I love that and they were just gorgeous. Gary told me the history how they were founded in
1927 by his grandfather. This is where my roots come in as a third-generation Jewish
family a design driven business. I said, ‘hey I’m the grandson of a Jewish founder who’s
a control freak. Like you I moved to Cleveland to be part of a family business and
struggled to have a voice in the business. My intuition is good and that was Gary’s
experience. I said let’s get lunch. I wanted to talk to him about being a third generation
legacy family.”
Ohio Knitting Mills Is America’s New Entrepreneurial Frontier of
Reinvention and Reclamation
Steven saw a perfect opportunity and as he said, “What Ohio Kitting Mills has come to
represent is a wonderful happenstance is when I met Gary and found out that he had a
huge collection of sweaters from the 40s that he didn’t know what to do with and maybe I
had some ideas. He hired me to do some consulting and marketing for him. To him the
problem meant selling things. I came back to him and said my advice to him again this is
an example of creating opportunity. I said, ‘I think you’re sitting on a gold mine. The raw
DNA of a fabulous, unbelievable, potentially monster of an apparel brand call it Ohio
Knitting Mills.’ He said, ‘huh?’ He said, ‘I’ve been doing it for 41 years if you think it’s so
great why don’t you do it?’ We worked it out.”
Levis Would Be The Perfect Fit
Serendipity is not enough to make something happen. It requires taking the baton and
moving on the initiative. When I was with Steven, he fielded a phone call from Levis and
notes, “this is a close friend and he’s a director there. He called to see if I could send him a
few copies of the book because he wanted to show it to the head of the men’s division
he thinks the time is right to revisit. My attitude is that they’re about pure Americanism. I’m
about pure Americanism. They’re developing a new direction in their marketing narrative.
They have discovered the new frontier and the new frontier in the post Industrial America
is in our cities. The new frontiers are not the Wild West. It’s not the Gold Rush which was
the origin of Levis. What can we discover in the left behinds? What is it in our cities and
urban places and our former industrial places in the manufacturing that is beautiful? Yes
it’s neglected but it’s not something to throw away. This is our soul. This is the essence of
who we are. We need to embrace it -- put it back together and put our future together.
This is the heart of this huge movement toward Americana and heritage labels.”
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