Interview: Search and State – Cycling Apparel Made in NYC Mar 19, 2012

A few months back, I read a piece on Headset Press about Search and State, a new cycling apparel line that has been in the works for over a year. Run by Devin O’Brien and Daniel Golden, these two were inspired by NYC and its fashion industry. With so many resources available to them, they’ve been building their brand through a mixture of in-house problem solving and constant PR&D. In celebration of their newly-launched website and products, I asked them to take photos of their facilities in order to give us an isight as to just how they make their apparel in NYC.

Check it out below!

Hey guys, for any of my readers who haven’t heard of Search and State, can you briefly introduce the brand? How many people are working at SAS and where do you live?

Search and State is a cycling apparel manufacturer based in New York, founded by Devin O’Brien and myself (Daniel Golden). We started Search and State with the 2 of us, but in the past couple years have taken on quite a few partners who are part of the family now. I live in New York and Devin is in Minnesota.

What was the main motivation behind you beginning SAS?

We started Search and State to celebrate cycling from a different point of view. This meant creating an aesthetic that we love, a brand we believe in, and manufacturing in the heart of New York City. But most of all, we wanted to build something around our passion for cycling.

Usually, I think of NYC’s labor and overhead to be much higher than other cities: what made you chose New York as a base for production?

We didn’t even really consider making it anywhere else. Manufacturing in New York City allows us to create a product that is second to none. I have been a designer for 15 years working in some great fashion houses in New York and have manufactured clothes all over the world. What I’ve learned is that there really is no substitute for making product where you live with the best craftsmen and women in the industry. The ability to be in the sewing room every single day and oversee production is without question the best way to control the outcome of what you’re making. Almost every step of our manufacturing operation takes place within a 4-block radius in Midtown Manhattan…it’s really an amazing process to be looped into every day.

Ok, cycling jerseys seem easy enough. It’s just a tight, zippered shirt with pockets right? Explain what the biggest challenge for developing your line. 

You’re right, it is simple, but there are a lot of choices to be made. The challenge lies in the fabrics and trims you are going to use. Our fabric is exclusive to SAS and is made in North Carolina. That is special for us. We use a Riri zipper, which is known as one of the best zippers in the world and we decided to not use any commodity trims. Even the elastic inside our rear-pockets was considered at length, and we tested many before we found the right one. Besides all the trims and hardware, we really took on the challenge of getting the jersey to fit as perfect as we could to perform in any situation.

What did the factory make prior to SAS? Are they only producing your line? How hard was it to re-appropriate their facilities to make cycling apparel?

Our factory does make other product besides ours. They are a small facility and handle only a few high-end clients. We have a special relationship with them and are really fortunate to be able to make our garments there. These types of sewing rooms are great because you can’t just look them up on-line and they are difficult to get into; you almost have to be invited in. We chose them because they are one of the best in all of New York, and they also had experience with technical active-wear and stretch-fabrics. Knowing how to work with lycra and performance fabrics is critical and requires a specific skill-set.

How many pieces are you producing per run?

Right now we are comfortable doing runs of a few hundred pieces at a time. That keeps it manageable for everyone and we literally see every piece we sell. That’s how we like it.

So right now, you’ve got a jacket and a jersey available, what’s next? Bibs?

We have been making proto-type bibs and testing them for a year already so they will be coming soon. We are really particular with our products, so we do invest quite a bit of time into them before they are available. You can expect some additional jersey colors for summer and some new outerwear pieces for fall.

What do you say to people that scoff at the prices of a made in the USA product like this?

That perception is definitely out there when it comes to American-made goods but I don’t think you’ll scoff at our prices. From day one Devin and I agreed to not get caught up in the exclusive, super high-price market. That meant challenging ourselves to make a product that is best in class, priced competitively and is built to last. I think we succeeded.

Finally, what’s your favorite after work beverage? 

A Manhattan on the rocks is a fine way to reflect on the day… or erase it, depending on your mood.

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I’d like to thank Devin and Daniel for these great photos and their time to answer these questions. They just launched their site today, so head over and check it out. Hopefully, they’ll be having a Manhattan on Friday afternoon in celebration of a great week. I’ll be acquiring some of their product to review but these photos should give you an idea of the caliber of work they’re producing.

For those who would like to purchase some SAS apparel, here are some links:

The S1-A Riding Jersey retails for $125

The S1-J Riding Jacket retails for $245

Both are handmade in NYC

Find out more here, at Search & State and follow them on Twitter

  • Steve

    Really cool! I think these guys are contenders and good competition to other higher end cycling apparel companies but, with some good firm solid roots. I also think the prices are fair for the quality of the garment regardless of it’s manufacturing origin. Also thanks for mentioning our original article. So good to see everyone getting behind them, they deserve it for having the balls to try it! 
    Cheers Headset Press Steve. 

  • recur

    Their stuff looks plainly solid, with a Rapha-esque lack of branding.  Glad to see there’s another company filling out this niche.

  • Dmrbrad

    It’s exciting stuff seeing new passionate brands popping up.The guys seem to have a real drive for everything cycling and it’s apparel is about.Good luck to them and i hope the products make their way over to the U.K.

  • http://twitter.com/dagbert dagbert

    “…We chose them because they are one of the best in all of New York,
    and they also had experience with technical active-wear and
    stretch-fabrics.” Sounds like they’re sharing a production floor with Outlier?

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Nah, Outlier has their own team.

  • Caroline

    This is exciting!