Ball and Buck has become synonymous with Made-in-America in one of the country’s most American cities. (The last four digits of their telephone number are 1776, which was definitely intentional.) Founded in 2008, the outdoor apparel and accessories company curates a killer lineup of house-made products and other brands, all tailored toward the “sporting gentleman,” as founder Mark Bollman, a Babson College alumnus, likes to put it.
We integrated advanced materials to make cutting edge products that retain the quality we have become known for.
After numerous collaborations with big-name brands like New Balance, a growing host of American Field events along the East Coast, and the cultivation of their own line of rugged apparel and products, the brand just recently announced the rollout of its first-ever Active + Collection, “featuring technical fabrics like Nylon Taslan and Coolmax” designed to be “moisture wicking, breathable, and water repellent.”
It’s been described to me as a “natural evolution for the brand,” and I was curious to hear from Bollman what that means for the company, exactly. He still loves wool and canvas, of course, but there’s a benefit to innovating on nature’s best fabrics to bring them more in line with current consumer tastes. And, not surprisingly for Bollman, this Active line is just the beginning of what he’s got in store for the brand.
Alex E. Weaver: Describe the Active collection to me – what pieces does it entail?
Mark Bollman: Our active + products use technical fabrics to enhance their in-field qualities. Staying true to our classic and timeless style, we integrated advanced materials known for their performance properties to make cutting edge products that retain the quality we have become known for. For example, on our Hunter’s Shirt +, Ash Creek we took a classic oxford fabric construction but used a Cotton/Polyester blend to give the shirt breathability and moisture-wicking properties thereby keeping you cool on those hot days on the boat or beach. The Anglers Shirt + uses a water resistant Nylon Taslan to make sure the water beads right off your shirt when you’re fishing after a long day in the office.
AEW: Ball and Buck is known as a rugged, heritage outdoors apparel company to most. Why did you decide to expand the portfolio from wool and canvas to tech-heavy, moisture-wicking fabrics?
MB: Our ear is always to the ground; this has been something that our customers have been requesting for quite some time. As a company that prides itself on meaningful innovation as much as quality, we were excited to incorporate technical materials into our field proven garments.
AEW: How does this new line reconcile with Ball and Buck’s roots and mission?
MB: Our mission is to create the highest quality products in the world. While we love the natural look of cotton and wool, there is an opportunity to bring innovative materials into products for customers needing that extra bit of performance so they don’t have to settle for inferior quality when it comes to technical clothing. We’ve now added stretch, moisture-wicking, cooling, and water-repelling properties to our arsenal.
AEW: Who is the target audience for this stuff?
MB: It’s always been top of mind to craft our apparel be both functional in the field and comfortable on the city streets. Details such as double needle stitching and elbow patches were just the start. These new products incorporate performance materials so we can continue to raise the benchmark in terms of quality and performance.
AEW: What’s next for BaB?
MB: Building a strong bond with our customers has always been integral with our mission and why we developed and launched two of our most successful products on Kickstarter. Over the next few months we we will be launching The Hatchery, as we call it — a web-based platform that will enable customers to be a part of the design and development process for the next wave of product innovations at Ball and Buck. Programs like this will not only allow us to establish a stronger relationship with our customers, but enable us to bring better and more innovative products to market in a shorter timeline.