This simple, comfortable Classic Striped ¾ Sleeve T-shirt is ideal as a layering piece for work or play. Made in Dutch Country, Pa., by a family-owned knitting mill that has been in operation since 1906, Small Trades shirts represent everything ideal about heritage American manufacturing.Read the brand story
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The Small Trades Story
A trip to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles turned out to be much more than a relaxing afternoon of art and architecture. Robin Weiss, founder and Creative Director of Small Trades, saw something there that inspired her to change her life, and ours. At the Getty she viewed an exhibit by the photographer Irving Penn called “Small Trades.” This gallery showcased images of individuals with the iconic tools of their trades. Robin was already looking for something new, something different. She says, “I was living in two worlds: one was fashion.” So when inspiration from the exhibit struck, what did she decide to do? Go back to the classics, and do them right.
“I’m not a big trend person. I love a little trend. But I like to mix it with the tried and true.” Keeping this simple, classic aesthetic in mind, Robin searched for a producer in the United States that could help her bring her brand to life. In 2010, she found a factory that has been owned and operated by the same family in Dutch Country, Pennsylvania—Robin’s home state—since 1906.
She began a phone relationship with the owner, a manufacturer named Gary who—at the time—only sold to the Japanese. The phone conversations between Robin and Gary lasted for four months. During this correspondence, Robin specified that she would like to sell Small Trades in the United States to customers who care about the craftsmanship behind their products. Thus, a partnership was born.
“I’m not a technical designer,” she says, “I’m more of a creative director. And I stayed true to what he did but restyled it for the customer I had in mind: more current,“ a woman who “appreciates quality, simple style, classic, timeless pieces.” That is precisely what Small Trades became: beautiful, well-made product for all ages that will never go out of style.
The brand started out small, but grew quickly. Robin began with five bodies and samples for just five stores. But Small Trades was expanding: enter business executive Mary Ayscue. Mary and Robin had worked together previously at the well-known Brooklyn boutique Butter, which they had sold a few years ago. Mary joined Robin to launch Small Trades, focusing on brand-building, sales and building out their cozy store in downtown New York City.
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