HAVERHILL — A company that relocated from Newbury to downtown Haverhill is looking to improve the quality of available workwear — the kind of clothing worn by tradespeople and skilled laborers who demand comfort and durability in their pants, shirts, hoodies and hats.
Joshua Walker, 41, of Newbury, and his business partner, Ted De Innocentis, 36, of Andover, moved 1620 Workwear to 45 Wingate St. in August. Their business is located three floors above the Peddler's Daughter restaurant. That's where they design, develop and ship all of their products directly to customers, no middle-man involved.
"What our customers love about our clothing is how comfortable it is, how well it fits and performs, where the materials come from and where the clothing is made," Walker said. "We're the only workwear company making our products exclusively in the United States, using U.S.-sourced materials, which is the real difficult part of the equation.
Walker was co-founder of BERN, a brand of ski, snowboard and bicycle helmets, while De Innocentis lived in mainland China for five years, where he worked at a garment factory, managing product development though production and delivery.
Walker and De Innocentis met at industry trade shows, became close friends, and ultimately became business partners in creating 1620 Workwear.
"Since moving to Haverhill, we've been growing month after month," Walker said. "The entrepreneurial community in Haverhill is awesome and all of the local businesses support each other."
He said city officials embraced their business and put them in touch with other entrepreneurs in and around downtown.
"We were in Haverhill for just a week when we had a sit-down the mayor and Bill Pillsbury and his assistant Nate Robinson," Walker said, referencing those in the city's economic development and planning office. "They helped us network immediately, which was a great help as we really didn't know anyone in town."
Skandle, which makes molds for candles and ships them around the world, is located in the same building as 1620 Workwear.
"We networked with them to help shoot product photos in their photography studio," Walker said.
Walker and De Innocentis work to make sure there is nothing routine or mundane about the clothing they design and sell.
Their hoodies, for example, are made with a new Cordura fabric blend, along with first-responder rated fabric. They don't have drawstrings, but rather snaps that avoid the possibility of a string being caught in a machine. They also have helmet-compatible hoods and re-enforced elbows.
They utilize fabrics that are used in the outdoor industry for their workwear, as well as blends they've created such as their proprietary stretch NYCO (Nylon Cotton) blend that goes into making two styles of pants and one style of shirt.
They also use fabric created by a company in Norton that has its own propriety material, Tweave DuraStretch, that 1620 Workwear uses in making three styles of pants.
"We use fabrics that are also used in rock climbing, mountaineering, alpine sports, as well as fishing and hunting," Walker said.
Walker said his company's products are manufactured at sites in Massachusetts, California, Texas and Chicago.
He said that much of 1620 Workwear clothing is advertised as "military spec," because a lot of the fabric and hardware used is also used by the military.
"Ideally we'd like to make as much of our product here in Massachusetts," Walker said. "We're currently in negotiations with a local clothing manufacturer, as we'd like to start making our clothing in Haverhill."
He noted that less than 2 percent of the clothing Americans wear is actually manufactured in the United States and that tradespeople have a desire to purchase American-made clothing when they can.
"Our products are more expensive, but for the working man who wants best in class, and American made, we're one of the only brands available to them," Walker said.