Cone Mills is one of the last remaining manufacturers of selvedge denim in the United States. Their textile factory in Greensboro, North Carolina turns out quality raw denim around the clock, and many top brands swear by the White Oak factory’s denim.
Though most people know and recognize the name, most do not know the story of the company, how the denim is produced, and why it is renowned for its quality and durability.
The Cone Mills we know today was originally established in 1891 by Moses and Caesar Cone as a textile manufacturing plant primarily focused on flannels. In 1905, the Cone Brothers purchased the White Oak plant, named for a 200-year old tree that stood on the property, in Greensboro, North Carolina. At this point they began to manufacture their famous denim on shuttle looms, some of which are still in use today.
By 1908, they were the largest denim manufacturer in the world. Cone Mills was best known for suppling Levi Strauss and Co. with their denim, something they did from 1915 until Levi’s began to move production overseas. Positively, Levi’s has recently began to source some denim from Cone Mills again.
Cone Mills continued to produce denim in various styles for various brands throughout the century. However, in 2003, with business steadily declining, the Cone Mills Company filed for bankruptcy. In 2004, billionaire Wilbur Ross purchased the company, along with others, and formed the International Textile Group.
Today, Cone Mills White Oak denim, still produced in Greensboro, North Carolina goes hand-in-hand with both quality and the resurgence of American made goods.
The company’s signature selvedge denim is still woven on American Draper x3 fly shuttle looms from the 1940’s. The company asserts that the fabric woven on these looms has a “depth and dimension” that is unique to Cone Mills denim. They even claim that the turn of the century wood flooring that the machines sit on create a unique rhythm that is woven into the fabric. These antiquated machines, combined with loyal and skilled employees, some of which have been working at the White Oak plant for 50+ years, all contribute to the old world quality of Cone Mills denim.
Many companies still look to Cone Mills for their denim needs because they are one of the last quality selvedge denim producers in the United States. Cone Mills also produces an incredibly durable and unique denim that is admired by both manufacturers of denim as well as consumers.
Cone Mills denim is used by many of the top denim producers today, including:
- Levi’s Vintage Clothing
- Raleigh Denim
- Left Field
- Rising Sun
- Post O’ Alls
- Ande Whall
- Mister Freedom
- Railcar Fine Goods
- Jack Spade
- Freemans Sporting Club
- And many more…