All month long we've been talking to leaders in the locally made movement, celebrating the brands that have built reputations by employing the best craftsmen in their regions, and drawing on techniques and traditions from years past. Today we've caught up with Ryan Keenan of Yuketen about the brand's dedication to made in the USA.
WATM: Do you see a resurgence in products being made in smaller batches, in local factories and workshops, rather than in mass production facilities offshore?
RK: I cannot speak for other companies but certainly demand for Yuketen is at an all-time high. Existing stockists are buying more products for their stores, we're gaining new accounts every season, and consumer inquiries for products are somewhat overwhelming lately. It's no secret that the Yuketen collection is largely comprised of truly hand-made products. No mass manufacturing for us...
WATM: Why do you think locally made products are in demand right now?
RK: I believe that many people are tired of being told what to buy. Instead they are looking for True quality with a capital T and they are willing to pay extra for it. I believe they feel more justified in subscribing to an ethical value system which in many ways encapsulates locally made products or artisanal products from bona fide craftsmen/craftswomen.
WATM: Where is Yuketen made?
RK: Most of our work is made in USA with complimentary products made in Canada, Mexico, and Italy. Yuketen emerged as a made in USA brand but we are now working on special programs in partnership with some amazing century-old work shops in the previously stated countries. It will take some time for people to comprehend the quality of these newly introduced products so for now the best selling items are still our made in USA goods.
WATM: Please describe Yuketens production process.
RK: Yuketen's collection is vast and we employ several production methods for our various products. In the interest of time, we will isolate the discussion the production processes utilized for our popular made in USA styles. However, this explanation should be considered a glossary overview of Yuketen production as it is not intended to be comprehensive. First and foremost 95 - 100% of the components for Yuketen are made in USA. This is the first lengthy step of the production process. After all components are produced, we begin to cut and stitch the mostly naturally sourced components into forms conducive to genuine hand-sewing. Genuine hand-sewing means the hand-sewer must puncture the leather to create each thread-hole by hand. This ancient shoe-making method ensures best fitting to the shoe last which is important because, ultimately, genuine hand-sewing yields a more comfortable shoe. The final production process is stitching the outsole to the moccasin upper by means of an antiquated sole stitching machine. The finished product is then trimmed by hand or with a sole trimming machine and cleaned either by hand or with a buffing machine. Even the shorthand version of our production process is flattering right? Haha!
WATM: Do you think the consumer cares where products are made?
RK: Absolutely! I know that I care about country of origin so I believe others should too. When I speak with Yuketen consumers, country of origin is one of the most popular topics of conversation. Only thirty years ago the United States was famous for shoe production and though those days are long gone it is still fulfilling for a Yuketen customer to own a piece of wearable America.