Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Discussing khakis with Gregg Donnelly from Jack Donnelly Khakis - Part 1

"Khakis." The word conjures up a different response depending on your personal history with this seemingly ubiquitous item of clothing.  From military uniforms to an Ivy League staple, from pants to shorts and from expensive to downright cheap, the venerable khaki can be found in closets across America. Debates on "flat front vs. pleated" and "cuffed vs uncuffed" seem to rage constantly on Internet (with no clear winner in sight). Regardless of your opinion, one thing is certain: people love khakis.

Alas, not all khakis are created equal.  A trip to just about any thrift or department store will prove that.  Rack after rack of cheap, foreign-made pants and shorts.   Sadly, these are commodity versions of a piece of Americana with a long, rich history.  It doesn't (and shouldn't) have to be that way.  Enter men like Gregg Donnelly - founder of Jack Donnelly Khaki's based right here in Roswell, GA.  Gregg is an American entrepreneur with a passion for manufacturing and selling classic khakis the right way - they're comfortable, built to last and backed by outstanding customer service.  Most importantly, they're made right here in the USA! 

This will be a two part post.  Part 1 is a short Q&A with Gregg Donnelly and Part 2 will be a detailed review of the pants and shorts we purchased. 

Q: So what made you decide to start with khakis and shorts as opposed to some other article of clothing?
A: First off, I've always been a big fan of khakis.  From that I felt, and eventually came to know, that there was a void in the khaki market, and a general lack of excitement surrounding the khaki pant.  Sure tons of companies make them, but in my opinion, few were putting a strong emphasis on it.  We want the Jack Donnelly name to be synonymous with the best khakis.  We want Jack Donnelly to be the standard in khakis. 

Q: What was more important first, the product or that it was made in America?
A: I always knew I wanted them to be made in America.  I think the level of quality and craftsmanship that American manufacturers produce is superior.   You pay a premium for it, but it is definitely worth it.   Secondly, from a logistical standpoint it is a lot easier and more efficient than sourcing overseas.  It allows for greater quality control and quicker turnaround times.  Most importantly though, there is a sense of pride in American made.  We take a great deal of pride in it and hope our customers do also.  

Q: How much have your products changed from the first pair delivered up to now? What drove those changes?
A: From a style point, we have not changed anything.  We've tweaked a few elements of our fit from the original pair.  For example, on our pleated pant, we lengthened the rise for a more sufficient, comfortable fit.  We try to engage our customers, listen to what they have, and try to incorporate change for the better.   We've always stated that we want to deliver a product that our customers can consistently count on - both from a quality and style standpoint.  We look forward to continuing to  strive to improve on everything we do. 

Q: Do you find that Jack Donnelly has a larger following in the southeast versus the rest of the country?
A: Initially, I would say yes.  That is where we are based and where we know the most people to help spread the word.  I think it's natural for any company to have the strongest following in their home city/state.  As time goes on, and word spreads, our following evened out a bit around the country.  We very much appreciate everyone who has and continues to support us. 

Q: Do you feel that Jack Donnelly is a southern brand?
A: Yes, in the sense that we are based in the south and the fact that I grew up here, so naturally somethings we do will embody certain southern elements.  No in the sense that, I feel khakis are such a universal product, and don't think they should be marketed to one specific region.

Q: What makes your Khakis different from others on the market?
A: First, Jack Donnelly’s are better than the rest because they’re made with the finest sourced materials, constructed by the best American manufacturing, and fit better than any other pair I’ve seen.  More importantly, all of those superior qualities are offered to our customers at an excellent value proposition.  In my opinion, there isn’t a company out there that has consistently dialed in on those key elements the way we have.  That is our main focus and we will continue figuring out ways to make our khakis even better.

Q: What can you tell me about the process of making your khakis that makes them unique?
A: I don’t think it is one thing in particular, but more that each component and process that goes into creating the final product that makes it unique – the fabric, construction, fit, trimmings, style, and wash all combine to make the finished product the best.  There are no wasted steps - everything has a purpose.  

Q: As an American clothing manufacturer, how do you view the future of American clothing manufacturing?
A: I feel we are starting to see an improvement, which is exciting.  I think the increased awareness from the media and consumers, the current economic climate, job market, increased labor costs abroad, and the simple fact that people are starting to realize you are getting a top quality product from American manufacturers, all attribute to what hopefully is a strong recovery.  

Q: Your product line is intentionally small and you're focused on doing what you do extremely well but do you plan on adding to your lineup anytime soon and what can we look forward to from Jack Donnelly in the future?
A: We have plans to expand our line into different fabrics and colors, especially from a seasonal aspect, but plan to remain in the pant and short game.  Our khakis are extremely versatile, but we want to complement them with other fabrics/styles for different occasions.  Anything we do, we want to know it serves a purpose and addresses a need in the marketplace.  Specifically, we just released a British Khaki in our Dalton Pant and have a slim fit khaki and a longer inseam short coming out later this summer.

A big thank you to Gregg Donnelly for answering our questions!  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post when we'll take a closer look some actual JD pants and shorts.  You can find more info on Jack Donnelly Khakis on their website, follow them on Twitter or check them out on Facebook.

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