DENIM-Made in the USA


PART I: pub. 10/17/2011 #denim

The denim market is one of the most aggressive growing apparel markets in history that has directly affected our social normality; running parallel to that of computer electronics. Cotton prices have risen to an all time high; causing the denim industry to adjust. Demands for consumer price stability and margin maintenance have become two of the most important business aspects that are causing all businesses to refine their strategies during our questionable economic times. Thus, sending many manufactured goods overseas to be produced in order to keep companies in business and consumers happy with the prices they are used to. Denim has been coined an “American thing” however, are we loosing that “nickname” as more denim is being produced outside the USA. I would hope that the USA will retain its position as the largest denim consumer market (2010) and become the denim production Mecca of the world.  Real Men Real Style and The Butt Therapist have come together for a little denim education and highlight a few denim addicted Americans designers that are making an industry statement by communicating their personal integrity through their business operations by producing denim products that are Made in the USA. “You can support your country one jean at a time.”

From the beginning of Levi Strauss in 1869, the work man’s functional uniform, to casual Friday’s, and denim debuting on catwalks across the globe. Denim has gone beyond the borders and the social benches to create global social unity or as I like to refer as “the blue universal language”. When it comes down to spending your dollar wisely more people are making it a priority to find out where the products they buy are produced and an increased number of consumers are taking the company’s mission into consideration when deciding who to support before they hand their hard-earned dollar over the counter. The level of competition with-in various Jeanswear segments are at war with each other as they have been required to rethink their business and operation strategies to become most effective and streamline their manufacturing and distribution processes. The top three challenges companies are trying to prioritize are:

  • Achieving Consumer Price Stability
  • Maintaining the Brand’s Heritage
  • Increasing Market Growth

Today a single product can visit as many as 8 countries before achieving product completion and being sale ready. To help you figure out where your dollar is going and decide where it will be going for future purchases we’ve broken it down to US denim mills, denim manufacturers, independent denim designers, and even a few retail stores that focus on selling only Made in USA products. It all starts with a piece of cotton and 25,000 farmer-owners that are committed to continually improving the denim manufacturing process.

American Cotton Growers (ACG) has a total capacity of 38 million  yards of denim produced annually which is approximately 26 million pair of jeans; making them a major supplier of denim fabric to the jeans market for 35 years. Plains Cotton Cooperative Association is a farmer–owned,cotton marketing, warehousing, denim manufacturing and jean production cooperative headquartered in Lubbock, Texas. All from Littlefield, TX SafeDenim is “Sustainable, American and Friendly to the Environment”. Owned and operated by The American Cotton Growers—or ACG—and its farmer-owners are focused on developing high quality denim fabrics for our customers with minimal impact on the environment. American cotton literally created from field to fabric. For them it’s a multi-generational commitment to ensure our children and grandchildren can farm the land. We’re protecting our ecosystems for these future generations by remaining good stewards of the land, air and water. We value doing the right thing, in the right place, in the right way, at the right time, and it requires the use of new technologies.” -SafeDenim/ACG

Denim North America is the most modern textile plant in North America and committed to their manufacturing process to be 100%.

 Made in the USA. They are developing and distributing innovative fabric to premium denim companies for global distribution. The newest innovation is the release of EverFlex (6/1/2011); a denim fabric that may be found as the next pair of jeans you buy. What this means is that any jean that has the patented EverFlex label is Made in the USA; even if the denim company chooses to constructs it’s denim outside the USA you can find comfort knowing that the fibers and production of the fabric are 100% USA Made. The EverFlex fabric is projected to hit the premium denim market that may include brands such as: True Religion, Lucky, 7 for all Mankind, Hudson and possibly Gap. So, EverFlex… is a NEW patented stretch denim fabric that retains its shape better than any other cotton based denim blend on the market to date. This means no more bagging out, stretching out, break in period or droopy butts.

White Oak Denim Mill (Greensboro, NC.) has been manufacturing denim since 1905 making jeans for a plethora of denim brands that put quality first. Cone Denim offers a denim companies to create collections that are 100% USA Made. Denim Brands like Loomstate, True Religion, Agave, and Paul Smith’s Red Ear are just a few examples.

“I walked in-between a web of 350 strands of cotton dancing in the air across a 100 year old wood floor that united each organized chaotic piece of thread into a rope the width of a silver dollar that was slapped around a ball warping machine. It looked like a giant friendship bracelet being made. Tchaikovsky would have been inspired for a melody and the orchestra would follow the rhythm of the 30 original shuttle looms that weave in unison and send an unduplicitable vibration through your bones; I could have stood there for an eternity.  Possibly one of my most beautiful experiences confirming that I am a Denim Dork!”-The Butt Therapist

There are employees that have worked at White Oak for over 30 years. The stories they have of the process changes that have happened over the years through technology advancements and industry innovation with blends, dye, finishing treatments, and trends have warped through the decades makes for its own story. Making denim as an art itself; a magnificent creative process from a single cotton fiber to your favorite jeans on your toosh. Right-hand twill, Left, Flame woven, blends, slubs, and weaving patterns.  Even with over 100 years of producing some of the best quality denim in the world even they are feeling the pinch with the economic changes that have forced more apparel brands to find manufacturing resources overseas in order to keep the COGS down as consumers are becoming less likely to pay premium prices for denim made in the USA. Every business that produces a product must retain a certain amount of margin to self-adjust and absorb changing production costs: cotton, fuel, shipping, labor, innovation, and quite frankly to keep them in business while the economy stabilizes and sales projections can begin to be more accurate.  “We feel it comes down to education and passion” Lawson Nikol is a passionate denim head that is interested in a Blue Revolution. Co-founder Nikol of All American Clothing Company  (based in Arcanum, OH) discovered on a retail floor that the company he proudly worked for by distributing USA Made Denim had been outsourced. This marked the beginning of him launching his own company to attempt to keep some denim Made in the USA to “support the heritage of jeans, American families and the American Dream.”- AAC. All American Clothing Company is the only listed denim manufacturer listed as Made in the USA Certified. Each jean is given a “Certificate of Authenticity” that allows you to trace the exact location your jeans were produced.  You can buy All American Clothing collections online and in selected retail posts from California to New York City. The Nickol family prides itself on producing products patrons can be proud to wear.  The family and the employees believe “The USA label will always stay on our jeans because you and we understand the importance of USA Made. When you buy a pair of All American Jeans our label also means; Thank you from us, our employees and the people in our country who still have good jobs due to folks like you. Thank you from all of us.” -Nikol

Handcrafted Denim from an artist to a collector; the process is worth the penny…

Roy Slaper is a single man handcrafting each pair of jeans Roy Denim available to buy only at Self Edge for around $275.00. Beginning in his apartment teaching himself how to sew; he now has one of the most impressive sewing machine collections and jeans in the USA! Roy feels that jean making is a lost art.  It is not often enough that we think about our clothing as someone else’s work and trying to measure how much “work” went into the design and construction of our favorite shirt let alone our favorite pair of jeans. Roy experimented with many garments but made a business by designing and creating custom jeans. He learned as he went, taught himself a craft and refined it to just one thing; Denim, available in 2 styles, made perfectly by hand in Oakland, CA. He uses only the highest grade denim fabric that is he believes in and has worked with Cone Denim on several occasions to produce his ideal denim fabric.

 I wrote a 31 page article about Denim; Made in the USA however, overwhelming you with information is not my goal. Consider this PARTI of the Denim Saga.

All my denim love,

The Butt Therapist

———————————–Don’t forget to check out Antonio with Real Men Real Style