Standing Out From the Pack
It should be noted that tons of companies are doing this “men’s lifestyle goods” thing. Few are doing it as well as Tanner Goods is. “For us, it’s process,” stresses Huff. The goal is the best product for the most people at the best price, sort of the opposite of what you imagine about a small-batch company’s goals. “I could have a factory in Texas making this stuff for a lot cheaper,” he says. “But now, because everything is done in house, if we have a quality issue with bags, I know right away.” That’s something not even larger “Made in the USA” brands can boast.
“We appreciate small things and bigger things,” says Lautz, who thinks the common thread for all Tanner Goods products is quality you can use on a daily basis. “Every day you pick up your belt and wallet. Every day, you make your morning coffee. What are the rituals that go along with that?”
Where’d the inspiration come from? For Huff, a little tome called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig’s ground-breaking, philosophical road trip novel. “Reading that book was the first time I ever really thought ‘What do “quality” and “value” mean?’” So what do they mean at Tanner Goods? “To me it means feeling like you got more than your money’s worth. We want to create products that have a really long aesthetic shelf life so people can enjoy them for years.”
“Not to be cliché, but it’s timeless,” notes Lautz. “You don’t need a wood-and-leather chair, but it’s nice to have. You’re not going to want to replace our stuff in a couple years because it has bright colors or some kooky font on it.”
Huff’s wife uses the term “price per wear.” “If you spend four hundred dollars on a pair of shoes you’re going to wear every day for the next five years, that’s an incredible price per wear value.” The key is to design something that will not just hold up, but be as stylish and relevant in five years as on the day you bought it.