Nashville, TN

Amid the decades-long decline of American apparel manufacturing, one company is working to reverse the tide. Founded in 2017 by West Point graduate Dean Wegner, Authentically American seeks to strengthen U.S. manufacturing through high-quality clothing crafted by American hands.

With grit, innovation, and patriotic passion, Authentically American aims to grow into a $100 million brand by the end of the decade, serving as a model for revitalizing American apparel production. Through clever products and marketing plus strategic partnerships, Wegner’s maverick firm leads the charge in demonstrating the powerful commercial and social potential of domestic manufacturing.

The Current State of America Apparel Manufacturing

The American apparel manufacturing industry has experienced a staggering decline over the past few decades. In 1993, when Wegner graduated from West Point, over 50% of apparel worn in the United States was produced domestically. However, by the time he founded Authentically American in 2017, that number had plummeted to a mere 3%. 

Wegner’s firsthand experience with this decline came through his acquisition of a government contractor that produced military uniforms in 2012. As he delved deeper into the industry, he discovered the extent of the challenges faced by American apparel manufacturers. Many companies, unable to compete with the low costs of overseas production, had shut down or moved their operations abroad. This realization fueled Wegner’s determination to make a change and create a brand that would prioritize American manufacturing, ultimately leading to the establishment of Authentically American.

Founding Authentically American

Armed with the knowledge of the challenges facing American apparel manufacturing, Wegner set out to build an American-made apparel brand in 2017. His vision was clear: to create a company that would not only produce high-quality clothing but also make a positive impact on the lives of American workers and their communities. Authentically American was born out of this vision, with a commitment to sourcing and manufacturing all its products within the United States.

Initially, Wegner believed that the company’s American-made focus would be enough to attract customers across the spectrum. However, he soon realized that many consumers were unaware of or indifferent to where their clothing was made. This realization led him to refine Authentically American’s target market, focusing on veteran-owned businesses and veteran-focused charities.

By targeting this specific niche, Wegner found a customer base that deeply valued the company’s mission and appreciated the quality of its American-made products. This strategic decision has proven to be a key factor in Authentically American’s success, allowing the company to build strong relationships with its customers and create a loyal following. Today, the company continues to grow and thrive, with veteran-owned businesses and charities making up a significant portion of its client base.

Supply Chain and Manufacturing Strategy

Authentically American’s supply chain and manufacturing strategy is built on a foundation of strong partnerships and a commitment to quality. To ensure that all its products are made in the United States, the company works with contract manufacturers across 11 different states. This approach allows Authentically American to tap into the expertise of skilled American workers and support local economies.

Finding the right manufacturers was no easy task, as many apparel companies in the United States had gone out of business or moved their operations overseas due to the industry’s decline. However, Wegner’s experience in the military uniform manufacturing sector provided him with valuable insights into the best remaining American apparel manufacturers. By leveraging these connections and conducting thorough research, Authentically American has been able to identify and partner with some of the most skilled and reliable manufacturers in the country.

To ensure consistent quality and maintain adequate production capacity, Authentically American has fostered close partnerships with its suppliers. These relationships are built on trust, open communication, and a shared commitment to producing high-quality, American-made apparel. As the company continues to grow, it plans to deepen these partnerships, potentially exploring joint ventures to further strengthen its supply chain.

Authentically American’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, serves as the central hub for inventory management and order fulfillment. All products sourced from various manufacturers across the country are sent to the Nashville facility for quality control inspections before being shipped to customers. This centralized approach allows the company to maintain strict quality standards, streamline its operations, and provide a seamless experience for its customers.

Product and Marketing Innovation

Authentically American sets itself apart from competitors not only through its commitment to American manufacturing but also through its focus on product innovation and superior customer experiences. One example of this innovation is the company’s sweat-activated t-shirts, which feature designs that become visible when the wearer sweats. This unique feature has helped Authentically American stand out in a crowded market and attract customers who value both quality and novelty.

In addition to innovative products, Authentically American places a strong emphasis on creating a superior product experience for its customers. From the soft, comfortable fabrics used in its clothing to the attention to detail in its designs, the company strives to ensure that every product meets the highest standards of quality. This commitment to excellence has helped Authentically American build a loyal customer base and generate positive word-of-mouth marketing.

To spread brand awareness, Authentically American has focused on sharing its story and mission through various media outlets. Wegner has appeared on national television programs such as Fox and Friends and MSNBC, as well as being featured in Forbes magazine. These appearances have helped the company reach a wider audience and connect with potential customers who share its values.

The company has also found success through partnerships with high-profile clients such as Tunnel to Towers, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans and first responders. By working closely with these organizations and providing them with high-quality, American-made apparel, Authentically American has been able to build strong relationships and gain valuable exposure.

Challenges and Vision for the Future

As Authentically American continues to grow, Wegner has set an ambitious goal for the company: to become a $100 million brand by 2030. While this target presents significant challenges, Wegner believes that the company’s strong foundation, dedicated team, and commitment to its mission will help it achieve this objective.

One of the primary challenges Authentically American may face as it scales is potential capacity constraints within its American manufacturing network. As the company’s order volumes increase, it will need to ensure that its suppliers can keep pace with demand. To address this issue, Wegner plans to explore joint ventures with key suppliers, allowing for increased investment in equipment, facilities, and workforce development.

By forming strategic partnerships with its suppliers, Authentically American aims to create a more resilient and flexible supply chain that can adapt to the company’s growing needs. These collaborations will not only help the company meet its production goals but also contribute to the growth and stability of American manufacturing jobs.

Throughout its journey, Authentically American remains committed to making a difference in the lives of American workers and their communities. As the company expands, it will continue to prioritize domestic manufacturing, investing in the skills and livelihoods of American craftspeople. By doing so, Authentically American hopes to play a role in revitalizing the American apparel industry and inspiring other businesses to follow its lead.

Wegner recognizes that the path to becoming a $100 million brand will not be easy, but he is confident that Authentically American’s dedication to its mission, coupled with the support of its customers and partners, will help the company overcome any obstacles it may face. As the company grows, it will remain true to its core values, ensuring that every product it creates is a testament to the quality and ingenuity of American manufacturing.

Leading the Charge for American Manufacturing Revival

As Authentically American continues to grow and pursue its ambitious goals, it serves as a shining example of what is possible when entrepreneurs combine business acumen with a commitment to social responsibility. The company’s success not only benefits its customers and employees but also strengthens the fabric of American manufacturing, one product at a time.

In a world where consumers increasingly prioritize sustainability, transparency, and ethical production, companies like Authentically American are poised to lead the way. By staying true to its mission and continually innovating to meet the needs of its customers, Authentically American has the potential to become a major force in the American apparel industry, inspiring others to follow in its footsteps and contribute to the resurgence of domestic manufacturing.

Dean wanted to be sure we pass along that if your business or charity is interested in custom apparel from Authentically American, to drop him a line directly at dwegner@authenticallyamerican.us to get the process started!