Cone Mills Closure: Denim Brands React

Last month I wrote about the the sad news of the Cone Denim White Oak plant in Greensboro, N.C. shutting it’s doors. It was the last selvedge denim plant operating in the United States, and it’s been heavy on my mind. It’s the end of American Denim as we know it, and that terribly significant, since there are few things more American than bluejeans.

So I was glad to see that the New York Times wrote a feature about the closure, digging into why it happened and how the mill’s denim makers and former employees are reacting.

“It’s a national tragedy,” Michael Williams, founder of A Continuous Lean, told the NYT. “The mill represents tradition, pride and the expertise that gets woven into some of the world’s most revered fabrics. History can’t be rewritten, and when the plant closes, Americans will have lost yet another piece of our national identity.”

Tellason’s Tony Patella, lamented consumers who “simultaneously complain about imported products, job loss and low wages, and then buy their jeans at Costco, with the same brand name as the bacon, toilet paper and dish soap in their cart,” said Tony Patella, a founder of Tellason, based in San Francisco, in a reference to Costco’s Kirkland brand.

The bottom line for Cone was, well, the bottom line.

Many denim brands told the NYT they’ll be sourcing their denim from Japan, where the denim culture is possibly even more American than it is in America.

And Brad Bennett of Well Spent put the news into perspective:

“Considering just how bad the news has been lately, the Cone Mills closing is easy to feel unfazed by—or, at least, to lose in the fray. That’s not to say it’s not still a colossal bummer. But compared to mass deportations, senseless spree killings and environmental decimation, it’s small potatoes.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

[Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash]


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