There is a movement going on in apparel and fashion right now. The buzz word that came out a few years ago was “HERITAGE” -- Heritage of country, heritage of clothes, heritage of work, heritage of our past.
In essence, men are looking to connect again to their American roots. Back to products their grandfathers generation would have worn and used. I love it in so many ways… I connect to it. I believe there is something deep and true about it and what we need today as men.
I was recently at the largest clothing trade show in America where all brands that sell to the US were offering their latest clothing products… And that slogan of HERITAGE was everywhere.
Heritage in soaps, hats, socks, boots, flannels, underwear, cologne, jeans, you name it… it was soaked in heritage with masculine themes.
But I can’t help how ironic it is that just a few years ago, this same industry and many of these same clothing companies were selling skinny jeans and purses to men, and now it’s beards and rugged boots?
Quite a swing, eh? Was there a breakthrough or revelation?
I am a believer that general culture has a big pendulum swing affect. And from what I have read by philosophers like Francis Schaeffer is that general culture tends to address an overlooked and need in society when the new “trend” comes. The pendulum arm swung so far in the opposite direction (in this case feminization), it created the vacuum to which the HERITAGE movement can pick up steam and gather everyone onto the other side of it.
HERITAGE is making up for the decades prior that discounted it, which resulted in the feminization of men. An so… the swing to this other side continues…
But here is the problem with general culture. It’s a fickle thing. And that is why it works so well in the clothing industry... it is skin deep. It won't last. And unfortunately, it still doesn't get to the deeper questions under it.
But let me tell you… selling masculinity right now is a big and profitable business. It is everywhere these days from beer commercials, trucks, to apparel.
And while I honor the movement, and we find ourselves selling in this industry, I feel it is important to confess as the founder of our company selling HERITAGE products…
“Our products can’t make you a man.”
For some that might be obvious, (actually I would hope most of our customers know this.) But I think it’s important to start there. Let me be the first to confess it.
While I carry our waxed canvas duffle bags when I travel, and was inspired to make them from our past in material and form, unfortunately they haven’t made me a better husband or have turned me into Indiana Jones.
If I could get away with wearing flannel in the summer humidity of North Carolina I would (because there is no shirt I enjoy more for its weight and texture than a flannel), but even then, I still can’t seem to soak that in my bones to be that lumberjack figure that gets associated with it.
So here is what I do BELIEVE about this heritage movement and clothing.
I think clothing is to inspire folks… but also speak to something inside.
My hope as a company is that we would inspire men. Inspire men to take up the virtues that are embedded in our history and yes our heritage -- To become great and virtuous men of character.
And as one who believes in HERITAGE… It should be our place to lead them down a journey and a path to discover it for themselves.
But as the second part of the confession…. You need more than the clothes.
Here is how that happened for me, and what I would love to see our company do for men…
A few years ago, as a college senior I read a book by an author in Colorado named John Eldredge. He had written a book called Wild at Heart about men—about the loss of masculinity, the suburban living that had taken out so many men, and the need to re-discover our faith, our mountains, and our own heart as a man. It inspired me to take up that journey. It raised some questions about who I was as a man and who I was becoming, and invited me.
That book changed my life… but mostly because it motivated and inspired me to do something.
So here is a thought… instead of making a joke of the heritage movement… let’s honor it. The same guy that might have been wearing skinny jeans might be lacing up some old duck boots he bought off ebay and growing a beard right now… and I say… good for him.
I don’t shame him, I want to say… that desire is good.
But then I want to say… those items are not enough. Go live that out. Go find it. Make it your own.
Let’s go find those stories of our past. Don’t settle for a picture of old photographs of a boot company or those on our website… go find your grandfather’s boots or dig up his stories. Maybe ask him or someone you know to take you on those adventures. Don’t just carry a rugged bag, use it for an adventure you might need to actually go on.
Don’t just wear a PFG fishing shirt because it’s cool to wear walking to class, go ask someone you know who does some fishing, to take you out.
From what I know from our customers, I also know many men are living this out already. Far before HERITAGE was trending. And from waht I assume from most men I know and talk with, it was through the help of their actual grandfather or father who led them into these places of work, wilderness, mountains, and lakes.
So here is what I would say to you… honor this heritage movement with us!
I had a book signing about five years ago for a book I had written when a guy came up to me to say that he didn't agree that men needed the outdoors or mountains and challenged my theories on masculinity. But the irony? He had on a Bass Pro Shops t-shirt and a fishing hat. And told me stories of his father never spending time with him as a boy when he went into the woods hunting.
I asked him about the t-shirt and he dismissed my notion he might want to be invited still... "oh my wife bought me that."
It seemed to me, he wasn't willing to admit what was inside... he longed to be taken out.
I really believe most men long and hunger for that invitation... and so when we see it on them... laced up in boots and skinny jeans or in beards and PFG's... let's invite them.
Look for these guys, and invite them. We need you to lead them, young men and old into these adventures.
Those places will probably change their life.
So to sum this all up… We sell clothing. Yes. I can’t pretend that is not part of our company or you won’t find similar themes as this movement. But I’d love to see our clothing company inspire men. For guys to live that journey… to go explore and become those men we have seen in the past.
Can our clothes and dry goods make you a man?
Not at all.
And yet, if it leads you down a path of life change?
Well… then maybe we did our part.
So I say Thank you HERITAGE movement for swinging back. But when you swing to the other side again soon, my hope is we picked up a few men along the way. And when you come back again when the money is there, and you need a little change again, I hope that our company we will be waiting again for you.