Greensboro, North Carolina
International Textile Group
Today we had the pleasure of meeting with the International Textile Group. We traveled to Raeford, NC and were able to tour the Burlington Raeford Plant. The Raeford plant is one of the last standing American manufacturing plants. They specialize in manufacturing yarns that are turned into US public service apparel, band, and most importantly, military apparel and uniforms. Meeting with the plant manager, Calvin, and the plant supervisors was a once in a lifetime experience. Once on the tour, we were able to see the processes being completed from fiber to finish.
The steps that go into dyeing the fabrics to the perfect color on the spectrum are abundant. Once the woolen and polyester fibers are dyed individually, they are blended together. Numerous tests are run on different samples from the barrels of wool to test the coloring, to ensure the consistency of the color. Blending is a huge step when creating garments that need to be uniform. If one of the batches of yarn is off, there are multiple processes that go into color analysis that ensure the products are the same color.
After visiting NC State last week, it was nice finding out that the Raeford plant works closely with NC State students. The students assist in running tests on the textiles, checking the finishes, and analyzing data for the plant.
ITG Plant – Raeford, North Carolina
Group Photo with Raeford Plant Management
Today we were lucky enough to be able to meet with many execs at UNIFI. UNIFI is known for its production of multi-filament fibers and yarns used in textiles all around the world. Repreve is UNIFI’s newest branded type of fiber. The yarn is made out of recycled plastic, collected from plastic drinking bottles. This polyester is 100% recycled and is found in some garments we all own! Brands such as The North Face use Repreve in their Polar Fleece material, which is used in many of their garments. We were able to see the steps involved in producing Repreve- from melting the chips of plastic, to seeing the fibers extruded from the spinnerettes. One extremely unique thing a about the factory was that they are 100% green and recycle all of their materials and fully treat their waste.
The first hand sights at the factory came completely full circle during our afternoon appointment with Bill Jasper, the CEO of UNIFI. Along with that title, Bill is also the President of the National Council of Textiles Organization. Bill discussed Repreve more in-depth and shared that is this year’s X-Games green sponsor. Repreve hats are going to be handed out during the winter games, in hopes that a “sea of green” is created. This is just one of their unique marketing tactics that will jump off the Repreve marketing directly to the consumer. Bill expanded on the sustainability within the UNIFI company, and the Repreve brand. It was great getting to see the two different factories and visually compare the different procedures within each. I am eager to watch the X-games and look out for the green hats, and I am also excited to see more Repreve products being marketed to the consumer.
Group Photo with Unifi Management, Yadkinville, North Carolina
Photo with Bill Jasper, CEO of Unifi Inc.
Repreve Water Bottle
Today we were able to meet with Tom Glaser who is the VP of Global Operations and Supply Chains for VF Corporation. VF owns many well known brands such as Nautica, The North Face, Ella Moss, and Wrangler. Tom discussed his role in acquiring companies, and the importance of creating a synergy with the multiple product types and brands that company holds ownership of.
Our afternoon was spent discussing up and coming innovative advances in textiles with Joe Gorga, the CEO of International Textile Group and his team at the offices. Previously in the week, we were fortunate enough to visit two of their plants and tour the facilities. Getting to speak with them about the product and the way their developments truly impact the lives of consumers and workers all over, had a huge impact on me. One of the newest developments we were able to discuss was the invention of No Fly Zone, which, from my understanding, is a finish that is created to repel insects and bugs. This will be extremely useful for people who partake in outdoor sports, but also to our soldiers and military officials. Lunch was served as we gawked and swooned over the denim samples strewn about the room. Shopping is always on the brain.
The final stop of our journey was definitely one of the highlights. We toured the Cone Denim factory which is the oldest functioning denim factory in the world. It produces denim for many companies such as Anthropologie, Blue Lab, and Raleigh Denim, which we had the pleasure of visiting earlier in our trip. We walked through the processes of seeing the yarns being spun, dyed, and even got to see the different dyeing tactics that were applied to the denim fabrics. Along the tour, we were lucky to run into Mildred, one of the oldest employees in the factory and a local celebrity. A new innovation is using colored bottles to tint the dye (green, brown). Another feature unique to the Cone facility is their ability to create any color selvage on the inside of the denim. Over all this was an amazing appointment that truly sparked all of our interests. I love a great pair of jeans, but I never truly thought about all the processes that go into purchasing a well-made pair of denim.
VF Corp in Greensboro, North Carolina
A pair of denim shoes manufactured with Cone Denim
Spools of yarn, pre-finishing and weaving.
Cone Mills Plant
Production of Denim at Cone Mills
- Group photo with Mildred Bolen, a long time employee and local celebrity, at Cone Mills