Sweatpants Are All Grown Up

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Introducing a new product is a big deal.  We pride ourselves on having a focused, but excellent assortment of products.  When we do launch something new, it is the culmination of months of planning, prototyping, fitting, debating, revising, debating some more, and eventually naming.  The history of any given product’s anatomy is always an interesting story.  This is the story of the Ace Pant.

Mack Weldon debuted in July 2012 with a full assortment of underwear, undershirts, t-shirts, and socks.  In order to enter the competitive world of men’s basics, we had to make a statement.  The products had to be unique and differentiated from the rest of the market.  They had to be high quality, purposeful, and include performance attributes.  The product story was strong, but in order for it to resonate, it had to be told across a number of product categories.  It couldn’t be just one or two.

Over the next three years, we introduced new fabrics (silver and merino), new silhouettes (long underwear and long sleeve shirts), and countless new patterns and colors.  The one thing we didn’t do was launch a new product category.  That was by design.  The core concept behind Mack Weldon was to keep things focused and simple.  The assortment was narrow, easy to navigate, and consistent year after year, so when it was time for our customer’s to replenish their drawers, they knew their favorites would still be there.  That’s not to say we didn’t think about other product categories.  Our customers were constantly emailing to ask for the Mack Weldon spin on new categories.  But for us to break from our core of underwear, undershirts, t-shirts, and socks, it had to make sense.  We had to establish our lane, before we could start widening it.

It was late in 2014 that we noticed a couple things happening in the apparel industry.  On the women’s side, leggings and yoga pants had officially become a wardrobe staple.  The transition had been happening for years, but Lululemon had officially convinced a generation of girls that it was acceptable to walk around in public wearing colored tights.  That might not seem relevant to a men’s brand, but one rule in fashion is that often what starts on the women’s side eventually makes its way over to the men’s side.  Guys obviously weren’t going to start wearing leggings, but they had already started wearing slimmer fitting clothes.  Guys are also very focused on comfort.  The question was how to take the trend of athletic wear as daily wear on the women’s side, combine it with slimmer fitting clothes on the men’s side, and then give it the Mack Weldon touch.

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The answer was sweatpants.  Sweatpants have been around since the 1920s, but they were in desperate need of a modern makeover.  The sweats on the market were either too cheap, too baggy, too expensive, or too trendy.  We wanted a high-end pant that was comfortable and modern fitting, but at an affordable price point.  The design team started with an incredibly soft French Terry cotton, added Lycra for stretch, and then used a micro brush to give it that nice smooth finish on the outside.  The beauty of French Terry is that it is light enough be worn outside (it will wick moisture from your skin if you get too hot), but heavy enough to keep you warm in the winter.  The French Terry was then cut into a slim, yet comfortable silhouette, giving it a modern, refined look that a guy would even feel comfortable in walking around Manhattan.  After fabric and fit, it’s all about the little details: pockets that are deep enough to hold your stuff, but wouldn’t get too heavy or sag; zippers to make sure your stuff stays secure, and the signature Mack Weldon waistband and draw cord.

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The Ace Pant launched alongside the Ace Hoodie in November 2015 and the response was overwhelming.  Our customers loved them, so we added to the collection this summer with the addition of the Ace Short.  This coming winter will be our second with the Ace collection and we’re bringing it back in a big way.  As a brand, we are always conscious about staying in our lane and only going into new areas when our customers give us permission.  The Ace Pant was a natural extension for Mack Weldon.  It pushed us outside of underwear and socks, but stayed true to everything that has made Mack Weldon a success to date.

Author: Charley

Charley is Director, Finance & Operations at Mack Weldon.