Boathouse Sports - Local Manufacturing

For this blog post, we wanted to put the spotlight on a local business that we’re absolutely loving! Boathouse Sports is a relatively new brand for our store, but you wouldn’t know it. As soon as we started carrying their apparel, they quickly became one of our most popular brands. It’s not hard to see why at a glance, Boathouse is a Philly brand through and through. When we first got in touch, it was fun to work together to figure out which of their pieces would be a good fit for our store. The hometown pride is unique here, and it became clear before long that we would have a special relationship with the brand. With that in mind, we decided to take a trip to Philly to see the factory and to learn more about the process of designing and producing apparel with a local flair.

Connor (who took all the gorgeous pictures for this post) and I were welcomed by Julia, our account manager, and Cindy, CEO and President of Boathouse. They were kind enough to give us a tour of the place, which was a factory manufacturing bombs before Boathouse moved in. The space is incredible, I was astonished as doors kept opening to reveal more and more elements of the design and production process. It’s not easy to run a factory in the US, which is why a lot of businesses choose to go overseas. But John Strotbeck, Boathouse’s founder, never left. The brand has been in Philly since 1976, and it’s a point of pride for everyone involved. Cindy and Julia both have backgrounds in apparel, and they told us how different it is from their past experiences. Rather than receiving products already made, they can be part of every step of the process. Collaboration from start to finish sounds awesome, but it’s another thing to see it in person. The floor is divided between teams working on different steps in the production process, each one contributing a different piece. Teams rotate every few weeks so that they’re all familiar with the whole process, and they have training classes to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the various silhouettes. As a result, each person on the floor is an expert in the products. There’s a tangible sense of pride in the product and how they make it, which shows in the quality of the pieces.

Boathouse is serious about investing and supporting their community. It’s the main reason they never left Philly, and that dedication is shown back to them in the loyalty folks have had for the brand since they got started in 1976. This definitely resonated with us, as we take so much pride in being a part of our community. What it comes down to, really, is neighbors supporting each other. We were talking about the team early in our tour when Cindy told us, “If you have a strong community, you can change the world.” It sounded so simple, perhaps because it really is. The only way forward is together. Carpooling is common among the sewers, who come from neighborhoods nearby, and helping each other out goes without asking. Georgie, the shipping manager, drove a coworker in one morning because their car’s battery had died. Instead of leaving it at that, though, he went out later that same day to pick up a replacement battery and actual replaced the battery for the employee. It was simple, he’d reasoned, they’re family. That ethos is a big part of their partnerships, too. It’s one of the reasons we’ve grown our relationship with Boathouse. The product is excellent, but working with a brand whose values align so much with ours is incredibly fulfilling. Boathouse did a collaboration with Chappy Wrap last year, sewing a water proof lining on the blankets geared for the outdoor lifestyle with Boathouse’s water-resistant technology. Cindy told us how fun it was to figure out how they could build a partnership that would be mutually beneficial, and in that spirit, Chappy Wrap sent the extra blankets to Boathouse to give out to the homeless people in the area. When you make it clear that you’re invested in your community, you’ll find like-minded people to work with who have those same priorities. It’s not easy work, but it’s important work. Connor and I stayed for a little while after the tour, chatting about other fun collabs and the who’s who of people wearing Boathouse. It was awesome to get to know a few of the people we’d been working with for the last few months, and to look to the future of our collaboration with them. We’re so grateful for the welcome we received, and incredibly excited about what’s to come! With spring training right around the corner, we’ll be prepping here with some fun new pieces from Boathouse!