It’s hard for a company to thrive for over 50 years in the fashion business if the foundation isn’t strong. Among our upscale, discriminating clients, we’ve built an international reputation of excellence by delivering it. But it all started with very humble beginnings.
Over 50 years ago, Bernhard Brenner came to America as a young, inspired and talented knitting engineer from Europe with a singular vision: “To make the finest sweater that can be made.” He was familiar with the finest mills in Western Europe and realized that no knitting mill of that caliber existed yet in the United States. His vision was to create one. Amid the scenic bluffs of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, Mr. Brenner founded Knitcraft Corporation with the belief that this beautiful countryside and the strong work ethic of its residents would be key to achieving his vision.
Like all true entrepreneurs, he started with his first machine in his basement. With borrowed money, charm, talent and long hours, he gradually accumulated a few more machines, a customer or two and his first employee while working for other area knitters.
By 1964 Brenner moved to his first dedicated manufacturing location in the former Albert’s Grocery Store building. He moved his 6 people and a few pieces of equipment to continue his singular objective: to make the finest garments in the world.
It wasn’t easy. While building the business, Mr. Brenner wore all the hats. He ran the machinery, designed, made the samples, ordered the supplies, repaired mistakes, contacted the customers and sold the garments. As he hired employees he had to train them on specific techniques of construction and quality knitting. Because his concepts were so unique, Mr. Brenner had to plot his own course right from the start. And since the St. Croix label was a new name in the market place, Mr. Brenner had to train all his customers, his suppliers, his employees and his backers to understand and believe in his philosophy.
Today, the grocery store is gone and a 90,000 square foot modern manufacturing facility stands in its place. Inside are 200 highly trained and dedicated craftspeople manufacturing the St. Croix garments by hand, which are recognized as the finest in the world. And Mr. Brenner is still in the thick of it—shaping designs, fixing machines, and seeking perfection through unparalleled craftsmanship. He’s become a cornerstone of the men’s luxury sportswear industry, and is respected around the world for his knowledge, commitment and integrity.
We are proud of our legacy and proud of the craftsmanship of our St. Croix garments. We’re proud to represent the best in quality and fashion. Mr. Brenner would be quick to tell you that it’s our people—their craft and their caring—that safeguards the heritage of St. Croix. It’s a rock-solid foundation 50-plus years in the making.