figure out what he could use it for. not just sex, but stepping forward as a man, initiating, leading, being a strength to his family, to his communities, and to the world that needs him to rise up.

I believe the function of man is written from his body, to his sperm swimming forward to be received into a women. there is action. movement. strength.

The problem is that for the last so many years, maybe the history of the world, man has taken that and used it for evil. he has raped. stolen. violated. and everything under God's name he has committed to try and prove it. no wonder women wanted to cut our things off. look what we did with what he were given as a boy.

I'd like to think we could offer a good version of this again. much like clothes. re-introduce american and men to the value of masculine clothes and help them understand their use.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Following Trends

Have you been watching any commercials? There is one that caught my attention. Gap. They have a pretty catchy commercial promoting plaids, and reds, with all their models dancing around in flannel.

Gap is one of those trend setters. They tell us what to wear. They are saying... in their commercial. go buy this.

Well, I find it qutie ironic that I dont have to go out this year to buy their trend. its already in my closet. flannel has been in there for awhile, and I have been wearing it. which made me ask the question, am I a trend setter? or wait, am I behind it?

I just find it so interesting that the lumberjack look is in style. this year. but wait, wear it next year, and oh, that was so last year. its cool today, not tomorrow.

but I got some news for you. it wasn't cool back then, it just was. it was what you wore. not because it was trendy, but because it worked. it was functional. it kept you warm, and for many of the farmers in England and Whales many years ago, it served its purpose.

all to say, I will keep wearing it. not b/c its a dang fad, or b/c a bunch of jummping gap models are telling me to do it. I am going for it, because its classic, traditional, my relatives wore it, and dang it, so will I. because I like it. trendy or not. its classic. real.

while trends will go in and out of style, i think i'd rather stick with what is tried and true. so, gap, yes. thanks for the flannel and plaid suggestions. but sorry, i am already stocked up. and when it comes back around in 10 years or so, I will still have it to, still wearing it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Why are we starting a clothing company?

It is interesting to think about the question of why am I doing this? And maybe ultimately the question, with our reps, and guys involved, are we doing this?

As I work on the business plan, there is the obvious questions, the bottom line. But one of the things I must confess is I am not a big fashion guy. I really dont spend a ton of money on clothes, and my wife has to remind me to put gel in my hair at times, or remind me, I need to dress up, or pick out some good clothes.

So why start a clothing company? It doesn't seem to be a great fit. Considering that. Didn't get schooled in fashion design, don't have the latest trends, or shop at the mall that much. I really am not up on all the clothes.

But I think that is why I like stepping in this role. As I research, and explore other clothing companies, I feel like they are a bit vain, a bit selfish, a bit into themselves. They wear the coolest, and newest, and they know what to bring to market.

I think the best people to be involved in Buffalo & Company are not all these fashion people. But men. Men who want a good product, want classic looks, and want to feel like a man and be proud. Men who really dont spend hours looking at men's fashion catalogs, or care about the next trend in 6 months. I think that is what ties us together. We are dudes. Men with a pair of balls. We aren't supposed to know the latest trend, or forecast what styles will be in, or feel that comfortable putting on a pink shirt. We are supposed to care, but not to that degree.

I think that is the beauty of our developing product lines. We don't have to look to the future. But step into the past. Of men, of our heritage. we dont need to reinvent clothes. just bring guys back to the roots of it all. I would much rather be Teddy Roosevelt, Jefferson, Shackleton, Lewis & Clark, then the majority of the men in this culture today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Classic Men's Wear losing its ties?

I just read an article about the loss of dress in american males. It seems the current trend is to dress down, then dress up. At Buffalo & Company, we see there is a need for both. A man in a flannel. A man in a nice suit. We believe in the balanced man. There is a time for both. John Adams was a politician, but also a farmer. So was Jefferson.

They would spend the morning farming, and then ride into Washington on horseback in a formal setting. This article shows the decline of a man and his belief in the formal.

Wall Street Journal Article Here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The time out elk hunting

We returned last week from our time in the Sangre De Cristo Mountain range. We hunt with the Smith family, who from our count, has been going there for over 30 years. A group of men up to around 25 or so, had been with them over the years. Many have come and gone, and others have filled in their place.

I took a picture of our tent here...

I think why I love being in the tent is because it is old. And it has real dirt. Real dust. And real wear and tear. Its our cook tent over the trip. We come in and out in the early mornings, and the evenings for meals, and between hunting. It feels a bit like a holy of holy. Why? Well, because all these men, over all these years have been part of it. The age, and the brown color is proof. It is nice to be in something that is not aged, pre-ripped, or pre-torn, but just wears itself for its true age, and its character.

We have a little saying on each box we deliver that says something similar. that we aren't pre-fraying, pre-fading, no rips, tears, or holes made up. We wouldn't disrespect you like that. thats your job to wear it into that, not ours.

An aged wine, or aged scotch, is like an aged shirt. But you can't speed up the process. It has to happen naturally, and in time. much like growing into a man. I wish there was a one time event, or happening that could make us into that, but reality is, its going to take some time. much like the tent. but thats what makes it worth it. and why it means so much. it is honest, authentic, and an original. yes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Into The Woods

A group of us at Training Ground are heading down south, and west into the mountains near the Sangre de Christo Range.

I think there are about 22 of us total. Young and old. Experience and unexperienced. A few men who have been hunting for 30 years at this one spot, that we have the great opportunity of being invited into. 6 days of hunting elk, campfires, chopping wood, huge canvas tents, and the brotherhood and community of it all. There is something beautiful about the old canvas tents that have seen many years of wear and tear.

Nothing pre-faded, or dirtied for a look. The stove is not a new stainless steel grill, it was made by Richard and Earl a long time ago from a stove top. So was the custom fireplace grill that hoists down onto the fire with a pulley system invented by Richard himself. Not a big deal to him. that is just what you do. what you make of what you got.

I love being around these men. something fresh. authentic. male, and honest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Napkin Inspiration

I had a small musing last night in my sleep. I wrote it down here on this napkin. Its rather blurry, but I think its readable.

It seems for the last many years, we have thought that clothes and fashion for men was the smaller circle. All the companies competed for that version of the market. They made symbols and designed images that all kind of fit in the same circle while trying to be a little diverse and unique, separating themselves from the others.

But if you take a wide view, they all seem to speak to the same thing. I wonder if one of the problems is they are in to small a circle? What if the range of a man is larger in scope than they expected?

I feel as if Buffalo & Company is breaking away from the norms of icons, symbols, and traditions to re-think what a man needs in his clothes. We are in the exploring stages. But I have to ask, do we need more doileys on our jeans? One more tight shirt? Or another logo with a symbol of a boat? I think people are getting tired of being so cramped in a small circle of what a man is supposed to wear and be today.

I want to think the world of a man, like the world of clothes, needs to open up and catch some wide open air again. Take a breather. Or maybe a long walk somewhere in the outdoors. Not near a mall. Or a cramped city street.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More than clothes.

It is an odd thing to be starting an apparel company, when months ago, that wasn't any great ambition or dream. It wasn't a 10 year goal. But what I have always been passionate about is with helping guys grow, spiritually, emotionally, and to help them become the men they are to be.

I needed that help in college, and beyond. I have had the fortunate experience of being around some great men, and had the experience of men teaching me in areas from business to the wilderness, and from that, have grown in a desire to build, and re-think ideas like clothes. Clothes for men. Clothes that represent something much beyond their colors or symbols. But we need that too.

I spent the evening branding buffalo leather on hang tags, and punching the holes for the leather string for the shirts with my wife watching the Yankees and now the Rockies. There is something honest about doing the ground work, and I am excited about these tags getting onto the clothes that I hope will make people think about what they wear. Maybe I can bless it like the pope does with some baptismal masculinity water or something. It is fun to anticipate what these shirts and this company and the young men that join in its vision, can help grow and do.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A new symbol, An Old Way of Life

I was watching the National Parks Series by Ken Burns tonight. Two great men, John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, who had much to do with the preserving of our great monuments and national landmarks of today. I think what I loved about Teddy Roosevelt is that he was a political man, with refinement, class, and persuasion to the general public, but when he had the chance, he left it all to go out into the wilderness, or even after his presidency down the dangerous Amazon.

He is not a perfect man. But he went from a dandified city boy in the high society of New York to the badlands of South Dakota. He was in some ways, in search of himself, and his home. Was it in the city? In the wide open fields of the west? Or was it somewhere in between?

We are missing men like that today. It seems there are city boys, and metrosexual styles that speak to only one side of a man. As some might say, the feminine side. I don't discount it. I think we need it. But what about the other side? I think we have bought into too much of the marketers of the east coast. We need in some ways a symbol to bring us back. Back to our roots. To our heritage. And to the men who knew how to wake up in the morning, and go farm their land, like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, and later that day sign a bill in the halls of Congress. Balanced men. Yeah, where did all that go?

I think that is my hope. Somehow in a clothing line we might wake up a group of people to re-think and explore their symbol, and in that, themselves.