Wrangler has always called Greensboro, North Carolina home. Opening their doors in 1947, the storied American brand recently just celebrated their 70th anniversary. And with this celebration, they’ve introduced their 27406 Collection, a line of denim products made by them right in Greensboro.
For years, their Service Support Center, located just a few miles up the road from their headquarters, has been churning out prototype samples and developing washes. Though it’s the first time they’re opening up their SSC to a full production line, don’t think that this is their first rodeo. In fact, most of the sewers there are Greensboro natives and have over 20 years of experience sewing head-to-toe garments for men, women, and children.
The collection places an emphasis not only on made-in-USA production, but hyper-localizes the focus to their own zip code — 27406 — paying homage to the city of Greensboro itself. While the cut-and-sew process happens in Greensboro, the collection also exclusively uses denim from the legendary Cone Mills White Oak plant, which also calls Greensboro home. With a product that’s made this close to home, it’s hard not to have a strong sense of pride sewn into each piece. Wrangler’s Vice President/General Manager of Modern Lifestyle, Jenni Broyles, adds,
“There’s a sense of hometown pride and a true connection since everyone that touches this product or plays a part in its creation is an employee of Wrangler, also living locally, right here in ‘Jeansboro’, North Carolina. In addition, it’s exciting for customers to understand where their products are made. With this collection, you can truly see the localization given the designs are created, the fabric is loomed, and the product is sewn within 3 miles. It makes it real.”
In the limited collection, you’ll find archival pieces with updated fits. For instance, the denim jacket in the collection dates all the way back to 1964. If you’ve ever been thrift shopping, you likely have come across Wrangler’s distinctive denim jacket with its curved chest pocket flaps and slanted waist pockets. This one uses 13oz. American selvedge denim with orange selvedge details throughout and it’s one of just 88.
Speaking to the jeans, Broyles details, “The bottoms have been made using authentic western details and follow the 7 icons of Wrangler jeans – “W” stitched back pockets with leather Wrangler branded patch, flat rivets so you don’t scratch your saddle (or leather seats!), and 7 belt loops, just to name a few.” The run of jeans is also limited to just 149 pairs total, with each pair individually stamped, numbered, and signed by the sewer who completed it.
But you might notice something a bit unusual in the 27406 Collection, if you look closely enough. Wrangler’s been a longtime proponent of broken twill denim, but the entire collection uses a more ubiquitous and classic right hand twill (for further reading, turn to our guide on twills). Broyles explains,”We wanted to add the unique combination of not only sewing the garments in a small prototype facility, but using premium fabrics and selvedge that has been woven on the last remaining vintage shuttle looms still operating in the U.S.”
Which brings us to the elephant in the room. The closure of America’s longest-standing selvedge denim mill is a huge blow not only to denim, but to history. And, the timing of White Oak’s closure and the release of the 27406 Collection is just another unfortunate coincidence. From Broyles,
“Wrangler has a long-standing history with Cone Mills White Oak. We are neighbors and really embrace both the Greensboro community, and denim community together. They have always been great partners in allowing us to do tours of the plant and working on special developments, as needed. The closing of White Oak is a great loss not only locally, but nationwide. The US will have to become more resourceful in attaining premium fabrics, especially selvedge. Unfortunately, the closing will impact the origin of the fabric we use, but we will still take pride in using our own Service Support Center located in 27406 to produce handcrafted garments that still tell a great story.”
Though they might not have known it when first setting out to create the 27406 Collection, the story Wrangler would tell with the collection’s first run would be one of a historical denim mill at the end their own pages. While this makes the 27406 Collection even more limited, the closure of Cone Mills White Oak is sobering. It’s a step backward, yes. But, until American-made selvedge denim rises from the ashes, continuing the fight against the decline of American manufacturing will mean keeping the hands at home busy building.
Learn more about Wrangler’s 27406 collection, visit their website.
Images courtesy of Wrangler.