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The reemergence of U.S.-based apparel manufacturing has some defining characteristics, such as a concentration on premium garments and relatively small runs.
Consider Boathouse Sports, whose founder and owner John Strotbeck started his business as a way to make ends meet in the 1980s when he was an Olympic rower with The Vesper Boat Club & the U.S. National Team. Strotbeck's original line was limited to producing apparel for rowing enthusiasts; hence the name Boathouse Sports. Today, Boathouse employs 250 associates who design and manufacture performance apparel for teams nationwide and abroad. Strotbeck points to the premium nature of his custom product, his short production runs and his Philadelphia factory's blistering manufacturing speed of just 3.5 days from the time a cut ticket is released until an order is in the box as the keys to Boathouse's success.
"To manufacture apparel in the U.S. and make a profit, you need a niche, a unique audience and a specific skill set or core competency," Strotbeck says. "Ours is mass customization of athletic wear, short runs and speed. We offer mass customization at its best."
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