For Mark Bollman, the founder of Ball and Buck – a menswear haven for sporting gentlemen – the “Made in America” label is something he takes very seriously. With his Boston-based brand, he offers only the finest handcrafted, American-made goods for a dedicated following of loyal customers. In 2012, he decided to expound on that winning concept by starting American Field, the largest pop-up in existence for strictly American manufactured goods. In a short time, it has become a much-loved forum that connects skilled stateside craftsmen & brands with passionate lovers of quality goods. The next series of American Field events kick off later this month and will be held in Boston, DC, Atlanta and BK. Read our interview with Mark below:
“If you’re looking for quality goods, American Field is the place to go …”
What was the founding ideology behind starting American Field?
I founded American Field out of the frustration with the consumer purchase process. There is a growing disconnect between the maker of a product, and the purchaser. The vision for American Field was to take the all too common fluorescent lit, plastic packaged shopping experience and create the exact opposite; a forum for craftspeople and brands to connect and tell the stories of their products directly to the consumer. It’s like farm to table but for clothing.
Why does the “Made In America” ethos mean so much to you?
Aside from the tremendous impact on creating jobs (every $1 spent on USA goods contributes an additional $1.30 to the U.S. Economy and jobs), America is a country that makes things. We were founded on the ability to create the best in the world, and our long term success depends on our continued ability to do so. Spending that little bit extra to purchase something that is made In USA is a small ask with a big reward.
Authentic craftsmanship and true pride in small batch, handmade items are increasingly hard to find these days – how is American Field helping to preserve these values?
American Field is an event platform built on these values. All of our 70+ vendors bring their pride into what they offer at their booth. If you’re looking for quality goods, American Field is the place to go.
Is there a selective vetting process involved for brands who want to show their wares at American Field?
Yes, just like my Ball and Buck B+M store features a curated selection of handpicked goods American Field curates vendors who align with our mission and quality standards. And of course, all products shown must be Made in USA.
What brands have been the most popular at American Field to date?
Ball and Buck , LLBean. Randolph eyewear. Rancourt Shoe Crafters and General Knot.
What have been the biggest growth areas you have seen since you first started American Field compared to now?
At the time I started AF, I visited the menswear shows and there were maybe a few made in USA brands at best. Now all the major shows have entire sections dedicated to MiUSA. The tremendous growth of the movement has resulted in a large number of high quality brands that apply to participate in AF.
Is there a chance of American field ever becoming a “permanent pop-up” with freestanding shops around the US?
Can’t rule anything out…
What are the highlights people can expect from the upcoming American Field pop-ups for 2015?
In 2014 we grew American Field by 100%, in 2015 we’re doing it again and establishing our national presence spanning from Boston to Atlanta. Now that we’re in our fourth year we have really learned what the attendees and vendors value the most and are going to optimize the event for the best possible experience. That combined with the greatest group of vendors to ever participate in AF means 2015 will undoubtedly be our best year yet.
Lastly, can you share with us any new projects/collabs and expansion plans for Ball and Buck & American Field in the near future?
For American Field, it is a community. As we roll into next year expect to be able to leverage the American Field website much like the events themselves. With opportunities to learn about new brands, interact with the makers, and even purchase that next great gift, americanfield.us will be the go to website for all things Made in USA.
With regards to Ball and Buck, as a Boston brand, it’s always exciting for us to find ways to collaborate with brands in the area. We’ve got some projects in the works with a few brands that are sure to turn heads.
For specific dates of upcoming American Field exhibitions, visit www.americanfield.us
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