For Mark Bollman, founder of Ball and Buck, a made-in-America menswear brand, quality counts. He has a true appreciation for the details—small and large—which added up together make for a high-performing company which prizes itself on the quality of its products and its ethical manufacturing practices. Or, as Bollman told me recently, “[Ball and Buck] was kind of created out of this genesis of seeing a gap in the market and seeing so many brands going oversea. So many brands are making things the lowest quality they possibly can to deliver at a price point, and what I saw and what I wanted was something that didn’t look at the price as the first thing. It looked at making the product the best quality.”
It’s all too easy to overlook quality when you need an immediate solution to a problem, Bollman says there is a growing demand from the American consumer to buy goods that not only are made locally, but which represent who the consumer is and align with his or her values, rather than simply being a brand that just solves a need. These mindful consumers, Bollman included, will do the necessary research on a brand and product before committing, and are more inclined to back a product that has a story. And as silly as it might seem to think that every item has a story, considering the craftmanship that goes into making a Ball and Buck boot–handmade using Goodyear welt construction which allows a owner to repair the sole of a worn-out pair of boots instead of tossing them out–it would be hard to argue against the appeal of buying something that has meaning for the artisan but also has the ability to gain value overtime.
“When our products leave the store [that] is the day they start going up in value because you have the ability to live and do these things, and have these experiences that make the product more than just a thing. Or customers when they come in, they don’t want a new jacket, they want us to patch it or re-wax the jacket,” he said. “I think that’s kind of the canvas of your life.”
Bollman isn’t the only company that models his business off of this buy-less, buy-well concept. And this weekend at Industry City, Bollman will be bringing his Boston-based store and 50+ other American-made brands that also believe in mindful consumption and the movement to bring high-quality manufacturing back into the states for American Field, a two-day, pop-up market that Bollman founded in 2012 after realizing that in order to be successful in his business, he needed to establish a physical presence in a specific city that went beyond a brick-and-mortar store but didn’t have the additional burdens and cost of owning a year-round store. Though it started in Boston, the pop-up gradually expanded to Washington DC, Atlanta, and as of last year, Brooklyn.
“We have everyone from Mast Brothers Chocolates to Mike’s Hot Honey. And then we have menswear and womenswear, and leather goods. I mean there’s such a mix of great brands. I’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t find something there that they don’t feel like they can live without,” he said. “There’s such a great mix of different things.”
This year, the pop-up market will coincide with the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg that will occur upstairs all weekend. But like the brands that participate in American Field, Bollman doesn’t view these markets as competition, rather an opportunity for like-minded people to share a space and find a massive amount of really cool products.
While we recommend you stop by Ball and Buck, we definitely suggest you check out these other brands as well:
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