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- When the legendary Cone Mills closed the doors to its last denim factory in America, menswear brand Taylor Stitch set out to redevelop its signature ’68 Denim with a new material that was just as high quality.
- After more than a year of research, development, and logistics, the brand is re-releasing the ’68 Denim – and this time it’s 100% organic and more sustainably made.
- I tried new jeans and the Taylor Stitch Organic ’68 Denim is just as good as any jeans made with Cone Mills denim that I’ve owned. And on top of that, they’re better than some more expensive Selvedge jeans I’ve worn.
In 2017, legendary cotton textile company Cone Mills closed the doors to its White Oak plant in Greensboro, North Carolina. As the very last U.S. denim factory in existence, the end of production came as a big deal for brands that relied on its American-made Selvedge denim for their own products and the consumers who loved them. It was the end of an era that had spanned more than 120 years.
Naturally, retailers scrambled to buy as much of the remaining denim stock as possible to continue producing their styles, but there wasn’t enough to last forever. While certain brands’ styles came to an end when the supply ran out, that was never an option for Taylor Stitch.
The San Francisco-based menswear brand had partnered with Cone Mills in 2011 to produce its signature ’68 Denim, so instead of letting its staple pair of jeans fall by the wayside, they set out to keep making denim that was just as good when the supply ran out.
After about a year of searching for a new mill that could live up to the task, Taylor Stitch re-released its ’68 Denim – and this time it’s 100% organic and more sustainably made than before. And, as the brand had hoped and as I can attest, even the most loyal Cone Mills fans won’t mind the updates.
Custom-developed and manufactured in collaboration with ISKO mill, the largest producer of denim in the world, the new Taylor Stitch Organic Cotton ’68 Selvedge Denim is made in Turkey and assembled in China. It features a heavy 13-ounce weight, a custom double green ticker Selvedge ID, solid copper YKK hardware, and a unique map of San Francisco on the pockets.
Taylor Stitch’s lead denim designer Nick Kemp, who comes from Levi’s Taylor Shop and his own bespoke, made-to-measure denim company, knows a thing or two about quality denim. He was responsible for making sure the new design was up to par.
“For all intents and purposes, it’s the exact same,” Kemp told Business Insider. “ISKO and Cone Mills had a partnership developing denim together for many years. It’s just as strong, starts off just as inky blue, and fades just as beautifully. The only difference is the new one is 100% organic and better for our planet from start to finish.”
How they’re made
Traditional cotton uses 25% of the world’s insecticides, which is harmful to the environment. I hate to break it to you (and we’re all a little guilty), but that means every time you buy jeans, T-shirts, sheets, towels, and anything else made out of non-organic cotton, you’re indirectly supporting an industry that pollutes the earth. Organic cotton, on the other hand, uses zero insecticides to grow.
ISKO has also implemented production methods that save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water annually, countless watts of energy, and uses fewer chemicals.
What they’re like to wear
With claims of being virtually identical to the Cone Mills pairs, I decided to give them a try. While I haven’t personally worn Taylor Stitch’s Cone Mills denim, I have worn a variety of other Selvedge jeans, some of which were Cone Mills.
I went with the Taylor Stitch Organic ’68 Selvedge Denim in the slim fit. My first impression was that they’re very luxe and heavy, which is exactly what you should expect for Selvedge jeans priced at $148. While the jeans alone are well worth the price simply based on how they feel, I was actually most impressed with the logistics that went into making them possible. Switching over to organic materials and water- and energy-saving production methods comes at a cost that’s not feasible for a lot of brands, but Taylor Stitch made it happen, and the price is still fair. Details like the copper buttons, rivets, and zippers, the leather waist logo, and the exposed green Selvedge line really prove that corners weren’t cut to offset the production costs.
The only downside I could find was that all the jeans, regardless of the waist size, come with a 36-inch inseam length. I believe that this is done to accommodate the large double (or triple) cuff style as seen in the brand’s images. I, however, am shorter and prefer a single cuff, so I had mine tailored down to a 32-inch inseam. I paid $15 to have this done at a local dry cleaner I trust for basic garment alternations and they were perfect. This still wasn’t a deal-breaker because even the extra few bucks I spent, they’re still cheaper than other Selvedge I’ve worn.
The bottom line
For people who were once fans of Cone Mills’ American-made Selvedge, Taylor Stitch’s Organic ’68 Selvedge Denim is the alternative that will make you forget they ever closed. Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to wear a pair, the Organic ’68 Selvedge will not disappoint. They’re hard, heavy, built for the long haul, and responsibly made. If you’re looking for a rich, deep-blue pair of Selvedge jeans to wear into until a faded state of personalized perfection, these are the jeans for you.