Cone Denim adding more vintage looms

by Harry Sheff

Cone Denim has begun installation of a number of vintage American Draper X3 shuttle looms to increase selvage denim capacity in its White Oak mill in Greensboro, N.C. Cone had phased out the shuttle looms in the 1980s but gradually brought all of the ones it had saved into production again in the late 1990s (pictured below). The mill had to search scrap yards and abandoned mills for more old denim looms. Once some looms were located, they had to restored and parts had to be fabricated.

Cone Denim Shuttle Looms

Installation will be finished by the end of next month. When the looms are running, they should help boost selvage denim capacity by 25 percent, the company says.

“Demand continues to grow for authentic made in the USA selvage denims and has exceeded the capacity of our current X3 looms,” said Cone’s VP of product development and marketing Kara Nicholas. “With no more looms in storage we began searching; this is an extraordinary find for us.”

Nicholas added, “In some ways finding the looms may have been the easiest part. The restoration of the looms has been tedious and would have been impossible without the expertise of our technicians, many who worked on the original X3 looms.”

Ken Kunberger, president and COO of Cone Denim and International Textile Group said, “We recognize the unique capabilities of White Oak and the growing demand for made in America denim fabrics and garments. It is exciting to strategically invest in our U.S. manufacturing base and to further the White Oak legacy. Our customers and the consumer’s passion for authentic American selvage denim coupled with the history and heritage of White Oak continues to grow.”