As a Kansas City native, Baldwin holds a special place in my heart (and my denim closet). Originating from a small boutique in 2003, Baldwin has become a leading label for the trend-setters and hipsters of Kansas City. Just 15 years later, Baldwin has expanded to cities like New York and LA, and has been sported by stars including Jay Z, Ellen Degeneres and George Clooney. So how did a small midwestern brand take over the leading fashion cities in the country as a premium denim label?
In 2003, Matt Baldwin and wife Emily moved back to their hometown of Kansas City to start Standard Style Boutique. After a few years of successfully growing the store, Matt Baldwin began BALDWIN in 2009. BALDWIN was created to deliver a sophisticated yet authentic, classic American line of denim to the Kansas City market. The brand’s popularity quickly took off in Kansas City’s eagerily growing fashion market. Yet, BALDWIN was still largely a Kansas City brand.
Finally, in 2013 BALDWIN gained national attention when GQ named it “one of the four best new menswear designers in the country.” Soon after, BALDWIN partnered with Gap to sell an exclusive 12-piece collection across the globe. In the midst of gaining global attention, BALDWIN still honored its Kansas City roots by creating the signature KC hat. The hate began as an “ode to Kansas City. A way to show enthusiasm and pride for our hometown. A throwback to the brand’s roots.” Matt Baldwin was excited “to be able to shine a light back on the city I love.” The hat soon became a signature token of Kansas City pride and an iconic piece of BALDWIN’s collection.
BALDWIN has finally taken the brand national, opening stores in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Jose. The brand is now sold in about 100 stores and upscale department stores such as Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman. Throughout the department store and big city success, BALDWIN still focuses on their midwestern heritage and their motto that they are “Built on Authenticity. Designed in Kansas City” through their Flint Hills-themed store designs. New York and Los Angeles stores are designed behind the idea of a “Prairie in the City” by featuring waving wheat in the windows and prairie tables to mirror the typography of the Flint Hills in Kansas. Even the standard dressing room is designed to replicate a silo typically seen in the plains of the midwest. While BALDWIN has gone global, they remain a brand focused on attention to detail and delivering their customers the most raw denim possible.
So what started as a local Kansas City denim label has transformed into a national brand catering to the latest trends and the lovers of authentic denim. BALDWIN has risen from the ground up and has shown the world the power of a good fit, because to Matt Baldwin, “a pair of great denim is just indigenously American.” And throughout all of the brand’s immense success, Matt has proved his own authenticity by always standing behind the BALDWIN motto to “#REPYOURHOOD.”
Written by Katherine Grabowsky
Edited by Julia Sawchak