Alas, the Coronavirus closures aren’t over. From huge-profile bankruptcies at places like J. Crew and J.C. Penney, to rumblings of imminent restructuring à la Brooks Brothers, we haven’t had much good news lately.
In a move that has become all too familiar in the covid era, Gitman Bros. announced plans to close their Ashland, PA factory. With 88 employees, the Ashland factory has produced clothing for the eponymous Gitman brothers, even before they had their own company. Since 1952, when Max Gitman moved his family and his 20 year old private label business down to Schuylkill county, the factory has been up and running, producing high-end made-in-America shirting. When the twin Gitman brothers launched their first brand, it was called Ashland Shirt & Pajama Co. and only in 1978 did the company gain its current name.
As with many of these closures, the writing was on the wall. Until 2007, Gitman had produced all Burberry shirts and had even built a distribution center to keep up with demand. When Burberry moved their production overseas, the Ashland staff was reduced by nearly half. The full closure of the factory will not only lay off 88 people, but will mark the demise of Schuylkill County’s very last apparel manufacturing facility.
A report in Skook News, a local paper, said that employees will be offered jobs at a number of out-of-state facilities, but a second report, days later, in the Reading Eagle makes no mention of this offer. This source says the company told the state that the layoffs will be permanent.
As of now, the production of Gitman Vintage and Gitman Bros. will be moved to the Measure Up factory in Lafayette, TN. Chris Olberding, the President of Sales for the company attempted to assuage any misgivings consumers might have about the move,
“Although most people don’t realize it, Measure Up began providing custom and made-to-order services for Gitman dating back to the early 1990s, so the Gitman DNA already runs deep in Tennessee. We anticipate that this heritage, coupled with the relocation of many skilled sewers to Measure Up, will provide for a seamless transition.”
Though Gitman Bros. maintain some of their American manufacturing facilities, the loss of the Ashland is a grave one. Losing something so integral to the identity of the brand, may prove a harbinger of tougher times ahead.