Inside Outdoor Magazine - Fall 2018

Inside Outdoor | FALL 2018 24 I n October, Sierra Designs launched the California Col- lection, a line of multi-function packs and apparel with a “town to trail” theme. The collection includes a wide range of items spanning from men’s and wom- en’s apparel to trucker hats. The launch was a homecoming for Sierra Designs, which opted to create and manufacture the line in California where the company was originally founded back in 1965. “We had been doing some soul searching in an effort to reposition the brand,” said Sako Shahinian, creative director at Sierra Designs. “We found out a lot about ourselves. We looked into our history and the idea of Cali- fornia kept coming up. Ultimately, we realized that we are a California brand. So it was kind of a natural thing to do something in California.” As vice president and general man- ager George Bryant explained, the re- brand was similar to a capstone project for the company. The team is growing quickly, and management wanted to try and establish a stronger connection to the company’s original brand. “We set out to ask, ‘What was Sierra Design,’ and ‘What was the true core of this brand when it launched 53 years ago?’ Our goal was to help the team understand what it may have been like when George Marks and Bob Swanson were trying to get it off the ground,” Bryant said. As the project unfolded, Sierra Designs encountered what many other brands have discovered: Manufac- turing in America does not come without its share of challenges. Manufacturing overseas is not only more cost-effective, but it also can be easier from a sourcing perspective. Moving operations to Cali- fornia meant working with a completely different set of partners and suppliers. “For example, if we want to put a stretch woven fabric into a trail hiking shirt, there really isn’t a lot of yardage available in California to do that,” Bry- ant said. “It definitely takes more time for that element.” The process, Bryant explained, has been a stress test in trying to find suppliers that are willing to run with minimums that make sense, and finding fabrics that align with the company’s brand and merchandising strategy. Si- erra Designs is still a small business, and the company was challenged to do a lot of heavy lifting. Yet while the project brought its share of challenges, it has also pro- duced some noteworthy benefits. Sierra Designs has strengthened its team and rediscovered its core mission. At the same time, the company is support- ing American workers and reducing its Going Back to ‘Cali by Gerald Baldino Sierra Designs returns to the Golden State to produce its California Collection Inside Sierra Designs’ California operations Made in Americas