Josh Walker and Ted De Innocentis, Co-Founders of 1620 Workwear, Inc., discuss their launch of comfortable, durable, quality, indoor and outdoor workwear Made in the USA for skilled labor, craftsman, military, and police, and discerning individuals who want workwear that will last for years, available at 1620usa.com
Episode 602: Comfortable, USA Quality Workwear
Mr. Lewis Weiss is Host of Manufacturing Talk Radio and President of All Metals & Forge Group, the principal sponsor of the show. He has 60 years in the metals industry as a manufacturer of open die forgings and seamless rolled rings, running a business that sells forged products globally to OEMs, major manufacturers, mid-size first- and second-tier suppliers, and small metalworking companies. Lewis Weiss puts his experience in manufacturing to good use as an expert consultant on various TV and radio programs nationwide.
Mr. Tim Grady is an Executive Producer and Co-host of Manufacturing Talk Radio. He brings more than 25 years of knowledge as a senior strategist and business advisor to companies of all sizes in more than thirty industries, advising them on revving up revenues, macro and micro marketing, strategic selling, organization optimization, website ergonomics, data mining, and other external or internal factors that can accelerate or impede business operations and net profit.
Josh Walker and Ted De Innocentis
We started 1620 to make the best workwear in the category. To give hard- working skilled laborers the product they deserve and have been looking for. For years we watched our family and friends working in outdated, cotton, and canvas gear that didn’t fit and functioned poorly on the job. Cheap products that actually caused fatigue and made their lives harder. By using best in class fabrics, patterns, and making all our products in America, 1620 has reinvented what workwear should be.
We had known each other for over a decade before we started 1620. We met through working in the snowsports industry while josh was at BERN unlimited and Ted was working for KJUS Skiwear in the mid 2000’s. We were both part of the younger generation of the snowsports industry and our paths crossed enough that we ended up becoming friends. Over time we realized that our skill sets complimented each other and we thought that possibly when the time was right we would find something to work together on. When Ted left to work in a garment factory in Mainland China in 2010, we knew it was going to be a master class in operating and supply chain and talked about regrouping a few years down the road when we both had more global experience and perspective into different consumer brands. We finally reconnected at ISPO in early 2014 where we had a couple of late nights brainstorming about the possibilities of starting our own business. Over the next year we kept in contact, still on different continents but we bounced one idea after another around. Ted came home for thanksgiving in 2014 and bought a pair of Carhartt’s on his way to go deer hunting in Maine, and though they fit in the dressing room, they were totally unwearable, even around camp. Much to his dismay he couldn’t believe that the North American Workwear market was still reliant on product that actually made the working man’s job more difficult when there have been so many recent advancements in fabric technology. Jump forward a few months to ISPO 2015 and we reconnected with each other with a new set of business ideas. We both realized we were tired of the recreation industry and how weather dependent it was and how wasteful the seasonality aspect of it was, where there was a huge amount of frontloaded effort to design new collections every season, which were sold into such a short sell cycle and then ultimately discounted a few months later. We wanted to approach a category that we predicted weas heading into a strong growth phase, and that was prime for disruption. Also, we saw a real opportunity to use modern fabric technology to make the best workpant in the market and create the premium brand in a space that was going the other direction in quality and price. As we started talking to the guys around us and in our circle, there was such a huge level of dissatisfaction with current workwear options, so we built a plan and got to work bring 1620 to the market.
Our background’s really help us manage this business in unique ways. Teds experience in China managing the value chain of an OEM supplier for some of the most technical apparel in the world gave him a behind the scenes look and he used pattern recognition to understand how the best apparel brands operate from product assortment, to supply chain to sustainability. Ted’s biggest customer while in China was the largest Workwear brand in Europe that was very successful bringing fabrics from alpine sports, mountaineering and the military and combining them with modern apparel construction techniques which gave further insight into what best workwear brand in Europe was doing. Josh’s background disrupting the protective headwear market making helmet’s cool in the mid 2000’s when wearing a helmet was the antithesis of cool. Josh has great perspective first from disrupting that industry, then seeing it transform over a decade to the point where wearing a helmet was uncool. Josh has been able to create a brand that resonates with the core consumer and build a cult following around a product category (workwear) that was old, stale and hadn’t seen much innovation in 70 years.
Skilled work matters. These men and women charge a premium for what they do. It’s time they had clothing that represented their values and helped them be more productive on the job. You can always buy cheaper workwear, but you can’t buy better. 1620 is the only premium, American-made workwear brand. And we are championing a long-maligned person in our society, who now more than ever can afford to wear better made, and longer lasting clothing for their job
Ted De Innocentis
With 17 years of experience in apparel, the last five of which were spent living and working in a garment factory in Mainland China, Ted brings unparalleled experience in technical product creation, supply chain and manufacturing operations. Teds customers during His time in China included Arc’teryx the world leader in premium technical outdoor apparel and Englebert Strauss a German based direct to consumer workwear brand.
- 20 Years Experience in technical apparel Sourcing, development and production
- 5 years living in Mainland China working for industry leading OEM Apparel factory
- Managed planning, sourcing & product development cycles for 1800+ technical apparel styles annually
- Managed Purchasing and merchandising for 4.5M garments annually
- Responsible for staff of 70+ Chinese Nationals in 3 departments
- Helped grow KTC business 20% annually by increasing development efficiency and on time material delivery, while reducing overhead and improving on time delivery to customer
- Managed $40M+ in raw material procurement annually & quality control with $0 commercial loss over five years
- Developed and implemented custom ERP modules to improve supply chain planning and achieve 99% on time delivery to customer
- Customers included Arc’teryx, Rapha, MUSTO, Fjallraven, Englebert Strauss, Aether, Mammut
A founding member of the protective headwear brand Bern Unlimited (est) 2004), Josh is known throughout the industry as a pioneer of grassroots marketing in action sports. His outside the box strategies and event based activations helped Bern grow to become one of the most well-known brands in action sports. When Bern was growing and had very little capital resources Josh was able to successfully leverage the brand equity he created to build a loyal team of 100+ athletes including multiple Olympic and x-games gold medalists, helping make head protection the category it is today
- A proven entrepreneur & brand builder with extensive experience and relationships in consumer apparel and goods and the creative people that create the elite content, for the top global brands.
- Successfully built an 8 figure international business/brand – distributed in 45 countries – from scratch.
- Implemented and Managed strategic marketing campaigns, over multiple categories that resulted in 40%+ growth YOY – For 7 Consecutive Years.
- Part of lead development team on all of Bern’s original 12 helmet models. Acted as direct conduit from design/engineering/manufacturing to the athelte/end user. (largely credited for changing the entire helmet category.)
- Numerous month long trips to Mainland China, developing new product/categories for Bern Helmets.
- Orchestrated multiple brand collaborations with leading consumer facing brands (Apple, Levis, RedBull, Sony, Vita Coca) that leveraged a garage brand, into global recognition as a category leader.
- Plan, design and execute global marketing media with Creative Services including catalogues, websites, workbooks, advertisements, point of purchase (POP) and sales materials for the US and 45 international distributors.