21. April 2017
Die Geschichte der Knickerbocker geht bis ins Jahr 1809 zurück. Da nannte man sie noch Schlumpferhosen und Schriftsteller Washington Irving kleidete seine Romanfigur Jansen Knickerbocker in die Kniehose. Als Siedler aus Holland kommend lebte Jansen in Neu Amsterdam, heute New York, und wahrscheinlich weil es für die New Yorker einfacher war und ihnen die Hosen gefielen, nannten sie sie Knickerbocker. Und alle, die das Buch lasen, verbreiteten die Mode-News.
Durch Zufall entdeckt Andrew Livingston die alte Fabrik von Steven Watman an der Grenzen von Queens und Brooklyn. Den Rest der Geschichte kann er viel besser im Original erzählen:
Knickerbocker Mfg. Co. began in the spring of 2013. Every step of its creation is rooted in the idea of community. For some in the picture it meant a passing of the torch and for some it meant a carrying of the torch. No matter which side you were on, the goal was simple, continue that story, hold onto tradition for when tradition dies so does a piece of us. Let that story belong to all of us. Let it inspire others to build their own. Let it be the light at the end of our tunnel and let our creations live beyond our years. As long as the story is alive we all have something to be remembered by and to remember those; the ones who made and continue to make our community what it is.
Steven Watman, the proprietor of a sixty year old family owned manufacturing company, was the man who passed that torch on to us. Many wonder and we often do to, how was it that this fell in our lap? I don’t believe much in coincidences.
In 2012 I was searching through an old factory directory, when I came across Watman’s factory and what came to be Knickerbocker Mfg. Co.. At that same time, I was working on another product related project with Kyle Mosholder and Daniel Rickard Guy, the two whom I founded Knickerbocker with. Watman and I had now been working together nearly seven or eight months when he sprung the idea of buying the factory onto me.
I remember that day like yesterday, it was gloomy, a bit chilly and I went over to Dan’s place in Bedstuy. We sat on his couch, drinking that rocket fuel, Cafe Bustello, as we fired off ideas about the opportunity at hand. The next day I was at Kyle’s studio down in Greenpoint where we had the same conversation. The next week we were all sitting there together. Shortly after that, we made our decision and we found ourselves sitting there with Watman.
There we were, in his dingy, cold office, a few space heaters on each side. We had an offer at this time but no funds to entertain. Our voices were excited and frightened all at the same time. We knew what we were going to say but we didn’t know who was going to say it first. „Steven, we would like to purchase the factory,“ I said stupidly. Well, of course we wanted to purchase the factory. Then Dan, daringly after, „we’ll give you $15,000 for it.“
Watman didn’t think twice. He held out his hand, we stood from our chairs, shook each other’s hands and we had a deal. That day, Steven Watman allowed for the story to carry on; it became clear this was never about the money. This was about something much bigger than any of us can ever be, it was about our community. About taking care of what his father left, about taking care of his prized worker Felix Pantaleon, about keeping the tradition alive and so much more that I can only imagine he still holds in his heart, as well as his memories. These are the people we aim to make proud, the ones who instill tradition and community into us. The ones who give us the tools and the means to carry the torch forward. He continued the fellowship that day and we hope to do the same. We owe this to those before us and to those who come after us.
Knickerbocker was originally founded as a private label manufacturing company to service our community of fellow designers and makers. In effort to make a more profound impact, I have since founded the brand Knickerbocker; an eager attempt to make our goods available to everyone.
In my modest belief it is man’s greatest challenge to build something bigger than yourself, to build something that genuinely means as much to others as it does to you and inspire them to go on and do the same.