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Why We Look - Factory Visits, North Carolina, 2021


Friends and Patrons of American Trench,

Last month, I had the privilege to visit some of our key manufacturing partners in North Carolina. This type of exploring wasn’t possible in the past year of life - but in the span of three days, myself and two Trench staff members flew from Philly to Charlotte, rented a car, and logged hundreds of miles in pursuit of rekindling some of the relationships we’ve forged with folks in South-Central N.C.

 

We visited a retail partner, Tabor CLT (such a good store). We stopped at three sock factories. A couple of yarn manufacturers. A bag factory. Even a sock finishing factory - which, as the folks there will remind you, is different from a regular mill. We even managed to squeeze in a pretty nice dinner in Asheville at the Laughing Seed Cafe. This trip was packed with programming. We hustled. But it felt great to see our manufacturing partners once again.

At Hill Spinning, raw cotton enters one side of the building, and beautiful finished cotton yarn comes out the other. The process of cleaning the cotton and then spinning it on giant spinning frames is unbelievable. It’s transformative. Humbling, even. This was my second time visiting Hill, but the experience was just as impressive. On this trip, we were able to see cotton transform into yarn, and yarn transform into socks. Even seeing this much of the process, it’s still incomplete. It really starts in the earth - a farmer's toil turns seed into plant, but we'll have to save that tour for the next trip.

Every time you visit a factory you learn something new. A process you didn’t know about. A product you didn’t know was possible. Materials you didn’t know even existed. On this trip we walked into some of the cavernous back-rooms found in most factories, our phone flashlights panning boxes for yarn and other buried treasure. In one factory, we found teal dyed yarn - an exciting discovery that we hope to feature next spring.

Uncovering exciting colors spurs a conversation that usually goes something like this: “I didn’t know you had teal yarn.” “You didn’t ask.” “How would I know to ask if you don’t tell me?” Teal! The better question is, “How would we know to ask if we didn’t come here to look in the first place?” That conversation, which is so familiar by now, is exactly why we visit. There’s no way to know what else is in the vault by email or phone call. There’s limits to what screens can see. In spending time at these factories, seeing their depths with your own eyes, you'll peel back another sweet layer of the onion.

Some Items From Our Factories...

Beach Tote

Kennedy Socks

Silver Crew