The last American selvage denim factory, the Cone Denim White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, will be shutting its doors.
The New York Times reports that the factory has been making its vintage selvage denim, which is produced on old shuttle looms the way denim originally was made, for nearly 112 years. The plant was acquired by a private equity firm a year ago, which announced their plans to close the factory.
As manufacturing jobs continue to leave the country, despite President Trump’s repeated cries for rebooting American industries, the plant’s closing is devastating to the roughly 200 employees whose jobs will be laid off. And now, brands like Tellason, Buck Mason and Taylor Stitchm who all used Cone Denim, are reportedly going to look for Japan for their stock. The country has a reputation for producing vintage selvage denim starting in the 1960s, when Japanese fabric companies looked to American vintage Levi’s for inspiration. The irony is that Levi’s iconic 501 jeans were long made using Cone Denim.
“The mill represents tradition, pride and the expertise that gets woven into some of the world’s most revered fabrics,” founder of menswear site A Continuous Lean Michael Williams told the Times about the plant’s closing. “History can’t be rewritten, and when the plant closes, Americans will have lost yet another piece of our national identity.”