2023 Top Suppliers: How Edwards Garment Found Success In a 'Normal Year'
As part of Print & Promo Marketing's 2023 Top Suppliers list, we asked some of the top-ranked suppliers about how they managed to continue their growth throughout the uncertainty that has still loomed over 2021 and 2022.
Read on for our conversation with Bryan Kiel, director of marketing for Edwards Garment, the No. 2 supplier on our list. Or, download the full Top Suppliers resource for the complete interviews, detailed stats and analysis for the Top Suppliers list, and results of our 2023 Supplier Excellence Awards
Edwards Garment - No. 10
2022 sales: $99,600,000
Kalamazoo, Michigan 1
80 employees, two locations
Established in 1867
Bryan Kiel, director of marketing for Edwards Garment, says 2022 was the best year ever for the company. Through a combination of factors, the company saw 41% growth year-over-year. But perhaps what made the biggest difference was that it was what Kiel calls the first “normal year,” as the dust finally settled after the establishment of the EdwardsX brand, formerly Bishop Custom Clothing, which Edwards acquired in November 2019.
That investment, in Kiel’s words, helped the company demonstrate to its distributor customers as well as end-buyers the company’s deep inventory and custom design capabilities. Inventory, in 2022, was a hot issue, as pandemic effects were still felt throughout the industry, and supply chain issues and manufacturing problems continued deep into the year.
“Our inventory position was one of the best in the apparel industry, and when distributors were looking for inventory, we had it,” Kiel says. “Our leadership and planning teams had the foresight to invest in inventory as well as source in multiple regions, and this helped us reap the benefits in 2022 while many others suffered supply chain issues.”
What They’re Focused On: “We are focused on several things to end 2023 off strong and continue our momentum into 2024,” Kiel says. “Our 2024 catalog just dropped on Sept. 1, and this catalog features some great new styles, including increasing the range of our apparel options for ladies. Most of our men’s styles already have a ladies’ companion, and we launched some new styles, including ladies’ soft blouses, a retail-inspired herringbone jacket, and a lightweight soft shell jacket, among others.”
Edwards is also growing awareness for its Point Grey brand, which it launched in March 2022, and is made up of sustainable, ergonomic styles that “speak to the uniform wearer of today,” and reflect the modern looks used by businesses in the modern age.
What Distributors Can Look Forward To: “We will continue to bring more retail-inspired styles to market in 2024,” Kiel says. “And when it comes to our custom team at EdwardsX, if you can dream it, they can make it.”