Posted March 06, 2013
Only 24 hours left to enter our Shattered! Contest on Facebook to win one of three handmade leather iPhone cases. To raise the stakes we've decided to include a special edition piece custom made by Jill Harrell of Scabby Robot. Sewn from a single piece of rich, brown leather, this case features the lot number stamp from the tannery in a prominent position. One of a kind and sized for the new iPhone 5, this case adds original styling to the ubiquitous Apple design.
Visit our Facebook page to read up on your competition and submit your own entry before Thursday's noon Pacific deadline. Voting begins immediately following the end of the submission period and the winners will be announced next Friday, March 15th.
Pick up a piece from Scabby Robot or any of our talented American designers today and get 10% off your purchase with the coupon code OOPS.
Posted March 04, 2013
Only a few days left to enter our Shattered! Contest on Facebook. We added some great entries over the weekend, including a Johnny Dangerously-style story of a smartphone protecting its owner, and a poem recounting Poseidon's thirst for the latest in touchscreen technology.
As a reminder, we're giving away three handmade leather iPhone cases in the color and size of your choice to the most popular entries. Share your story of smartphone woe before noon Pacific this Thursday to be eligible.
For those of you unwilling to go another day with a naked iPhone, we're also offering 10% off iPhone cases (and everything we sell) during the life of the contest. Enter coupon code OOPS to take advantage of the savings today.
Posted February 04, 2013
With Valentine's Day almost upon us it's time to zero in on the perfect gift, and our Valentine's Day collection is full of great ideas. A favorite of Fog + Foundry customers is the Bit of Luck Horseshoe Necklace. Precious metal is handshaped and hammered into a petite horseshoe and suspended from a sterling silver chain ends up - perfect for catching good luck.
Individually handmade by San Francisco designer Natasha Grasso, this modern take on a classic jewelry style is offered in three finishes and two chain lengths. Easy to wear and easy to integrate with any wardrobe, the Bit of Luck Necklace will become a staple of her jewelry collection.
Posted January 31, 2013
Photo credit: Woolrich archives
Last year we saw some big-name brands dip a toe in the water of American manufacturing. Google produced its Nexus Q home media player at a plant in Silicon Valley and Apple announced a $100 million investment in domestic manufacturing for their desktop computers. Both moves had a whiff of opportunism to them - massive tech brands seizing upon a trend.
In perhaps a more organically-inspired move, 182-year-old outdoor clothing brand Woolrich announced its own commitment to reviving the company's American-made roots. In an open letter from president Nicholas P. Brayton, Woolrich not only broadcasts an intention to re-shoring production of its garments but outlined specific milestones:
Toward this end, Woolrich is setting three significant domestic manufacturing goals for our mill, for our customers, and for our brand.
1. To increase the yardage of wool produced in our woolen mill by 50% in 2013.
2. To introduce a 100% American-made apparel collection in Fall 2013.
3. To increase our American-made product offerings by 2015, ensuring that more than 50% of Woolrich Woolen garments proudly include American-made wool.
We've identified two elements that suggest that Woolrich will succeed with this initiative. The first is their expertise - Woolrich operates the longest continually running mill in the country. They understand the challenges associated with domestic manufacturing as well as any company. The second is the brand's positioning - the Woolrich customer is an ideal audience for American-made products. The garment style, construction quality and brand heritage are integral components of the brand's allure to customers. To the Woolrich customer the domestic provenance is worth more than the price premium.
From the red Buffalo check flannel shirt to Woolly hiking socks, the brand's Americana roots run deep, and customers respond to that narrative. Developing that story also feeds the virtuous cycle of identity and accountability, further strengthening Woolrich's chances for success. We'll be following this story and look forward to learning from Woolrich's experiences.
Posted January 28, 2013
Our Valentine's Day gift guide is overflowing with great gift suggestions for your main squeeze. From delicate jewelry that's as unique as her, to hand-crafted leather goods that improve with age as much as he does, we've got something that suits your budget and your intentions.
Bit of Luck Horseshoe Necklace, $70
Let her know how lucky you feel to have her as your Valentine with this classic necklace. Handcrafted by San Francisco designer Natasha Grasso, the Bit of Luck Horseshoe Necklace is handshaped and handstamped from 14k gold fill.
Leather iPhone 5 Case, $30
If the second-most important lady in his life is Siri, help him treat her right with this modern leather accessory. The Leather iPhone 5 Case by San Francisco brand Scabby Robot is crafted from supple, soft leather.
Crimson Red Retro Berries Plate, $30
For the host with thoroughly modern taste, this handbuilt Crimson Red Retro Berries Plate from Hope Johnson is inspired by mid-century modern design and is sure to enliven the dinner party spread.
Posted January 24, 2013
Photo credit: iFixit
In December Apple announced its intentions to begin moving production of its computers stateside, committing to a $100 million investment. Not long ago Steve Jobs threw cold water on the idea that Apple would ever manufacture its hardware in America again. His replacement, Tim Cook, seemed more wishful (if not wistful) about domestic production. The turnaround was quick and has provoked a new series of rumors and prognostications about the company's future.
The prevailing thought on The Street had been that Cook's announcement was an attempt to create some good news in advance of yesterday's earnings report. And with the way the company's stock has dipped, it's fair to say that the market wanted more than that. In fact, the hope was that the bubble would go on. However, as a Bernstein Research analyst noted in a recent report, were Apple to continue at the growth rate of the previous half decade, in five years its revenue would reach $1.2 trillion - equivalent to the GDP of Australia. It's fair to say that a correction was due and that spurring growth through innovating their existing products and practices will be a key part of their strategy.
An interesting detail from yesterday's earnings call was that the 20% drop in Mac sales over last year's period was
attributed, in part, to manufacturing constraints on the revamped iMac line. For all the heat that Chinese manufacturing facilities such as Foxconn take, their ability to keep the supply chain full was never in question. Production constraints don't bode well for a supply chain already facing certain increases in labor and shipping costs.
The initial speculation had called for Apple's prosumer model, the Mac Pro, to wear the Made in USA label. Its $3,000 price tag offers more room to absorb the increased labor costs, at 40 pounds it's 160 times the weight of an iPhone and it's the only Apple computer that sells fewer than 1 million units per year. It also fits the existing narrative of American manufacturing limiting itself to high end consumer electronics, such as Binghamton, NY based McIntosh.
It's difficult to envision a company making a $100 million investment in manufacturing a niche product though, even one with coffers as deep as Apple's. With Apple's latest generation of iMacs with "Assembled in the USA" emblazoned on the rear already in consumers' hands, and the rumor mill adding the Mac Mini to the discussion, there's potential for a much larger manufacturing commitment in Apple's future. A mix of higher cost and higher sales velocity models could create the opportunity for Apple to reach economies of scale in American manufacturing, which just might qualify as their boldest innovation yet.
Posted January 23, 2013
Photo credit: ecouterre
We’ve talked several times in this space about big companies such as Google and Apple that aren’t traditionally associated with American manufacturing getting in on the trend.
This week brings news that the biggest retail beast of them all, Walmart, is looking towards America again. In a keynote speech before a National Retail Federation conference in New York, Walmart CEO Bill Simon guaranteed that “Walmart will buy an additional $50 billion in U.S. products over the next ten years by increasing what we already buy here and by helping to on-shore U.S. production in high potential areas.”
While $50 billion is certainly a huge number, according to this article in the New York Times, this comes to only 1.5% of their yearly spend on product over this time period. Considering that Walmart has been using some dubious math for more than a year to support the claim that the majority of their product is USA Made, you might be right to question the motives behind the announcement. On the one hand, it’s $50 billion!
What do you think? Is this a PR gimmick? Is it step in the right direction? Or perhaps it’s both?
Regardless of the true reason behind this announcement, the reality is that it will take the support of big companies like Walmart to truly shift the conversation and we’re glad to see them on board. Now the trick is to keep them there.
Posted December 12, 2012
Jill Harrell is the designer behind the Scabby Robot brand and has been handcrafting her line of leather goods since 2006. She invited us into her studio last month to see one of our favorite products brought to life. The Leather iPhone 5 Case is crafted from a single piece of high-quality leather, cut and sewn by Harrell herself, then reinforced with a handstamped corner rivet.
Thanks to subtle variations in each piece of leather and how it is cut from the hide, every case has its own look. Over time the leather will wear and develop a personality unique to its user, much like selvedge denim. The case is available in four different colors and can be sized to fit any version of the iPhone.
Posted November 27, 2012
Photo credit: Fog + Foundry
We've seen a marked increase in enthusiasm for American made goods over the last year, but the ring of the cash register isn't quite harmonizing with that enthusiasm yet. One notable exception is the "buy local" movement. At first motivated by health and nutrition, then spurred by environmental concerns, over the last decade buying local has become a natural decision.
The benefits of buying local are varied and lasting. Keeping dollars in a community means more jobs (as small business employs more people and a small business is more likely to turn new revenue into new jobs) and more tax revenue. Perhaps even more powerfully, dollars spent locally help to shape the identity of that community, as they reward innovation and diversity.
The success of the relationship between the local consumer and the local merchant is tied to two qualities: identity and accountability. A consumer wants to know the person behind the product, and with that relationship established, the merchant wants to guarantee that product.
The spirit of buying local is inherent in what we do at Fog + Foundry, even though our customers are spread across the USA. With the rise of the internet communities are no longer limited by geography. A community can be bound by a shared point of view. That's why it's important to us to nurture that virtuous cycle of identity and accountability. The commentary we provide, the profiles of our craftsmen, the studio tours - they all aim to bring you closer and to help establish that identity. For those who shop with us, both the craftsman and Fog + Foundry are accountable for every purchase.
One of the most compelling reasons to buy American made goods is the opportunity to give a unique gift - something that's hand made for your loved one. That process takes a little time, though, so to reward you for shopping early we're offering free shipping on every item in the store this week. Place your order by November 30th and enter the code EARLYBIRD to apply the discount.
Posted November 08, 2012
Photo credit: Shinola.com
Despite having most of its brand equity tied to that old expression, the Shinola name is being revived by a team from Bedrock Manufacturing as a label for their American-made line of watches, bicycles and leather goods.
The decision wasn't a capricious one. By linking their goods to a brand name from a seemingly bygone era, they conjure up memories of a time when products were built to last, rather than to be replaced. Launching the brand in Detroit creates another psychological link - to American workers who take pride in their craft and are valued as key contributors.
Housed in the historic Argonaut building, the art deco former home of General Motors' research laboratory, Shinola's workspace was uncovered serrendipitously on a visit to the College for Creative Studies, whose students handled much of Shinola's brand identity. Their watchmaking facility was outfitted by Ronda AG, a master of the Swiss tradition of independent movement timepieces. Local workers were also trained by Ronda, and the factory's capacity is expected to allow the production of 500,000 watches annually.
With a design school for neighbors, Swiss heavyweights for partners and a brand name with a historical legacy, the Shinola team has carved out an impressive narrative on their way to the marketplace. Their first watches will be available in early 2013 and will retail between $400 and $800. Shortly thereafter expect to see their American-made bicycles built on hand-welded frames from Wisconsin and notebooks made in partnership with a Michigan bookmaker. Rounding out their assortment are leather goods from wallets to laptop cases to backpacks.
As we've noted in the past, persuading consumers to spend more for American-made products is among the biggest challenges facing domestic manufacturers. By building on a foundation of quality craftsmanship Shinola is well positioned to capture the interest of conscious consumers with a new heritage brand.