CONE MILLS DENIM ARCHIVE BIB OVERALL

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WHY THE OVERALL IS SUCH A REMARKABLE GARMENT FOR THE DENIM HISTORY?

The overall was the garment of choice for American workwear because it was built to last. The denim fabric was rugged and dependable for long wear. The dark colour of the fabric helped the work garment looking new and crisp for a longer period of time. In addition to the benefits of the denim fabric, the garment was constructed to be functional, protective and sturdy.

HISTORICALLY WHAT ARE THE MOST RELEVANT FABRICS SOLD BY CONE MILLS FOR THE OVERALLS PRODUCTION?

The most historical connections to the overall and American workwear for Cone are the ‘Cone Deeptone Denim’ collection and Lee Jelt fabric. We are very thankful for the innovative marketing efforts of Cone Mills with the introduction of the ‘Cone Deeptone Denim’ collection. These fabrics were advertised to the end consumer in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s touting the benefits of purchasing garments made with Cone Deeptone Denim – durability, tough leathery finish and steadfast promise of stay fast colour. Many brands during that time period co-branded with labels applied to the outside of the garment that read ‘Made of Cone Deeptone’ – we have some of these co-branded vintage overalls in our archival collection and this concept served as the inspiration for the ‘Made of White Oak Cone Denim’ selvedge labels we first introduced in 2004. Lee’s Jelt Denim Overalls were made with Cone fabric style 818. Lee had a very successful campaign advertising the strength and durability of Jelt Overalls based on its “tough, super-twisted yarn”. We have a swatch of the original Cone 818 fabric in a vintage Cone Deeptone Denim swatchbook.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS IN THE HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF THE CONE MILLS’ DENIM WEIGHTS USED IN THE OVERALLS PRODUCTION?

The denim for overall garments was designed to be strong, lightweight and a darker indigo cast – these were the attributes that were the most desirable for workers. Strong ring-spun yarns were woven into lighter weight compact 2×1 constructions. Weights typically ranged from 9-11oz. The lighter weight fabrics were comfortable and suitable for working outdoors (or indoors) in warmer climates. Different colour weft yarns were used – natural, grey and black. The darker weft yarns provided a deeper shade appearance.

IN YOUR OPINION WHAT ARE THE FUNDAMENTAL FEATURES OF A FABRIC TO BE USED FOR AN OVERALL (IN THE PAST AND TODAY)?

Today we have replicated the 2×1 fabrics from our ‘Deeptone Denim’ collection in our White Oak Selvage offering. These fabrics are woven on vintage American Draper X-3 model looms dating from the 1940’s. The looms are positioned on the original wood flooring in a section of the White Oak weave room in Greensboro, NC. In addition to weaving on old looms, we are using yarns with ‘homespun’ character to mimic the inconsistency of the yarns available in the early days due to the yarn-spinning technology used at that time.