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The Smithsonian Visits Buffalo’s Oxford Pennant

Photo Courtesy Oxford Pennant

A Smithsonian Institution project aims to show young people that history isn’t just about “presidents and wars” but also “pennants and T-shirts and the history of manufacturing.”

The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a big fan of Oxford Pennant, a Buffalo manufacturer known for its high-quality wool felt pennants, banners, and flags. The Made in the USA maker specializes in making nostalgic products, but it is also helping to bring new life back to one of America’s great industrial cities. We’ve even had cofounder Dave Horesh on The Manufacturing Report podcast twice, most recently in 2021.

As it turns out, we aren’t the only fans of the Buffalo brand.

In fall 2022, the Smithsonian Institution sent Caroline Kilbanoff, director of the Made by Us project, to visit Oxford Pennant to learn about the history of the pennant and how the Buffalo company is keeping that history alive today. In a series of Instagram Reels, Horesh and cofounder Brett Mikoll give Kilbanoff a tour of the Oxford Pennant factory, talk about the rich history of manufacturing in Buffalo, and explain how they take inspiration from the past in making their products today.

Made By Us is described as an “unprecedented collaboration of nonpartisan history and civics organizations joining forces to ignite and inform youth civic participation.” Dozens of partner organizations are involved, from museums across the country to groups like the American Philosophical Society and Generation Citizen.

So, it’s exciting to see Oxford Pennant get recognized by Made By Us, especially considering that an American manufacturer is being held up as part of outreach to younger people. Getting a glimpse of Oxford Pennant’s sleek, modern workspace showcases what modern manufacturing can look like — and Horesh is able to highlight in the videos how Buffalo’s manufacturing history is now a huge asset to modern makers.

“When we were first starting our company, we had an idea but we didn’t know how to make it,” Horesh explains in the first reel. “And so we were able to take advantage of the fact that Buffalo has a 200-year manufacturing history, and actually a lot of companies that manufactured apparel and worked in sewing and distributed thread, and so Buffalo was a good market to start our business, simply because there was the infrastructure here for us to try out an idea. Lots of people to help us, lots of consultants, lots of companies that make different things that we ultimately ended up using in our manufacturing process.”

Be sure to check out all three reels on Instagram, and if you missed our podcast episodes with Horesh, you can listen below.

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