Native Baltimorean Stuart Andrew Berman has only one week left to “kickstart” his latest menswear design — two-in-one cargo shorts that go from the beach to dinner. What makes this item special is not just that they’re made of a unique fabric — TransDRY, which wicks moisture away from the body; Berman is also designing and manufacturing the woven cotton in the United States.
“More than 80 percent of jobs in the garment industry have been lost,” said Berman, 41. “To manufacture my Ben Kona hybrid cargo shorts, I wanted to use this new fabric, but it was only for knits. We had to figure out how to engineer and dye a woven fabric for menswear. And we wanted to do it all in the U.S.”
That research has led to the Kickstarter project (kck.st/14HenMu), when he realized that no one stocks the patented yarn. Kickstarter projects are independently created and controlled; anyone can participate.
“We need $38,000 so we can manufacture it here,” said Berman. “It’s not an off-the-shelf product. If I want it, I have to create it.”
Berman, whose passion for the garment industry goes back to his great-grandparents’ slipcover business, owned (and designed for) Stuart Andrew, a luxury men’s sportswear/loungewear company, which sold in Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods of London and high-end East Coast specialty stores. His clothing line has been featured in the Saks Christmas catalog and other trade publications.
But he left New York City to return to his Baltimore roots, where met his wife, Amy (at a shiva call, no less). Married eight years, they’re the parents of two children.
A graduate of Pikesville High School, Berman attended Temple Oheb Shalom. His great-grandfather, Israel Gomborov, was a founder and the first president of Beth Tifloh Congregation, now the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in America. Berman’s father, Morris “Macy” Berman, died in 1995; his mother, Leslie, lives downtown.
“I have always loved the garment industry,” Berman said.
If he’s successful with the all-day shorts, he plans a line of men’s underwear. For more information, visit facebook.com/benkona.