Andrew Livingston puts a Brooklyn stamp on classic dry goods
Roaming the floor at Knickerbocker Mfg. Co. you will see, among other things, vintage hat blocks everywhere. It’s no coincidence that this factory was once known as Watman Headwear Corporation and had been here in Brooklyn, N.Y. for many years. In 2013, Andrew Livingston and his partners, Kyle Mosholder and Daniel Rickard Guy, made a gentleman’s deal with Steven Watman, the owner of the factory and son of the founder. They offered $15,000 and, to their surprise, Watman accepted without hesitation. They were factory owners. Since then, this “collective” has been home to a group of craftsmen who hone their skills while maintaining individual creative projects.
Nearing its second full year, Livingston’s own project — a clothing label eponymously named after the factory — feels like it has been around forever. Knickerbocker Mfg. Co. puts a modern twist on classic dry goods and complements them with handcrafted jewelry and accessories that seem like they jumped out of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Capricorn: suspender worn trousers, “work” fit Sack Coats, and band collar oxfords reignite the good ole’ days when men dressed to dress, no matter what the occasion was.
Knickerbocker Mfg. Co. is available through roughly sixty retailers worldwide, with a big interest coming from the Japanese market. Speaking about his current distribution Livingston says, “with wholesale not being our end game, we like keeping relationships close. Most of these are guys we’ve had beers with.” He added that the near-future plans for the label are “focusing on direct-to-consumer. One of our first initiatives will be launching The Cutting Room, a web based platform for monthly releases. The Cutting Room is a pre-sale platform that rewards participating consumers with below retail prices. Not only will this help our consumer’s wallet but it also increases cash flow through steady releases and allows us to be more creative and less wasteful as quantities will be in tune with consumer demand.”
In other words, The Cutting Room makes buying clothes akin to using Netflix or Spotify. Livingston goes on to say, “The Cutting Room is really the beginning of what we are working towards. By focusing on the supply chain forward, I believe we will be able to move quicker, be more creative, more affordable, and ultimately satisfy our consumer.” He calls it Made in the U.S. at a price made for you.
There was undoubtedly a moment on that fateful day in 2013 when the gentlemen shook hands, looked at each other and said, “shit, we just bought a factory in Brooklyn”. From the looks of things, there was never a moment they didn’t know what to do with it.