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Dollar Votes

Adam Muncy

We are not here to sing praises to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Thankfully, election season is over. We are here to talk business.

When done best, business is a democracy. Just like in our political system where your vote means something, business is based on voting. Every dollar you spend is a vote. When you purchase from Patagonia, you are voting for ethical production, honest sourcing and on-site daycare for employees. When you purchase from the Root Collective you vote for transparency, handcrafted shoes and women entrepreneurs. When you purchase from us, you vote for co-op production, lifetime quality and empowerment through education.

Likewise, your dollars spent elsewhere count just the same. Spending money on fast fashion votes for what can be dangerous working conditions and exploitative employment practices. Making purchases at some big box stores votes for the person handling your transaction to not make a living wage.

The free market is a beautiful thing because it allows you to choose who wins. It allows you say what's right. Do not use that ability carelessly.

What Does the Name Mean?

Adam Muncy

I'm going to start with a confession: The Hounds, Ltd. does not own a hound, but we aspire to.

 Louisa

Louisa

With that out of the way, "The Hounds," has been name of the brand since it was just an idea. It actually existed before any research and development, before we knew we'd make oxfords. And it all had to do with the fact that all my siblings had dogs which were lovingly referred to as "The Hounds." Between 4 siblings total, a holiday could include as many as 5 full sized dogs stampeding through the kitchen. That's roughly 300 lbs of domesticated beast, all of whom were convinced they were lap dogs.

 Duke

Duke

Truth be told, it's also a very versatile name. When I originally created the concept, I'd been brainstorming with my brother. He had a very trad/blue blazer style, and I had grown up in the skate and local music scenes, but this was a name that had excited us both. Granted, it painted a different picture for each of us.

 Berkeley and Bernie

Berkeley and Bernie

There it is, no mystique or deeper meaning. It was just too good to pass up.

How to Start a Cut & Sew Brand

Adam Muncy

This may be the blog post that makes or breaks the brand, but we are committed to 100% transparency with you guys. You deserve it for all the support you give us. So we will give it to you straight up.

The process of starting the brand began in October of 2015 with a lot of research and development. Although an oxford had always been a staple, it hadn't been our uniform. We started by wearing an oxford all day, every day for 30 days straight. From there, we hit the thrift stores on a mission to find strong brands with heritage. We'd find their old "Made in the USA" stuff from estate sales and un-sew them. We took measuring tape to all of our shirts. A trip to the mall became a quest to find the strongest and weakest features of every shirt it had. And when we thought we knew what it took to create the perfect oxford, we found a pattern maker.

Each trip to the pattern maker was an ordeal. We'd list every feature we wanted and give precise measurements. The pattern maker would create it, and then we'd live in it for a week. Usually within the first day, the new-ness would wear off, and we'd be able to make educated decisions. This process would take 2 weeks each round. 1 week of production; 1 week of wearing the shirt, and then start over again. After 4 rounds, we were ready to go to production.

As we've already mentioned, our brand is dedicated to doing everything with integrity which meant we had to see the production facility with our own eyes. So one flight out of O'Hare with Scottie Pippen and a second out of Miami later, we were in Central America ready to see the facility. In a sprint, we were on the factory floor from 9 AM until 7 PM hammering out every last detail. The whole time we were looking for anything that could be amiss, but the factory passed with flying colors. It was one of the safest working environments I'd ever seen with a lot of people who were happy to work there but maybe a little annoyed that someone was asking them questions in broken Spanish while they were trying to get stuff done.

Lastly, came sourcing. It doesn't matter how good a design or sewers are if there isn't material to make it. Thankfully, this market has a lot of middlemen willing to meet your needs and explain the entire process. Sourcing fabric is the easiest part of the process. It's literally just shopping. Not to say it won't be the biggest purchase the brand makes, but it's still just shopping.

There you have it. This is how you build a fashion brand the hard way.

Chi-Town, Second City, Chicago, etc.

Adam Muncy

Why did we choose Chicago to be the base for our social element?

First things first, Chicago is the capital of the Midwest, and we are Midwesterners. We know it's not cool and whenever a movie needs a generic setting they choose the Midwest. But it is a real place full of real people living real lives. Inner city Chicago is full of capable people facing a different set of circumstances. Truthfully, until I (Adam) was in my early 20's I didn't know this. I'll explain.

In a summer off from undergrad, a former mentor turned missionary put out an ad looking for 2 camp counselors for a bible camp he directed each summer for kids from inner city Chicago. Being that my childhood best friend and I were doing nothing productive, we both figured we'd give it shot. During the process, we were both very impressed with the resiliency that kids showed and blown away by how different their lives were from ours. While we were annoyed to be swimming in a lake instead of a pool, the vast majority of our kids had never taken swimming lessons. It wasn't that they weren't capable or didn't want to; they'd never been taught.

I actually spent the entire next summer interning with the same organization. My days included teaching bible lessons, making snacks, being the time-out monitor and, for the first time in my life, playing in opened fire hydrants. During the process, I came to know and trust Inner City Impact who has been in the neighborhood making a difference for over 40 years.

When it came time to launch the brand, there was no doubt that Inner City Impact would be our pilot partner. To be completely honest, they had been integral in designing the social aspect. When we asked how we could help, they said uniforms. When we released a tee, they were taking kids camping. Truthfully, it's been an organic partnership, and we wouldn't want it any other way.

Why $57?

Adam Muncy

Hi, everyone!

First things first, we owe you a tremendous amount of gratitude. In the 4 days since the oxfords release, you've depleted 20%+ of our stock. For those not familiar with the apparel industry, that is absolutely insane. Second, you all sent 100 kids camping this summer with your tee purchases. 100 kids! That's 100 kids who may have never been to Lake Michigan even though they live in Chicago. 100 kids who may have believed in Great Lake Sharks, and YOU made a difference in their lives.

We wanted to take this opportunity to explain a few things. We're sure there are questions about the price point. Some folks have never spent more than $40 on a shirt and can get one that appears similar for $30 from some store in the mall. And we want to be the first to tell you, it does appear similar so we want to explain some of the differences.

Our raw materials are sourced with integrity. First of all, this means that we will never sell or use sub-par materials. If you feel like we have, do not hesitate to contact us so we can make it right. When you touch our shirts, you will feel the quality difference in the fabric compared to chain discount stores. I have nothing against saving money, but they aren't the same product. Integrity also means that we do our very best to ensure everyone is treated ethically throughout the supply chain. As the customer, dollar votes matter most, and you being our customer, allows us to be the suppliers' customer. Thankfully, clothing is more transparent these days so we can make educated decisions to improve quality of life for all stakeholders.

Most importantly, the giving factor plays into the price. Again, you can buy a $30 shirt in a mall chain, but that's not going to donate a school uniform to anyone. That's not going to alleviate the stress of a single mom moving apartments every 3 months because her kids keep getting robbed on the way home from school.

Lastly, some of you may find this hard to believe, but for the product we create, $57 is a steal. From our market research, the average price of an oxford in America's test market (Columbus, OH) is $68.50. That is for any run of the mill oxford. One better, the average price of an oxford that meets our integrity standards is $137.50.

We want you to understand that we don't expect to be your "I have a date tomorrow and don't own a single collared shirt" shirt. We want to be your Christmas, graduation, promotion, honeymoon and "our first set of family pictures with our firstborn" shirt.

We love you guys and are humbled that you've allowed us to take this journey with you.