We can’t explain how thrilled we were once we heard that Cone Denim wanted to collaborate with us! Especially once they told us that we were going to be granted three rolls of deadstock White Oak denim! For those who are unaware, Cone Denim was the silent force behind brands like Levi’s, Wrangler and Lee during the 20th century. As far as we’re concerned, Cone Denim was responsible for the transition of denim from workwear to day to day wear. Cone denim is what Elvis was for music, Michael Jordan was to basketball. They changed the game!!!

The kimonos are made from Cone Denim fabric that was produced in their legendary White Oak mill located in Greensboro, North Carolina. One of the most famous mills in the denim industry. White Oak fabric is seen as the holy grail, a true testament to heritage and quality production. The Cone Denim White Oak label became a powerful marketing tool, a sign that is synonymous with high-quality goods. Furthermore, it became a brand on itself, in contrast to other denim mills. Folklore of this mill made its way through the denim world. For example, stories of how the wooden floors would squeak under the weight of looms running at full speed.

The White Oak denim mill was founded by the Cone brothers in 1905. The White Oak mill would end up to be the largest denim mill on earth! The mill was named after a grand, 200-year-old, white oak which stood in front of the factory. History tells us that people from neighbouring villages would come to this tree to meet since they would be protected by the branches of the tree from rain and sun.

The Cone brothers were no strangers to denim production. Moses and Cesar Cone were sales representatives of 50 textile mills in the North Carolina area in 1891. They marketed the mills' cloth to the rest of the world. This was to be the beginning of their legacy in the North American clothing industry. After some mishaps with the aforementioned mills, they decided to set up their own two mills. From that point onward they focused solely on the production of denim, with exception of World War efforts. In 1936, Cone turned the denim industry upside down when they introduced their Cone ‘Deeptone Denim’. This fabric had better colour, smoother finish and was much more attractive to post-war consumers. This was, in our eyes, the beginning of denims transition from workwear to casual wear. Cone Denims success was their ability to adapt to the consumers growing desire for denim in their daily life. The White Oak denim mill played a huge roll in that adaption and with that established its legendary status.

The White Oak mill was the last running denim mill in the United States, the country where denim was cultivated and embedded into modern culture. We feel sad to say that the famous mill had to close its doors in 2017. Most of the denim production was moved to other parts of the world. The closing of this mill meant the loss of the last piece of American denim heritage. Luckily over the course of the 20th century, a lot of amazing and innovative denim mills have been founded around the world, yet they all lack the true historical value that White Oak had.

For this reason, we truly feel honoured that we were able to work with these last pieces of White Oak denim. The first Tenue de Nîmes jeans were made with White Oak denim and we consider the good people over there as our friends. What made the collaboration even more special is that our Tenue de Nîmes tailor, Joery, was the one who actually made these kimonos. The collaboration consists of three iconic fabrics; a double indigo fabric, a natural indigo fabric, and their famous 1968 fabric. This collaboration is an ode to the heritage of denim, the White Oak mill and Cone Denim as a company. Cone Denim still exists (luckily!) and remains to push the envelope in the denim industry. They represent what the true denim industry is all about – Innovation, making quality products that will stand the test of time, and working together.

Shop the Tenue de Nîmes x Cone Denim kimonos