JAMES McKINNON the founder of J Wingfield is no stranger to the textile industry. He is the grandson of a 60-year-old family run textile business owned and operated by the McKinnon family - Cotswold Industries. One of the eight divisions of Cotswold designs and manufactures yarn dyed fabrics for the industrial laundry and commercial work wear markets. Building upon that experience and his collective knowledge of textiles, along with the drive to create a well-designed, stylish, yet rugged shirt the J Wingfield brand was born. Their simple check and striped fabrics are woven in their own textile mill in South Carolina and they work with one of the oldest families in Texas that has over 75 years of experience in fabric cutting, sewing and tailoring.
Read on to hear what James had to tell us about his experience with launching his new brand. You can visit their website at www.jwingfield.com.
Q. Tell us a little about your background and how you got into the textile industry.
I love to make things and be as creative as possible in my work. With over two decades of textile experience, the attempt to re-invent a US supply chain is an incredibly exciting, creative challenge.
Q. What prompted you to manufacture a shirt 100% in America?
I looked in my closet and realized that every shirt I had was made overseas. So we did some research, made some samples, set up a supply chain, and started to experiment. J Wingfield naturally came together when we had the correct components to produce a perfectly fitting, quality shirt here at home - and offer it at an attractive price.
Q. Was it hard to find all of the components in the USA?
Finding great local suppliers was not difficult. We work together to control the development process from yarn to finished product - which gives us a strategic advantage in the world marketplace. The US has many outstanding sundry suppliers that are value driven, innovative and provide quick turns. Our suppliers are the backbone of the company, and are very much part of the J Wingfield family.
Q. What is the best part of your new venture?
Shirt manufacturing left this country long ago, bringing it back is very rewarding. As a textile guy, when I see leaders of our country wearing shirts made overseas - it's upsetting. With the brand's growth, our success will result in additional domestic jobs in agriculture, trucking, manufacturing, and marketing. Doing something that many said couldn’t be done feels really great, and is a goal worth working towards.
Q. What was the hardest part of getting J Wingfield launched?
At our core, we are manufacturers. So the learning curve of retail is an ongoing challenge.
Anything else you would like to share?
We noticed a problem during the intersection of purchase and out of stock product moments. During our research, we found a solution to solve the problem and built Cynqronize as a standalone product to support our retail rollout. For J Wingfield, this gives a point of difference over other, more established brands, while solving a handful of core retail problems. As a result, J Wingfield launches aside of another great cloud based product called Cynqronize.
All photos courtesy of J Wingfield.