As someone who grew up in a textile town in the north of England, you see the past civic pride, the buildings, the community - and the decline. But this is a worldwide wider issue. Of cheaper labour and production in other countries. The consumer has been demanding cheaper products and the High Street has been offering it. To be able to offer a Selvedge for $25 and commoditise the market was never going to be possible to produce in the US or anywhere in the western world. Consumer perception of what a good pair of jeans should cost has changed. Fast Fashion became what it is. Lets have lots cheap than less at quality and craftsmanship, with authenticity and heritage. The denim industry may mourn, but were they buying enough fabric? Perhaps everyone should have a look at why, and perhaps even see what is best for the industry moving forward.
I'm very much on the fringes of this great industry, but surprisingly small industry, where everyone seems to know one another. It may be fanciful but looking in from the outside, how good would it be for some kind of council of denim heads. A united body of industry figures that can also protect or rally in support of an issue. It's a debate for another time, but it would be good to have a body that could certify the sustainable values of a brand or mill, so the consumer knows. They all can make nice mission statements...
I won't pretend to know all the ins and out of the industry, but always one to look at something another way. Should Cone be attacked for the closure, or should they be be given a little well done for being the last one battling to stay open with declining sales of White Oak stock. Now, I'm not going to pretend words here can make any difference in the face of families that now have bread winners out of work. But Cone is a mill brand with an un rivaled history and it is this history that I love in the denim story. The routes of the early miner and worker beginnings that then developed and followed that of pop culture. Cone has been there all along, once the worlds largest mill, and if you have never heard of it - they were the ones that supplied the material for the 501.
The hipster craze over the last decade of selvedge jeans (I got the Telleson and special Cone 501 myself.. but also the Japanese brands) waned and as people tighten their belt, they can now get selvedge in the same place they buy their groceries. Fast fashion reigns, not a good place to be in slow fashion. I bought some of mine knowing I would wear them for a decade, not a night out.
I saw it in my university town where the furniture industry bombed. Any industry would with Ikea in every home. We may say that Jeans are democratic, but do we all want the same, do we all want it cheap - and at what cost - to the workers, to the environment? And of course with a good selvedge, the jeans become unique to the owner with ever fade and evolution. I may be looking at this from an artist point of view, but I respect and value craftsmanship, knowledge, heritage, authenticity.
Do well all want to buy cheap art from the final section in a blue a yellow boxed building, yes, it makes art affordable and accessible to more, but at what cost to original creators? What hope do young un found artists have to sell an original piece when someone compares it to a mass produced print?
Back to Cone, In an official statement it was said