The Last American Selvage Denim Mill Is Closing

One standard that Rokotoff has committed to over his 5 years in business has been to make all of his products in the United States with denim that was also loomed here. But when 2017 ends, that commitment will become impossible.

White Oak Cone Mills in Greensboro, North Carolina, will shut down its looms for good on December 31 of this year. It was the last selvedge denim mill standing in the United States, so unless another one opens, it’s the end of made-in-U.S.A. selvedge jeans.

Selvedge denim is produced on old-school shuttle looms, which create a finished edge that won’t fray, recognizable by a thin strip of red thread. It’s the best quality denim you can get, and it’s more expensive than other denim. So what about that regular, mass-produced denim, which the majority of jeans is made of?

One-hundred twelve years after being founded, Cone Mills’s White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina will shut its doors on December 31, 2017, making it the last selvage denim mill in the United States to close its doors.

International Textile Group announced this decision in a press release which you can read below:

“For more than 125 years Cone Denim has defined American denim and authenticity with the White Oak mill representing the essence of Cone’s heritage,” said Kenneth T. Kunberger, President & CEO of Cone Denim and International Textile Group. “We truly regret having to take this action to close the mill, and we deeply appreciate the loyalty and dedication of all current and former employees of the White Oak mill. Their talent, effort, innovation, dedication, and customer focus all combined to create a White Oak brand, heritage, and legacy that will forever be the heart of the Cone Denim business.”

Having been operated continuously since its founding in 1905, the White Oak Plant has been hit hard by waning demand for shuttle-loomed fabric as customers have turned to cheaper fabrics from abroad.

However, Cone Denim has assured its customers that all orders will be honored up until the closing of the mill.

As it turns out, despite so much talk about the importance of American-made goods, most consumers (and most large corporations) don’t have the stomach for American-made pricing. The literal bottom line is it’s more expensive to staff American factories and produce goods using them than it is to outsource overseas or south of the border. Two-hundred people will lose their jobs when White Oak closes (although hopefully they have some prospects).

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