Inside Outdoor Magazine - Fall 2018

Inside Outdoor | FALL 2018 22 W ith the uncer- tainty over tariffs of late and growing demand for “Made in the USA” products – both within the U.S. and overseas – there’s been a lot of buzz around do- mestic production and nearshoring. To Barry Barr of KAVU, it’s old hat. “I have a mountain of opinions on the experience of manufacturing in Canada and US,” said Barr. “Above all I’d say, it’s not easy.” We sat down with Barr to talk domestic manufacturing as KAVU moves past 25 years of making its signature Strap Cap in Seattle. Inside Outdoor: What’s made you keep the hats in the U.S. all these years? Pride? Stubbornness? Tradition?  Barr: I’ve kept our production in Seattle, as the person that helped me create the Original Strap Cap has made every single unit since its inception. We helped build the factory that made KAVU products through the ups and downs. We’ve supported the employ- ees and their families over 25 years. I have seen their children grow up and go to college. It has been an amazing relationship, and there have been great times and hard times. IO: What have been some of the greatest challenges to keeping manufacturing here?   BB: The largest challenge has been sourcing notions, fabric and findings. In the late ’90s all the suppliers just disap- peared almost overnight. That means you couldn’t find hook-and-loop, thread color you needed, elastic, fabric, or whatever you needed to produce a product. After it left Seattle, we sourced in L.A. Then everyone left L.A., and you had to buy everything from off shore. IO: How did you choose the U.S. factory in the first place?   BB:  It takes a long time to find a reputable factory. For the most part, factories are good and can do the pro- duction. What is difficult is supplying them with all the materials to complete a production on time. IO: What’s stopped you from making more products in the US?  BB: For KAVU, we kept our origi- nal items in the USA. The reason we stopped sourcing new products in the U.S. was the availability of fabric and findings. You can only design and man- ufacture on what fabrics you can find in the U.S. Another issue is if you want high design and lots of make in a prod- uct, it is impossible to source it in the USA. The sewing technology and the cost of manufacturing each item would not be affordable at realistic retail.    I do believe you can do quality U.S. production if you are a brand that is from factory direct to retail. If you are a wholesaler, there is virtually no way to make the wholesale/retail model work. IO: What would have to happen to bring more here?    BB: Costs would have to increase by 30 percent minimum at retail for everyone to make a decent return. The end consumer and dealer do not want to pay that increase for USA produc- tion. Very similar to organic products, people want it and talk about it, but often are not willing to pay the extra cost … yet. IO: Do you think the current tariff uncertainty is going to affect your bottom line with overseas production? BB: Absolutely; it could be disas- trous for everyone. All brands have sold their goods at a certain landed price, and that might increase 10 per- cent. Who is going to pay it? Right now, it will have to be the importer. There will be some brands that increase their prices and others that eat the 10 percent increase, and their profits will be reduced substantially – and they may go out of business. Ul- timately, the end consumer is going to see a 20 percent increase on any- thing made in China that is under the duty threat. It will only hurt the aver- age consumer. m Made in Americas Talking ‘Made inUSA’ with Barry Barr KAVU’s one and only Barry Barr The latest of the Original Strap Cap