Rugged Workwear - Heritage Quality Goods
As mentioned in my previous blog post, I am designing and co-branding several products this year. An important theme I’m exploring is makers I know via the Southeast Denim Hangs group I started back in late 2018 and early 2019 and especially workwear and heritage style crafters in the South. One of the reasons I’m exploring Southern crafters is because the selvedge denim scene in the USA has very deep historical roots in the south at Cone Mills Denim which was founded in 1895.
I grew up in the Midwest, and moved to the South (Georgia) about 5 years ago. I was already into raw denim, boots, leather, and heritage style finely crafted goods well before moving to Georgia. So when I got down to Georgia I was really surprised to see there is not a lot of crafting down here compared to the East and West coast as it relates to heritage style finely crafted goods. Around Atlanta there are (as far as I’m aware) no real raw denim shops to speak of. There are some cool vintage themed shops, but nothing much in the way of hand crafted boots or raw denim. I did meet a lot of cool leather crafters though and have made some fast friends with them! Shout out to Tannery South, District Leather Supply, Axe and Awl, S.E. Sun Leatherworks among some other leather crafters I am friends with and that are close to me. And to be fair there are some raw denim brands down in the South East (Raleigh Denim, Billiam Jeans, Imogene and Willie, LC King Mfg (maybe not super far in the SE, but close enough in Nashville and Bristol respectively)), but nothing close to where I lived in northern Georgia. So for a long while, literally years, I’ve been thinking about designing goods leveraging some Southern brands, where the denim scene started with Cone Mills Denim.
The first newly designed products I have released in 2022 are with Skinner American Goods, a one man denim brand in Tallahassee, Florida. I met Daniel Skinner at a denim hang in 2019 and we have a very similar opinion and mindset on design work, so he is just super easy for me to work with and designing products with his crafting behind the design has been an absolute joy. There will be several other products and brands I partner with in 2022, but to start I am working with Daniel Skinner at Skinner American Goods. I designed Casual Denim Pants and Work Pants to kick things off. These two products will have several fabrics and options. But two of the core fabrics will be Vidalia Mills fabrics. A 14 oz indigo warp natural weft redline selvedge ID fabric and a 13 oz black warp black weft redline selvedge ID. These fabrics are woven on the old looms that were at Cone Mills Denim in North Carolina and that Vidalia Mills in Louisiana bought to revive the selvedge denim sourcing in the USA after Cone Mills would no longer be a source for selvedge denim when they closed in 2018. Both fabrics use cotton that is sourced from USA. After those fabrics, the Casual Denim Pants and the Work Pants will leverage all materials sourced from USA (buttons, rivets, thread, leather patches). All USA sourced cotton, fabric, materials, and crafting for 4 of the core options in the lineup.
As you can see, USA sourcing is important in my designs. I definitely will have non-core small batch runs of other things like Japanese and Italian fabrics. But the core lineup is focused mainly on USA sourcing, and definitely USA crafting. I also want to make a point and be crystal clear, I value high quality above all else in my design work. I appreciate high quality products from all over the world and other countries like Japan, UK, Germany, et cetera. I having nothing against those products whatsoever when they are created with precision and high quality. But I am starting with a strong South USA focus mainly because I was very surprised when I moved to my current area how nonexistent raw denim and heritage boot crafting is in this area (Northern Georgia). We will be doing some creative things soon including sourcing non-selvedge (but very high quality!) fabrics from places like Mount Vernon Mills fabrics located right here in Georgia.
So stay tuned!