You are about to see a lot more about Vasque Boots here on Red Clay Soul, but for now, enjoy Ace and his Desert Dog. Talk about some bucket-list level stuff:
Hug your pooch, friends.
I’ve been friends with Aviate for well over a year now. To say that they have blown up is an understatement. Their airport code hats are everywhere, and those of us that got on board a while back are already on to hat number 2, or 3, or 4. This sort of growth for a small company forces a crash course in running a business, which is always interesting. Owner and founder Ben Lancaster was nice enough to give us some insight after a very interesting few years in the business…
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned since starting Aviate? If I think I have bought enough inventory, I haven’t, so buy more. Over the summer (May) we switched manufacturers and before the switch I ordered several thousand to tie me over the summer.. Well, that was about the time we experience our first boom. We sold out of that entire order in a week or two leaving us without our top sellers form June until mid-September. While some people would say that is Economics 101 because of the demand we created (accidentally), I say it was the most nerve racking 3 months dealing with angry customers and retailers.
Why do you think the hats are so popular? I tell people all the time, Aviate is more than airport codes on hats. We strive to bring a sense of community to people through the design of our hats and other airport code products. People love to take pride in their hometowns or cities where they were raised and our products help that person connect with the place they love the most.
What is it like being in the apparel business? Being in the apparel business is fast pace. Recently we have streamlined things a bit by moving all of our shipping to a distributor center to free up our time and concentrate on growing the brand. We have to always be willing to innovate and create new products to survive, yet also creating and maintaining relationships with our customers. I think we are more than just an apparel business, we strive to create a culture that people want to be apart of. We want our customers to connect with and have a love affair with our brand, so attention to detail and a personal, hands on approach to the relationships with our customers and retailers are critical. I make sure my team knows that I want every email answered, every question someone asks us on any social media platform is not only answered but answered in a timely fashion. Details like that are very important to me and important to our brand.
Describe a day at Aviate… Every day is different, but we have certain things that must be done every day. We have over 300 sku’s that we sell under the Aviate name so keeping tabs on inventory is a daily battle which makes forecasting and ordering a daily battle for us as well. Because of our massive amounts of sku’s and inventory we are constantly putting out fires and tending to customers needs on a minute by minute basis. I now have four employees, one intern and looking to add one more intern and a couple sales positions and because we are in such a high foot traffic area friends and strangers alike are always stopping by to hang out and see what we are up to, which we enjoy the most… connecting with people, so our office is in constant motion. FUN is on the top of the list here at Aviate so there are always pranks, events being put on and people wanting to be a part of our brand.
What do we have to look forward to from Aviate in the future? I mentioned being innovative earlier. Our wheels are constantly turning with what products we want to release down the road. Spring of 2017 we look to have a light release of different products with Fall of 2017 being our first huge launch with a wide array of options. While airport codes on products will always be our staple we are positioning ourselves to be a premium travel brand with travel based products to better entrench us as a long term brand.
I can’t stand brown buttons on button-up shirts. They give shirts a very casual look, which I don’t like at all. Call it a pet peeve. I prefer white buttons on all sport shirts, and especially on all dress shirts.
Today’s Goodwill trick: Don’t let brown buttons deter a really nice Goodwill find. If you come across a shirt with a nice set of Mother of Pearl (MOP) buttons, it is worth spending $5 on the shirt just to salvage the buttons. You will usually see these buttons on older, out of date luxury dress shirts (the one above is Zegna), or from mens stores. The best part: it doesn’t matter what size, style, or condition. As long as the buttons are good, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Keep the button sets in separate plastic bags and upgrade when necessary.
Fall is the sweet spot. It’s with great anticipation that we await to see what #menswear maestro Sid Mashburn has up his sleeve… The feeling this fall is bold basics. Great pieces like a cashmere sweater that you may have in a more muted charcoal, but in a super cool teal green. A work shirt in a deep orange. Or crepe sole brogues in dark green suede. A tweed sport coat with a dash of Air Force blue… You get it.
They are nice enough to ask me to come by and shoot their Atlanta store, and I apologize in advance for the way-too-many picture display below. We usually shoot for a dozen or so. Sorry. Well, maybe I’m not. Enjoy:
With Fall arriving, and the temperatures (finally) starting to drop, it’s time to transition closets to more weather-friendly options. For me, Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only is it college football season, but the humidity disappears, and ‘outdoor life’ becomes much more conducive.
Fall is the sweet spot for Ball and Buck. They have a focus on colder weather gear that is conducive to being outside, hunting, and campfires. Their catalogs have a feel of cold morning dew, a brisk breeze, and early morning gunpowder. The good thing about the Ball and Buck value proposition is that their pieces are transitional. Of course it all works well for outdoor life, but it is transitional. The majority can be worn in a business casual environment, on a date, or hanging out on the weekend. Here are my picks this Fall:
From top Left:
1 The Striped Hunter’s Shirt: The Hunter’s Shirt is what got Ball and Buck going. They knock this one out of the park, with the special attention given to the shooter’s shoulder. Wash, hang dry, and iron. Never dry clean.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the American Field event in Atlanta November 12-13 at Ponce City Market…more on this later…
**This is the first of a few ‘Shopping Fall’ pieces you’ll see over the next few weeks.
The rumor mill started spinning last week with the possibility of Ford releasing a redesigned Bronco in 2018. I have always been a Bronco fan – one of my fraternity brothers drove a 1995 Eddie Bauer green model that was awesome. He was not cool enough to drive that truck. Anyway, the new concept looks horrible. It looks like something that Arnold Swharzenegger (or worse Colin Farrell) would drive around on Mars in Total Recall.
What’s wrong with the original model? The Bronco was introduced in 1966 as a compact SUV, and biggie sized in 1978. The ’66-’77 models are incredible. One of our dear friends has one that he has totally restored (it’s that cool gold/mustard color like the last image). These can be found at a good restoration price, and not have to dump a TON of money (Defender-esque) to get it back to it’s glory. One day I’ll pull the trigger…for now, enjoy some inspiration. Which one is your favorite? Mine is Blue #4, but I wouldn’t complain about any of them.
Images: Google Image Search