Heritage America, meet Modern America. One year ago, the International Textile Group was purchased by Platinum Equity Partners. If you’re not familiar with what “private equity” firms do, it’s this: They buy companies that are perceived as undervalued, then they go through and ruthlessly force every aspect of that company through a race-to-the-bottom process. The newly-efficient parts of the company are then stripped and sold. It is a process by which the rich become richer and the poor become unemployed, and it represents late-stage capitalism at its bloodthirsty, inhumane worst.
The flagship plant of International Textile Group is the Cone Mills denim production facility in North Carolina. Few people expected that it would survive the private-equity process. Sure enough, ITG announced that it is terminating production and closing the plant after 117 years of operation. Think of that! This plant survived the world wars, the Great Depression, the energy crisis, the Carter Depression, and the 2008 recession. But it couldn’t survive a year of private-equity management.
The employees are sad, but proud to have made the world’s finest denim. From now on, the high-end denim market will be entirely owned by the Japanese, who treasure the concept of “American jeans” and who have created modern machines to faithfully reproduce the irregularities of Cone Mills’ century-old production line. There will still be denim fabric made in America, courtesy of “Denim North America” in Georgia. You will still be able to get USA-made denim jeans from Dearborn and a few other suppliers. But the real high-end fabric, the stuff that makes my Flint&Tinder jeans so perfect, the fabric that served as the basis for the USA-made Lucky 363 Vintage jeans — that’s gone with the wind. So a bunch of billionaire jerkoffs can increase their rate of return by a fraction of a percent.
If you want to try the Cone Mills products before it’s too late, I’ve rounded up some options for you, based on some personal experience.
L.C. King has White Oak Jeans. Your mileage may vary with LC King stuff; I’ve found that the sizing can be hit or miss.
Levi’s has some USA-made jeans left.
Flint And Tinder makes what I think are the best Cone Mills jeans left. You can find a set here but you will have to join Huckberry to buy them.
Lucky Jeans has a very small number of remaining Cone Mills jeans in waist sizes 29 and 30.
If you want to hem your own jeans, and if you have relatively slim legs, check out Brave Star.
If you’re aware of others, please leave them in the comments. Thank you!