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History & Values

History & Values

Charles River Apparel was founded in 1983 by Walter Lipsett, who envisioned a clothing line that combined the New England concepts of value and performance. For the first few years the company sold mainly rainwear for men, women and children exclusively to large retail stores. Walter sold the business to his son Barry in 1993 after Walter and Barry brought the business into the promotional products industry for which they knew would allow them to grow the company nationwide. This emerging market along with the college bookstore market, gave the company its signature styles that are still in the line today.

Charles River Apparel is now a third generation family-owned business that employs over seventy-five people and has a nationwide sales force; a far cry from the original five employees that made up the company. The company's distribution channels have also grown as they now sell through more than 13,000 distributors nationwide in retail, sporting goods, promotional products, college bookstores and resort stores.

The Rower – the Mantra for Charles River Apparel
Charles River Apparel's name is derived from the Charles River. The Charles River runs 80 miles throughout Massachusetts and is a popular spot for college and club rowing. Company Founder Walter Lipsett spent time rowing on the Charles River during college and fondly remembered the teamwork and effort that went into the sport. The Charles River is also host to the Head of the Charles Regatta, one of the largest rowing events in the world and is subject of the famed song by the Standell's "Love That Dirty Water."

Charles River Apparel incorporates the theme and values of rowing into all aspects of the company. Barry Lipsett, President and CEO, has a business philosophy he calls Power 10™. This term, borrowed from the sport of rowing, calls for all members of a rowing team to do ten of their most powerful strokes to stay ahead of the competition. The essential values of rowing: perseverance, determination and above all, teamwork, are the characteristics that continue to uniquely define Charles River Apparel. The company uses the mantra Power 10 for an employee recognition program that awards those who go above and beyond for customers and the company as well as for their popular Power 10 Inventory Stocking program that heavily stocks the most popular colors and styles so customers can get them at a moment's notice.

The Look of Charles River Apparel
Charles River Apparel prides itself on designing their entire apparel line in-house – something few manufacturers in the industry can claim. The company distinguishes itself from the competition by staying on top of the latest color trends and by designing "boutique" styles that are uniquely Charles River. The company carefully selects the "right" assortment - specifically choosing not to have every type of garment but those that will uniquely represent the brand and those are wear it.