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スクリーンショット 2023-07-14 22.12.26

The history of "Cone denim" up until its bankruptcy

JULY – 2023 15 MINS READ
If you like “Jeans”, you have probably heard of the denim fabric made by the Cone company. The Cone Mills Corporation was an American textile manufacturing company. It produced cotton fabrics such as corduroy, flannel and denim. Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003; it was bought out in 2004 and its last White Oak mill closed.
Moses H Cone & Caesar Cone Brothers
By the year 1890, the South was rapidly recovering from the impact of the War Between the States. The textile industry had begun to move southward in order to take advantage of proximity to the vast cotton fields, which seemed to stretch endlessly below the Mason and Dixon line. It was a land of opportunity for those who were willing to invest in its future.
Moses H. and Ceasar Cone, natives of Tennessee, traveled throughout the Southland just prior to this time as representatives of their father’s wholesale grocery business, H. Cone & Sons, located in Baltimore. These two young men saw at first hand many of the problems facing the textile industry, which was still in its infancy, and recognized its great possibilities for growth.
In 1887, brothers Moses H. and Caesar Cone embarked on investments in textile mills in North Carolina, marking the beginning of their significant contributions to the industry. In 1891, they established the Cone Export & Commission Company in New Jersey, facilitating the brokerage of Southern textile products in the Northern regions. Within a few years, this brokerage was responsible for trading products from nearly 90 percent of Southern textile mill owners.
Recognizing the need for further infrastructure, two years later, the Cone brothers founded the Southern Finishing & Warehouse Company in Greensboro, North Carolina, to enhance their operations.NC city had the advantage of proximity to the cotton fields, gins and warehouses and rail lines radiating in seven directions.
Being thus brought in close touch with textile manufacturers and seeing the potentialities of cot- ton spinning in the South, the Cones decided to begin the manufacture of denims. After making a careful survey, they decided to locate their new plant just outside of Greensboro and acquired sev- eral hundred acres of land for this purpose along- side the main line of the Southern Railway. Here was erected in 1896 the Proximity Cotton Mill, from whose looms the first yard of Cone denim was woven in December of that year. The mill was named Proximity because of its close proximity to the cotton fields. Mr. Ceasar Cone became the direefing head of the plant, which started with 250 looms. This original building is still in use, but it is dwarfed beside the additions which have grown up around it, making possible the operation of 61,632 spindles and 2,085 looms.
Cone denim was soon recognized as a work clothes fabric which was durable and dependable. The demand for it increased, resulting in plans to build another denim mill. A site was chosen about one mile north of the Proximity Mill and the surveyors picked an old white oak tree as the starting point. It was from this old tree that the new plant got its name “White Oak Cotton Mills”.
The Proximity displayed remarkable speed in establishing new factories, reaching an impressive total of seven facilities (including the renowned White Oak) by the time it secured the significant “Golden Handshake” agreement with Levi’s in 1915. This collaboration enabled The The Proximity mills to produce vast quantities of fabric to support the efforts of World War One. Recognizing the importance of diversification, Proximity swiftly adapted to the changing post-war economy, which proved crucial in safeguarding the company from the severe impact of the Great Depression that occurred just over a decade later. As a result, Proximity found itself in an advantageous position as one of the leading fabric producers for the military during World War Two.
Although originally equipped with only 272 looms and complementary machinery, the new denim mill was actually designed for 2000 looms. In 1907, the number of looms was increased to 1500, and by 1913, there were 2000 looms in operation. Another 1000 looms were added in 1922 and 152 in 1937, making White Oak Cotton Mills, with its 3152 looms, the largest denim mill in the world.
In 1948, company management decided a name change was in order and Proximity would henceforth be known as the Cone Mills Corporation, after the company’s founders.
During 1948, the two Cone denim mills paid out in wages more than $11,000,000 to employees who made it possible to produce approximately 125,000,000 yards of Cone denim. This was enough denim to make over 25,000,000 pairs of overalls or if the strips were placed end to end, they would reach around the earth three times.
1887年、コーン兄弟は、ノースカロライナ州の繊維工場への投資に乗り出しこれが繊維産業への彼らの大きな貢献の始まりとなりました。1891年、彼らはニュージャージー州にコーン・エクスポート&コミッション・カンパニーを設立し北部地域での南部繊維製品の仲介を促進しました。数年のうちにこのコーン社は南部の紡績工場所有者のほぼ90%の製品の取引を担当するようになりました。 さらなるインフラの必要性を認識したコーン兄弟は、その2年後に事業を強化するためにノースカロライナ州グリーンズボロにサザン・フィニッシング・アンド・ウェアハウス・カンパニーを設立しました。
プロキシミティ社のデニムはすぐに丈夫で信頼できる作業服地として認知されました。デニムの需要はさらに高まり、別のデニム工場を建設する計画が持ち上がります。近接工場から北に1マイルほど離れた場所が選ばれ、測量士たちはホワイトオークをスタート地点として選んだ。この古木から、新工場は “White Oak Cotton Mills “と名付けられました。
In 1898 the Cone and Emanuel and Herman Sternberger brothers partnered to open Revolution Mill – the South’s first flannel mill. By 1930 Revolution had grown to be the world’s largest flannel mill. By the 1980’s flannel’s popularity had waned dramatically and in 1982 Revolution Mill closed. Its first life had ended.
In 2012 the Self-Help Ventures Fund of Durham took ownership of Revolution Mill. Its second life was started.With a vision to restore and revitalize this historic campus as a place of creative work and creative living, our adaptive repurposing project began. Today the first phase of the project is occupied by more than 100 diverse tenants. The second phase adds open creative workspaces, co-working labs, artist studios, regional art galleries, artisanal studios, 142 creative loft apartments, three additional vibrant restaurants, and a 100,000 barrel/year national brewery with a full brew tavern. This second phase advances this 750,000-square-foot, 50-acre adaptive renovation to incorporate the adjacent accessory buildings and industrial campus. This effort will restore North Buffalo Creek and complete the greenway connection to downtown Greensboro. New outdoor performance and recreational venues ensure a complete creative live/work/play destination. The combination of Greensboro’s public and Self-Help’s private investments have returned Revolution Mill to its initial place as the hub of north Greensboro life.
By 1938, Revolution Cotton Mills claimed to be the largest exclusive flannel mill in the world, producing 50 million yards of fabric each year. The mill village offered schools, churches, and YMCAs for workers.
2012年、Self-Help Ventures Fund of Durhamがレボリューション・ミルの所有権を取得しました。この歴史的なキャンパスを、創造的な仕事と創造的な生活の場として修復し活性化させるというビジョンのもと再利用プロジェクトが始まりました。現在プロジェクトの第一段階には100を超える多様なテナントが入居しています。第2期では、オープンなクリエイティブ・ワークスペース、コワーキング・ラボ、アーティスト・スタジオ、地域アートギャラリー、職人工房、142戸のクリエイティブ・ロフト・アパートメント、さらに3軒の活気あるレストラン、フル・ブリュー・タバーを備えた年産10万バレルの全米ビール醸造所が加わる予定です。この第2段階は、75万平方フィート、50エーカーの敷地を、隣接する付属建物と産業キャンパスを取り込むために改修するものです。レボリューション・ミルはグリーンズボロ北部の生活の中心地として当初の地位を取り戻しました。
Proximity Print Works
The Proximity Print Works, also referred to as the Cone Finishing Plant, is a significant historical textile mill complex situated in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. Comprising nine contributing buildings, two contributing structures, and one contributing object, this complex holds architectural and historical value. The collection of industrial buildings, constructed in several phases starting in 1913, is characterized by its large brick construction and roughly rectangular layout. Notably, it served as the inaugural textile printery in the southern United States. The mill operated until 1977 and has since been recognized with a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
Unionization efforts and unrest
Following the establishment of Proximity Mill in Greensboro, the National Union of Textile Workers made attempts to organize workers in the Piedmont region. In response, Cone Mills took a covert approach by instructing numerous employees to join the union. However, Caesar Cone, one of the key figures behind the company, made a firm stance, expressing that he would rather see the Proximity facility destroyed than negotiate with a union. In 1900, the union initiated a strike, prompting Cone Mills to temporarily shut down the mill and the surrounding company stores. They also hired watchmen to patrol the nearby villages. When union members refused to disband, Cone Mills took the drastic measure of evicting them and their families from the villages. This forceful action quickly resulted in the disintegration of the local union, as unionists either lost their jobs and relocated elsewhere or opted to resign from the organization, subsequently signing yellow-dog contracts with the company.

The strike in 1900 had a detrimental impact on Cone Mills’ public perception. In an effort to restore the company’s reputation and safeguard its growing profitability, the corporate leaders embarked on a mission to reform their relationship with the workforce. They aimed to portray themselves as compassionate managers, seeking to foster greater loyalty among the employees. To achieve this, members of the Cone family personally engaged with the workers, taking the time to walk through the villages and address the employees by name. They distributed Christmas gifts to children and provided individual assistance to troubled workers, offering financial support or wage increases. The company organized grand events and celebrations for its workforce, including an annual Fourth of July picnic, where the Cones often delivered speeches. Recognizing the importance of employee well-being, Cone Mills established various welfare programs, schools, and clinics. They also sponsored orchestras and sports teams, aiming to introduce elements of “civilization” to their predominantly rural workforce. Starting from 1910, the focus shifted towards improving living conditions in the mill villages. Cone Mills paved streets, constructed new homes equipped with running water and electricity, and provided space for gardening. During World War I, when the labor market faced scarcity, Cone Mills subsidized essential food items in its stores and made efforts to ensure the availability of consumer products for its workers despite shortages. Overall, Cone Mills demonstrated a concerted effort to create a more favorable work environment and improve the quality of life for its employees. These initiatives were part of the company’s broader strategy to enhance worker loyalty and strengthen its standing within the community.

Between 1900 and 1925, Cone Mills’ paternalistic approach generally managed to maintain positive labor relations. While there were individual instances of worker discontent and departures, many employees chose to remain with Cone Mills because they recognized that conditions in other textile plants in the region were even worse.However, in the 1920s, there was a decline in the demand for textile products, and the prices of cotton and tobacco experienced a sharp drop. This led many farmers to seek employment in the mills. Confronted with an excess of labor and the need to reduce costs, company leaders implemented measures such as pay cuts, staff layoffs, and increased work responsibilities for the remaining workers. This strategy, referred to as the “stretch-out” by workers, left many feeling betrayed by Cone Mills. Consequently, the company’s paternalistic system became increasingly strained and fraught with conflict.
グリーンズボロにプロキシミティ工場が設立された後、全国織物労組はピエンドモント地域の労働者の組織化を試みました。多数の従業員に組合に加入するよう指示することで秘密裏に対処した。しかし会社の中心人物の一人であるシーザー・コーンは断固とした態度を示し組合と交渉するくらいなら近接施設の破壊を望むと表明します。1900年、組合はストライキを開始され、コーン・ミルズは工場と周辺の直営店を一時的に閉鎖しました。また近隣の村をパトロールする監視員を雇うほどだった。組合員が解散を拒否すると、コーン・ミルズは組合員とその家族を村から立ち退かせるという思い切った手段に出ました。組合員たちは職を失って別の場所に移るか、組織から脱退して会社と契約を結ぶことになった。この1900年のストライキはコーン工場の社会的評価に悪影響を与えました。会社の評判を回復させ成長し続ける収益性を守るために、企業幹部は労働者との関係を改革する使命に着手しました。従業員の忠誠心を高め思いやりのある経営者であることを示すことを目指します。これを達成するために、コーン・ファミリーのメンバーは個人的に従業員と関わり、時間を割いて村を歩き、従業員に名前を呼びかけた。子供たちにクリスマス・プレゼントを配り、問題を抱えた労働者には経済的支援や賃上げなどの個別支援を行いました。毎年恒例の7月4日のピクニックでは、コーンズ夫妻がしばしばスピーチを行うなど、会社は従業員のために盛大なイベントや祝賀会を企画し従業員の福利厚生の重要性を認識し、コーン・ミルズは様々な福祉プログラム、学校、診療所を設立した。また、オーケストラやスポーツチームのスポンサーも務め、農村部で働く従業員に「仲間意識」の要素を取り入れることを目指しました。1910年以降、工場労働者の生活環境の改善に重点が置かれるようになります。コーン工場は道路を舗装し水道と電気を備えた新しい住宅を建設しガーデニングのためのスペースを提供しました。第一次世界大戦中労働市場が不足に直面すると、コーン・ミルズは店舗で必要な食料品に補助金を出し、不足にもかかわらず労働者が消費財を入手できるよう努力しました。全体としてコーン・ミルズは、より働きやすい職場環境を作り、従業員の生活の質を向上させるために、協調的な努力を示していた。これらの取り組みは、労働者の忠誠心を高め、地域社会における地位を強化するための、同社の広範な戦略の一環でした。 1900年から1925年にかけて、コーン工場の経営者のアプローチは、概して良好な労使関係を維持することに成功します。しかし、1920年代に入ると繊維製品の需要が減少し綿花とタバコの価格が急落しました。そのため多くの農民が工場での雇用を求めるようになります。労働力の過剰とコスト削減の必要性に直面した企業幹部は、減給、従業員のレイオフ、残された労働者の労働責任の増大などの対策を実施せざるを得なくなります。この戦略は労働者から「ストレッチ・アウト」と呼ばれ、多くの労働者がコーン・ミルズに裏切られたと感じました。その結果、再び会社のパターナリスティックなシステムはますます緊張を増し、対立をはらむようになりました。
1920s Cone Mills basketball team ©wikipedia common
Workers at the White Oak mills staged several small strikes in response to the increased demands placed upon them until an agreement was reached through arbitration to alleviate some of their concerns.During this period, Cone Mills also introduced changes to the functioning of its mills. This included the adoption of scientific management practices and the implementation of new machinery. Following the passing of Caesar Cone, his brother Bernard assumed leadership of the company and began hiring professional supervisors with college training, marking a shift away from the longstanding practice of promoting from within. While the Cones continued certain paternalistic practices such as personally engaging with workers and hosting events, the relationship between management and the workforce was never fully restored. The conflicts and changes during this period significantly impacted the dynamics within Cone Mills and set the stage for a different era in the company’s history.
Persistent discontent among Cone Mills’ workforce culminated in May 1930 when approximately one-third of the employees attended a rally organized by the United Textile Workers of America (UTW) on the outskirts of Greensboro. Building on the momentum, a subsequent rally in June resulted in the establishment of a local union affiliate under the UTW. In response, Cone Mills took the drastic step of evicting union members from their homes. The UTW then shifted its strategy, moving from criticizing stretch-outs to directly challenging the accumulated wealth and management style of the Cones. Throughout the summer, evictions continued, and despite the efforts of the union, the drive for unionization eventually faltered due to a combination of pressure exerted by the Cones and the harsh economic conditions of the Great Depression, which left mill workers with limited alternatives. Although the resolution favored the company, the events permanently shook the loyalty of many workers towards Cone Mills. Challenges to the Cones’ management persisted throughout the 1930s and 1940s, aided by the implementation of new labor protections introduced by the New Deal.
Class in Revolution Mill, 1940 (Courtesy of Kay Swofford)
Following World War II, Cone Mills shifted its approach away from paternalism. The company divested itself of the mill villages, terminated its welfare programs, and adopted a more detached style of worker management. In April 1951, over half of Cone Mills’ unionized workers went on strike, resulting in the complete shutdown of the Dwight Manufacturing mill in Alabama. These labor disputes continued to shape the relationship between Cone Mills and its workers, as tensions and conflicts persisted into the mid-20th century.



Decline and acquisition.
During the mid-1950s, the demand for denim began to decline, as it was no longer solely associated with manual labor but also worn as a fashion statement by teenagers. This shift prompted Cone Mills to explore growth opportunities in other areas of its business. The company focused on enhancing its dyeing, printing, and finishing operations, particularly at its flagship Proximity Cotton Mills. This facility transitioned from denim production, which experienced reduced demand, to manufacturing poplins, twills, and corduroy. In 1957, Cone Mills expanded its presence by acquiring three converting companies and also ventured further into the field of synthetics by establishing Spinco fabrics for blended and synthetic goods. However, the company faced increasing competition from products manufactured in countries with lower labor costs. In response, Cone Mills intensified its marketing efforts and further streamlined its manufacturing operations. It established a dedicated finishing division to coordinate activities in that field and introduced a Research and Development Department to foster innovation in textile production. Despite these measures, Cone Mills experienced somewhat uneven financial results throughout the 1950s, reflecting the challenges posed by shifting market dynamics and international competition.
Proximity Denim Mills and Village (Courtesy of Don Morrison)
During the 1960s, Cone Mills embarked on further diversification of its operations. In the early years of the decade, the company expanded into the decorative fabrics sector by acquiring a controlling interest in John Wolf Textiles, a company specializing in fabrics for home furnishings. Additionally, Cone ventured outside the textile industry by establishing Olympic Products, a subsidiary focused on producing polyurethane foam cushions and other foam products for the furniture industry. The company also broadened its geographical reach in 1961 by acquiring an 11 percent stake in Fabrica Argentina de Alpargatas, a manufacturer of fabric, shoes, and consumer goods in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Due to cotton pricing regulations imposed by the federal government, Cone Mills faced challenges in maintaining competitive pricing for all-cotton fabrics against foreign producers. To address this issue, the company began increasing its utilization of synthetic fibers in its woven fabrics. This shift led to the introduction of stretch fabrics in 1962 and permanent press fabrics in 1964. In the following year, Cone Mills underwent a significant strategic shift, transitioning from solely all-cotton products to a range of fabrics blended with synthetic fibers. These blended fabrics were in high demand for the emerging trend of casual and leisurewear, commanding higher prices compared to pure cotton fabrics. Cone Mills eventually offered more than 170 different cotton and synthetic blends.
Towards the end of the decade, Cone Mills witnessed a resurgence in demand for its initial product, denim. As jeans gained popularity and became a staple among the baby boomer generation, denim evolved from functional workwear to a fashion item. In 1969, Cone Mills experienced the dominance of denim in the youth fashion market when heavy rainfall flooded its denim warehouse at the White Oak plant in Greensboro. Faced with the task of salvaging and restoring the damaged fabric, the company decided, upon the suggestion of one of its marketing employees, to run the fabric through a bleach solution while restoring it, resulting in random removal of the indigo dye. This process created a new product known as “pinto wash” denim, which sparked a fashion trend. This incident demonstrated the popularity of denim. Consequently, Cone Mills converted its Proximity Cotton Mills back to their original function of manufacturing denim in 1970 to meet the growing demand. The company also expanded its production of corduroy, which had become a fashionable fabric choice.
Cone continued to purchase companies that fit into its existing operations, adding a cushion manufacturer, the Prelude Company, in 1970. By the following year, however, it had become clear that some divisions of the company were not profitable, and Cone shut down two weak operations, a blanket plant in Houston, and the John Wolf Apparel Fabrics Division. In 1972, Cone expanded its program to sell off unused real estate that the company had acquired over the years, buying the Cornwallis Development Company, a real estate developer, which became a separate Cone division. This company would eventually profitably develop over 1,000 acres of land in the Greensboro area. Throughout the 1970s, Cone struggled against an industry-wide tide of cheap imported fabrics, which worked to keep profits down. The company relied heavily on its two main products, denim and corduroy, which enjoyed continuing fashion popularity. In 1974, Cone opened a new denim factory at its Cliffside plant. In 1975, the company embarked upon a nine-year program of plant modernization that was designed to make operations as efficient as possible, so that costs could be kept low.
1950年代半ば、労働着としてのデニムの需要は減少し始めました。デニムはもはや肉体労働のためだけのものではなく、ティーンエイジャーのファッションとしても着用され始めるようになります。この変化に伴いコーンミルズは他の事業分野での成長機会を模索するようになり始めます。同社は、特に旗艦工場であるプロキシミティ・コットン・ミルズでの染色、プリント、仕上げ加工の強化に注力しました。この工場は、需要が減少したデニムの生産から、ポプリン、ツイル、コーデュロイの生産に移行していきました。1957年、コーン社はコンバーティング会社3社を買収してそのプレゼンスを拡大し、混紡・合成繊維製品用の”Spinco fabrics”を設立して合成繊維の分野にも進出しました。しかし、同社は人件費の安い国で生産された製品との競争激化に直面します。これに対応するため、コーン・ミルズはマーケティング活動を強化し、製造業務の合理化を進めました。この分野の活動を調整するために専門の仕上げ部門を設立し、繊維生産の革新を促進するために研究開発部門を導入しました。このような施策にもかかわらず、コーンミルズは1950年代を通じて、市場ダイナミクな変化と国際競争によってもたらされた課題を反映し不安定な経営を強いられることになります。 
In the early 1980s, Cone Mills ventured into yet another new market with the acquisition of Chemical Chair House, a company specializing in molded urethane foam for the furniture and transportation industries. After rebranding the acquired company as Conitron, Cone Mills constructed a new urethane plant in Trinity, North Carolina. Expanding its presence in the polyurethane sector, the company further augmented its holdings by acquiring Ragan Hardware, which became part of the Olympic Division. However, in 1983, Cone Mills faced a hostile takeover attempt from Western Pacific Industries, amidst the fervor of corporate stock speculation. In response to this threat, the company orchestrated a leveraged buyout, repurchasing all outstanding stock and returning to private ownership once again.
1984 Levis with Cone ad
To counter the adverse effects of imported fabrics on its market, Cone Mills joined forces with other American textile manufacturers in a collective effort to promote the increased consumption of domestic products. Under the banner of “Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A.,” they launched a comprehensive public relations campaign aimed at mitigating the impact of lower-priced imported goods. Despite these endeavors, the combination of intensified competition from imports and a decline in the popularity of corduroy led Cone Mills to make significant changes to its operations between 1977 and 1990. During this period, the company faced the difficult decision of closing, converting, or selling ten of its mills. Notably, prominent pillars of Cone Mills, including the Proximity Cotton Mills and Print Works, the Revolution Mill, and the Minneola Mill, permanently ceased their operations. These changes marked a significant shift in the company’s manufacturing footprint as it grappled with the challenges presented by evolving market conditions.
In addition to the aforementioned efforts, Cone Mills implemented measures to streamline its operations, placing a strong emphasis on quality improvement programs and customer service. As part of its strategic initiatives, in 1990, the company made the decision to relocate its Marketing Division to Greensboro. The following year, Cone Mills returned to the stock market, offering shares in the company in June 1992. This move not only strengthened its financial position but also aligned with its ongoing strategy to optimize operations. Starting in late 1991, Cone Mills began to downsize its activities, discontinuing corduroy manufacturing and other non-core areas. These strategic adjustments, coupled with increased sales and favorable cotton prices, contributed to Cone Mills’ return to profitability as it entered the mid-1990s. Given its extensive history and diversified operations, Cone Mills appeared well positioned to thrive in the competitive textiles market in the years ahead. The company’s focus on efficiency, quality, and meeting customer needs boded well for its continued success.
Who Killed The Cone Mills White Oak Plant? ©HEDDELS

In 1994, the American textile industry faced a significant challenge with the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This agreement eliminated textile and apparel tariffs between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. As a result, many clothing brands, including Levi’s, Lee, Wrangler, The Gap, and Lucky Brand, shifted their production outside of the United States. The move away from domestic production made it less advantageous to buy fabric from domestic mills like Cone Mills. Instead, brands opted for fabric produced closer to their manufacturing locations.

Adding to the industry’s challenges, the World Trade Organization called for an end to textile and apparel quotas worldwide by 2005. Previously, countries could set limits on the amount of fabric they wanted to import. The removal of these quotas meant that textile and apparel manufacturers would compete directly with each other without the previous regulations that protected domestic mills like Cone.During this time, Cone Mills Corporation experienced its highest annual revenue of $910 million in 1995. However, the company still incurred a net loss of $3.3 million. By 2003, only a fraction of the clothing consumed in the United States was domestically produced, and much of the domestically produced clothing was made with imported fabric. The global wholesale price of denim had also dropped by 27 percent over the past four years. These factors further contributed to the challenges faced by Cone Mills and the textile industry as a whole.

1980年代初頭、コーン社は、家具および輸送産業向けの成形ウレタンフォームを専門とする”Chemical Chair House”社を買収し、さらに新たな市場に進出。買収した会社のブランド名をコニトロンに変更した以降コーンミルズはノースカロライナ州トリニティに新しいウレタン工場を建設しました。ポリウレタン部門におけるプレゼンスを拡大するため、同社はオリンピック部門の一部となったラガン・ハードウェアを買収し、持ち株をさらに増強しました。しかし、1983年、コーン・ミルズは、企業株投機の熱狂の中、ウェスタン・パシフィック・インダストリーズからの敵対的買収の企てに直面します。この脅威に対し、同社はレバレッジド・バイアウトを画策し発行済み株式をすべて買い戻し、再び個人所有の企業に戻ることになります。輸入生地が市場に与えるコスト競争に対抗するため、コーン・ミルズは他のアメリカの繊維メーカーと手を組み、国産製品の消費拡大を推進する集団的な取り組みを行った。「Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A.」の旗印の下、低価格の輸入品の影響を緩和することを目的とした包括的な広報キャンペーンを開始しました。このような努力にもかかわらず、輸入品との競争激化とコーデュロイの人気低下が重なり、コーン・ミルズは1977年から1990年にかけて事業を大幅に変更せざるを得なかった。
1980年代初頭、コーン社は、家具および輸送産業向けの成形ウレタンフォームを専門とする”Chemical Chair House”社を買収し、さらに新たな市場に進出。買収した会社のブランド名をコニトロンに変更した以降コーンミルズはノースカロライナ州トリニティに新しいウレタン工場を建設しました。ポリウレタン部門におけるプレゼンスを拡大するため、同社はオリンピック部門の一部となったラガン・ハードウェアを買収し、持ち株をさらに増強しました。しかし、1983年、コーン・ミルズは、企業株投機の熱狂の中、ウェスタン・パシフィック・インダストリーズからの敵対的買収の企てに直面します。この脅威に対し、同社はレバレッジド・バイアウトを画策し発行済み株式をすべて買い戻し、再び個人所有の企業に戻ることになります。輸入生地が市場に与えるコスト競争に対抗するため、コーン・ミルズは他のアメリカの繊維メーカーと手を組み、国産製品の消費拡大を推進する集団的な取り組みを行った。「Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A.」の旗印の下、低価格の輸入品の影響を緩和することを目的とした包括的な広報キャンペーンを開始しました。このような努力にもかかわらず、輸入品との競争激化とコーデュロイの人気低下が重なり、コーン・ミルズは1977年から1990年にかけて大幅な事業変更を余儀なくされた。この間、同社は10工場の閉鎖、転換、売却という難しい決断に迫られます。特に”Proximity Cotton Mills and Print Works”、”Revolution Mill”、”Minneola Mill”を含むCone Millsの創業初期からの柱が廃業することになった。時代の進化する市場についていかなければならないとはいえ同社の課題を浮き彫りにしていくことになる。
前述の努力に加え、コーン・ミルズ社は、品質改善プログラムと顧客サービスに重点を置き、業務の合理化策を実施し始めます。戦略的イニシアチブの一環として、1990年、同社はマーケティング部門をグリーンズボロに移転することを決定。翌年、コーンミルズは株式市場に復帰、1992年6月に同社の株式を公開します。この動きは財務体質を強化しただけでなく事業を最適化するという継続的な戦略にも合致していました。1991年後半から、コーン・ミルズは事業の縮小を開始しコーデュロイの製造やその他の非中核分野を中止していきました。このような戦略的な調整と、売上の増加、良好な綿花価格により、1990年代半ばに入り、コーン・ミルズは黒字化を達成。豊富な歴史と多角的な事業展開により、Cone Millsは今後数年間は、競争の激しい繊維市場で成功するのに有利な立場にあると思われた。効率性、品質、顧客ニーズへの対応に重点を置く同社の姿勢は、継続的な成功につながるはずであった。
CHAPTER 11 / Bankruotcy

Due to challenges posed by foreign competition, declining denim consumption, and increased material costs, the Cone Mills Corporation experienced significant setbacks. These circumstances led the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2003. As a result, two out of its three facilities in Rutherford County, North Carolina, were forced to close their doors, resulting in the unfortunate loss of 625 jobs.

In 2004, Cone Mills underwent a transformation when it was acquired by WL Ross & Co. Subsequently, the company merged with Burlington Industries, forming the International Textile Group. The White Oak Mill, an iconic facility within Cone Mills, ceased its operations in 2017.

In January 2019, the International Textile Group underwent further changes, becoming Elevate Textiles under the ownership of Platinum Equity. Elevate Textiles continued to serve as the parent corporation of Cone Denim, maintaining the legacy of Cone Mills within its operations.

海外との競争、デニムの消費減退、原材料費の高騰といった課題により、コーン・ミルズ・コーポレーションは大きな後退を余儀なくされた。こうした状況から、同社は2003年に連邦破産法第11条の適用を申請した。その結果、ノースカロライナ州ラザフォード郡にある3つの施設のうち2つが閉鎖を余儀なくされ、625人の雇用が失われるという不幸な結果となった。 2004年、コーン・ミルズはWLロス社に買収され、変貌を遂げた。その後、同社はバーリントン・インダストリーズと合併し、インターナショナル・テキスタイル・グループを形成した。コーンミルズの象徴的施設であったホワイトオーク工場は、2017年に操業を停止した。 2019年1月、インターナショナル・テキスタイル・グループはさらなる変革を遂げ、プラチナ・エクイティの所有の下、エレベート・テキスタイルズとなった。エレベート・テキスタイルズはコーン・デニムの親会社として、コーン・ミルズのレガシーを維持しながら事業を継続した。
The more than 500 bales of cotton which are used daily by the Proximity and White Oak Plants are bought by a well trained and experienced staff of cotton classers. Great care is exercised in selecting the right type of cotton in order to maintain the high quality of Cone denim. Each sample is inspected for color, grade end length of staple under the ideal conditions of a large classing room built to meet government specifications.
Upon arriving by roll or by truck at one of the many warehouses used to store Proximity and White Oak cotton, each bale is weighed, tagged and sampled. The Cotton Classers then go through the lot of samples and check each sample for color and description and pull the cotton to see if it is the same staple and character as specified.
Boles are hauled from the worehouses to the Opening Room, where they are laid out in neat rows in front of the bale breakers. The bands and bagging are stripped off of each bale and thin layers of cotton from several different bales are placed in the hopper of each bale breaker. These machines break up the highly compressed cotton into small bunches and mix the cotton from the several different bales to insure uniformity. It is then dropped on a moving conveyor belt from which it is carried to a Buckley Beater.
The Buckley Beater and Vertical Openers are so arranged that the cotton moves directly from one to the other. In both machines, the bunches of matted cotton fibers are tossed against a metal screen or grid by a beater revolving at great speed. As a result, the centrifugal force throws a considerable portion of the dust, leaf particles and other foreign matter through the screen to collect at the bottom of the machine.
From the conveyor pipe, the cotton falls upon an automatic feed apron which keeps the correct amount of cotton moving into a battery of One-Process Pickers. As the cotton moves through these machines, it is further cleaned of dirt and impurities by fast-revolving blades. The picker also pulls the cotton fibers apart and beats them into a fluffy mass, which is rolled under pressure on a steel rod into cylinder-like package as nearly uniform as possible, 40 inches This is called a “lap” and weighs approximately 45 pounds.
From the conveyor pipe, the cotton falls upon an automatic feed apron which keeps the correct amount of cotton moving into a battery of One-Process Pickers. As the cotton moves through these machines, it is further cleaned of dirt and impurities by fast-revolving blades. The picker also pulls the cotton fibers apart and beats them into a fluffy mass, which is rolled under pressure on a steel rod into cylinder-like package as nearly uniform as possible, 40 inches This is called a “lap” and weighs approximately 45 pounds.
These cans, filled with card sliver, are then arranged behind the drawing frames. Six strands of sliver are fed into each of the feeders of the drawing frame and are condensed into one strand of drawing sliver. The series of four rollers in the drawing frame are so geared that the sliver moves through them at progressively higher speeds, drawing the fibers out so that they become more nearly parallel with each other. Through this pro- cess, irregularities in the sliver are also eliminated by taking a number of slivers which may vary in weight per yard and drawing them out into a single sliver of uniform weight. As the sliver emerges from the frame, it is also coiled into cons for convenience.
The cans of drawing sliver are then placed behind the roving or slubber frames on the basis of one can for each bobbin or spindle on the frame. From these cans, the strands of sliver are lifted over a supporting rod, which helps move the sliver toward a series of rollers. The speed of these rollers varies in such a way as to draw out or “draft” the sliver to the desired size. It is then passed through a small wicket-like frame, called a “flyer” to the bobbin. The bobbin whirls round inside the flyer and moves up and down. As the stock comes from the rollers a slight amount of twist is inserted and the fibers in roving form are wound on the bobbin in even successive layers until it is filled.
Bobbins of roving from the slubbers are placed on the top side of the spinning frame. This part of the frame is called the Creel and there is a bobbin of roving for each of the spindles on the frame. The roving passes from the bobbin through rolls which draw it into a finer strand. It is then down threaded to the bobbin through a small D-shaped bit of flat wire called a “traveler”, which rides on a ring surrounding the bobbin. Both the bobbin and the traveler revolve at a rapid rate, twisting the yarn and causing it to be wound in layers on the bobbin. In the case of filling yarn, which runs crosswise a piece of goods, it is now ready for the weave room. However, warp yarn, the yarn running lengthwise, must be further processed.
The next step then is to put that yarn on a larger pockage which will warp yarn from several bobbins.This is done by an automatic spooler which winds the yarn into large, circular packages, called “cheeses”. Mounted on top of the machine is a mechanism which travels round it, making one complete circuit for each set of bobbins being run off. The traveling unit mechanically ties the end of the yarn from each of the full bobbins which have been placed in the bobbin holders to the end of each cheese to be filled. When a cheese reaches its full size of 15,000 yards it automatically snaps up and out of contact, ready to be removed.
The cheeses are next moved to a high speed automatic ball warper and placed on an enormous rack called a “creel”. The end of the yarn from each of the approximately 500 cheeses on the creel is then threaded through guides before being attached to the ball warp. At an almost unbelievable speed, the yarn is wound on the warp in rope-like form until it reaches its capacity of 7,000 yards. It is now ready to be moved to the Dye House.
Twenty-four ball warps, each containing about 500 strands of warp yarn 7,000 yards in length, are placed on the racks behind the dyeing machine. The yarn from all twenty-four warps moves simultaneously through a series of vats and wash boxes. The first two wash boxes prepare the yarn so that it will take the dye, the next three vats contain indigo dye and the following two wash boxes neutralize harmful acids and wash the yarn. A complicated system of overhead rollers provides time for oxidation between dippings in the dye vats. From the last wash box, the yarn moves over a battery of steam cans or hot metal drums to the coilers where the dry yarn is stacked in twenty-four separate piles which are called “warps”.
A “warp” of the newlv-dyed blue yarn, which gives Cone denim its deep, rich color, is now moved to a beaming frame. Here the approximately 500 strands of yarn are separated by threading them through a reed and a rake before attaching them to a large spool or section beam. This beam is 29 inches in diameter and about 54 inches long. As the beam revolves, the strands of warp yarn are wound on it in exact position, side by side.
Four, and sometimes five, section beams filled with yarn are moved from the beaming frames to the slasher. The number of section beams placed one behind the other at one end of the slasher is determined by the number of yarn ends required for the denim to be woven. The yarn from the beams is run simultaneously through a carefully prepared bath of hot starch, over huge cylinders which dry it, thence to a loom beam, to which it is attached and upon which it is wound. This starch or sizing re- inforces and strengthens the yarn, making it easier to handle on the looms, and it also provides the yarn with extra protection against the chafing action of the loom. There ore now between 2,000 and 2,500 strands of yarn on the loom beam according to the number necessary for the fabric which is to be woven.
If the design or cloth pattern is to be changed, it is necesary to go through a tedious and delicate operation called “drawing-in”. The loom beam is placed behind a rack which supports an entire section of drop wires, harness and reeds. Each yarn end is then threaded by hand through exactly the right heddle, drop wire and reed. When the yarn has been properly threaded the drop wires, reeds and harness are moved as a unit with the warp beam to the loom.
In case the design to be woven remains the same, the loom beam, filled with warp yarn, is rolled up on one side of a tying-in machine and a harness frame containing the yarn ends from a used-up loom beam is placed on the other side. The yarn ends from both are then properly placed on the machine and the intricate tying-in mechanism ties the yarn ends of one in perfect order to the yarn ends of the other. This makes it possible to pull the yarn from the full beam through the proper heddles, drop wires and reeds before moving the harness and warp beam to the loom.
The warp beam is placed on the back of the loom, so that the yarn can move lengthwise into the fabric of the cloth. It is then necessary to properly place the drop wires, harness and reed before pulling the yarn through them to the cloth roll on the front of the loom. When the loom is started up, the warp yarn first moves through the drop wires, which either by a mechanical or an electrical contact, stop the loom when a strand of yarn breaks. The yarn then passes to what is known as the “harness motion”, located in approximately the center of the loom. This mechanism is mode up of either three or four harness frames, according to the style denim to be woven. A harness frame is rectangular and contains many steel wires with eyelets called “heddles”. Through each of these heddles, one end of warp yarn is threaded, alternately, the first end in one horness, the next in another, and so on. These harness frames are so arranged that when one or more frames drop down, the other one or two frames are up, thus dividing the warp yarn and forming a passage-way through the hundreds of ends. The shuttle, which contains a bobbin of filling yarn brought directly from the spinning frames, moves the width of the loom through the passageway or shed thus formed, leaving behind a strand of yarn. After the shuttle passes through the shed, another shed is formed by the lower harness becoming the upper harness and vice versa. The shuttle operation is then repeated at the rate of about 175 times per minute.
The warp beam is placed on the back of the loom, so that the yarn can move lengthwise into the fabric of the cloth. It is then necessary to properly place the drop wires, harness and reed before pulling the yarn through them to the cloth roll on the front of the loom. When the loom is started up, the warp yarn first moves through the drop wires, which either by a mechanical or an electrical contact, stop the loom when a strand of yarn breaks. The yarn then passes to what is known as the “harness motion”, located in approximately the center of the loom. This mechanism is mode up of either three or four harness frames, according to the style denim to be woven. A harness frame is rectangular and contains many steel wires with eyelets called “heddles”. Through each of these heddles, one end of warp yarn is threaded, alternately, the first end in one horness, the next in another, and so on. These harness frames are so arranged that when one or more frames drop down, the other one or two frames are up, thus dividing the warp yarn and forming a passage-way through the hundreds of ends. The shuttle, which contains a bobbin of filling yarn brought directly from the spinning frames, moves the width of the loom through the passageway or shed thus formed, leaving behind a strand of yarn. After the shuttle passes through the shed, another shed is formed by the lower harness becoming the upper harness and vice versa. The shuttle operation is then repeated at the rate of about 175 times per minute.
After the shuttle has been thrown across the loom, the filling yarn is left some distance from the “fell” of the cloth. In order to push the yarn towards the already woven cloth, the “beating-up” opera- tion is used. Each strand of warp yarn moves through a series of upright wires on a long frame, which is known as a reed. The reed is attached to a heavy part of the loom, called a “lay”. This lay moves backwards and forward in perfect timing with the passage of the shuttle, and, as it moves, it presses each new strand of filling yarn into its place in the cloth which is being woven. As the denim is made, it is wound on the cloth roll until approximately sixty yards have accum- ulated. The cut of cloth is then removed and placed on a conveyor belt which carries it to the finish- ing department.
The rolls of cloth are separated according to styles as they come off the conveyor belt and are placed on trucks in groups of eighteen rolls. When this number of rolls has accumulated, the truck is pushed to the shearing machine. Here the eighteen rolls are stitched together into one continuous piece of cloth ap- proximately 1,000 yards long. It is then run through the shearing machine, which removes loose yarn left on the fabric during the weaving process. As the denim emerges from this machine, it passes through a swinging arm which folds the entire length of about 1,000 yards into a waiting truck.
From the shearing machine, the truck is moved to the inspecting tables. Here the denim passes over several rollers and then across a large, well-lighted board where it is carefully inspected for flows and imperfections. The speed at which the cloth moves across the inspecting table and then to swinging arm, which again folds it into truck, is controlled by the operator.
The truck, filled with loosely folded denim, is now ready to be placed behind the dry cons. Here the denim passes into o carefully prepared finishing solution and then moves between heavy rollers to a battery of long metal drum or dry cans filled with steam. As the cloth passes over, under and between these drums, it is dryed and ironed, ready again to be folded into a waiting truck.
The denim is next moved to the sanforizer. As the cloth passes through this machine, it is given a shrinkage treatment, known as sanforizing, and is again folded on a truck.
The finishing process has now been completed and the denim is ready to be prepared for shipping. From the truck, it is threaded through a folding machine or “hooker” which measures and neatly folds the cloth into cuts of approximately 55 yards in length. A Cone deeptone denim label is then placed on the cut designating the style and number of yards.
Samples of current denim production are constantly run through standard laundry equipment in order to carefully check shrinkage. These wash tests make it possible to control the finish to within the allowed tolerance of 1 % residual shrinkage.
Eighteen cuts of carefully folded denim are stacked in an attractive carton on a bale press. Bands are placed around the carton making of it another neat package of sturdy Cone deeptone denim which, after being properly marked, is ready to be shipped to the garment manufacturer.
Skilled chemists and technicians working in a well equipped laboratory constantly test the construction, dye and finish of Cone deeptone denim in order to maintain high standards of quality.
Who Killed The Cone Mills White Oak Plant? ©HEDDELS
Cone Mills to Close White Oak Plant, Last American Selvedge Denim Mill
International Textile Group announced today that they will be ceasing operations at the Cone Mills White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina on December 31, 2017. The White Oak Plant had been in operation for over 110 years and will be the last selvedge denim mill in the United States.

In a press release from ITG:
“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.”

The mill itself was founded in 1905 and has operated continuously ever since. Demand for shuttle-loomed fabric, woven on their vintage Draper X-3 looms had waned in recent years as customers sought cheaper fabric from overseas. Cone assures that all customer orders will be honored up until the closing.
Reference Video 
How denim fabrics are made
– recommendation –

What is the Difference Between Denim, Chambray & Dungarees?

Do you know the difference between denim, chambray and dungaree? These fabrics, which are very similar, have differences in the way they are made and their history. This section studies those differences.
デニム、シャンブレー、ダンガリーの違いをあなたはご存でしょうか? よく似ているこれらの生地は、その製法や歴史に違いがあリます。このコーナーでは、それらの違いについて研究します。
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