Once there was a tree, growing and growing and growing. It had roots that probably could cover the area of 20 football pitches and the branches could be seen from every point of the world. The tree was cold-blooded like a reptile and very sensitive about what’s going around it. It wasn't just a tree everyone were looking up to- there really was something magical about it...
The White Oak couldn't exist and be as respected as it is without little witches and wizards that kept the tree alive. They were the most important resource for the White Oak. They were living not that far from the holy nature symbol and they came near the tree every day for over 112 years. Sons and daughters from different generations worked side by side and the magic outcome was denim – blue blood of the White Oak.
I guess you have heard about a company called Levi’s. Have you ever wondered where does all the denim fabric come from? The story goes back to the 19th century, 1893. The Cone Denim company was formed by the brothers Moses and Ceasar Cone. They purchased a little more than 8 square kilometres of land in Greensboro and built the first plant. The start was successful and with the help of Sternberg brothers, they expanded business with the opening of the Revolution mill in 1898, which was offering different flannel styles.
The company built villages for workers around each of the mills. There were all the buildings that make a village to a functioning village- churches, schools, recreation centers, stores, playing fields and houses for the workers. By saying ’ it had roots that probably could cover the area of 20 football pitches’ I emphasize the volume of the Cone Mills.
White Oak, their largest denim plant, was opened in April 1905. The name comes from the old White Oak tree that grew nearby and it has become a true trademark of selvedge denim. Cone Denim started to collaborate with Levi’s in 1915 and this is the year of ’The Golden Handshake’. By saying ’the branches could be seen from every point of the world’ I mean jeans that people are wearing all around the world.
If you own a pair of American-made jeans, like Levi’s Vintage, Raleigh, Tellason, Leftfield, Baldwin or 3x1, the denim comes from Cone. The reason people still want jeans made in Cone Mills is simple: the fabrics at their White Oak plant are woven on the same Draper X3 shuttle looms the company bought in the 1940s, which gives the denim a stiffer hand and slubbier texture compared to more modern manufacturing techniques. And of course- selvedge!
Jeans were still made with Draper X3 looms into the 1970s but then something happened- comfort and greed started to become popular. Automated looms appeared and selvedge looms became outmoded. New looms allowed companies to churn out more fabric at a faster rate and most importantly for less money. Another economic trend that undermined American denim manufacturing was moving the production to countries with cheaper labor cost. Levi’s, for an example, did exactly like that. Luckily Cone Mills White Oak managed to keep going despite these economic forces.
In December 2017, Cone Mills was shut down. Problem was the same- globalization. Consumers need clothes that are already with a great fit, cheap, and they want it quickly. We suggest you to be patient and choose carefully what may be the next update in the wardrobe. The price will be higher but the piece will serve you for years. Most of the people probably do not have an idea why some things are more expensive than others and we would really like to educate you step by step. In the end it isn’t about the price but the way we think.
We respect the hard work that was done in Greensboro and Cone Mills really was a historic landmark. We praise all the workers that have been a part of the facility. There are companies that are true to their beliefs and they won’t leave original American denim decompose in the corner. Cone Mills fought the fight but lost it honourably. Now it is up to makers and consumers to preserve this legacy by opening a smaller-scale selvedge factory, or leave the heritage collect dust.
Once there was a tree, growing and growing and growing. It had roots that probably could cover the area of 20 football pitches and the branches could be seen from every point of the world. The tree was cold-blooded like a reptile and very sensitive about what’s going around it. It wasn't just a tree everyone were looking up to- there really was something magical about it..