Meet the Owner of Baskit, Eric Schwers
How does a consultant on U.S. national security issues end up owning a men's underwear company? And how does someone who never worked for even a day in the clothing business make a success out of the one of the earliest names in men's underwear and apparel?
Meet Eric Schwers, a Colorado native, who spent the first 13 years of his career working as a consultant for U.S. and foreign countries around the world. Before taking the helm at Baskit, Eric worked on national security projects ranging from airport security, to the human slave trade and heroin trafficking. Exciting stuff, no doubt, but Eric missed working in business for himself.
In late 2006, Eric was living and working in London when he happened to go to dinner, through mutual friends, with the owners of the Baskit Underwear company. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! At one point, the owners mentioned selling the company, and that was all Eric needed to hear. "They had other offers, but I hounded them into selling to me," Eric says. "Having a personal relationship through our mutual friend and my enthusiasm for the brand made the difference."
Upon taking control of the company, Eric admittedly had no idea how to run a clothing company, but he did know something about business, how to negotiate, and how to recognize talent. Eric further explains, "I made a list of everything I didn't understand and then turned to people in the business who did." He kept the company's original designers and salespeople, and spent the next several months working to create the new look of the brand. The company had fallen into limbo, with many national department stores discontinuing the Baskit line because there wasn't enough product to fill orders and marketing for the company had all but disappeared. When Eric wasn't feverishly working with the factory and designers creating the new line, he was busy repairing relationships with buyers and stores and trying to invent a new marketing campaign.
Despite his lack of experience in the business, Eric is not afraid to call his own shots. Unlike a lot of the other underwear companies who have jumped on the bamboo and soy bandwagon, Eric has decided to stick with cotton as the fabric for Baskit. "Cotton wears well, is durable, " Eric explains, "and working with organic cotton will allow us to keep the environmentally-friendly integrity of the product."
Being socially conscious is great, but the new Baskit line also promises to be a lot of fun. "The two collections about which I'm most excited are the "Beauties" and the "Body Art" lines," Eric explains. Eric was visiting a friend on an Air Force base when he noticed the World War II-era paintings of pin-up girls on the fuselages of the planes, and the "Beauties" collection was born. Each pair of underwear in this collection has an image of a pin-up girl meticulously printed on the right leg of the garment. The "Beauties" were the sensation of the MAGIC apparel show in Las Vegas this summer where Eric re-launched the brand. The "Body Art" line is a recreation of a man's actual body tattoos. Eric was working out at a gym in London when he noticed a Japanese man whose entire body was covered with tattoos, or traditional Japanese body art. Eric asked to take a picture of his body, and later transferred the actual design of the tattoo art onto the underwear.
Eric is very excited about the future of Baskit. "Already, we've placed hundreds of orders nation-wide and will soon reappear in many of the stores which had carried Baskit in the past. I want the brand to be functional, but also fun and sexy, and most importantly, I want guys to get excited about buying and wearing the underwear." Traditionally, the buyers of men's underwear have been gay men and women who buy the underwear for their husbands, sons, boyfriends, etc. But Eric feels that straight guys will love the look of the new lines, just as much as the gay guys, and will feel completely comfortable not only buying it, but wearing it on any occasion.
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