In 1891, brothers Moses and Caesar Cone took their great names to the game of business and started a denim mill in Greensboro, North Carolina, they would call it White Oak Cone Mill. The name, White Oak, came from the celebration of an over 200 year old oak tree that stood as the pit stop for those travelling to Greensboro from surrounding communities and countryside. This nod to their town and heritage would stand as recurring importance for the brothers.
There’s a sense of romanticism that comes from imagining a denim production mill, stirring with busy indigo-dyed hands and the sounds of shuttle looms weaving together a run of American made denim. To this day, White Oak Cone Mill still produces their denim on shuttle looms held together with wooden parts. One would think the wood and leather would shift together in arthritis ridden movement, but instead with the invitation of speed, as it cranks together it begins to create a warm rhythmic sound and beautiful denim.
This appreciation for American-made quality and heritage existed within another two fellas across the country and a century apart. Tellason was founded in 2009 by Tony Patella and Pete Searson and was started with their first ever fit, the John Graham Mellor. The brand is also keen on celebrating the classic American production by employing the talents of companies like Tanner Goods for their leather patches and White Oak Cone Mill for all of their denim. The company over time came to expand their fits to include varying degrees of slimness throughout the leg and also worked with White Oak Cone to develop three different denim weights. The 12.5oz. contains more sulphur for a ready to wear denim that, considering most denim brands start with a weight of around 11oz. remains comfortable to start with less chance of bleeding. The 14.75oz. is heavy on the indigo, in fact it is one of the most saturated weaves White Oak has ever produced. And finally, there is your sturdy 16.5oz. treated with both wax and starch, this is the denim worthy of those looking to create deep breaks.
When considering the act of thoughtful sourcing, Tellason is a wonderful example of a denim brand that has made a claim to their ethics from the beginning, and never faltered. And it is so lovely to see this fresh faced brand working with a company that has remained dedicated to producing high quality denim, with the wise tact of hanging onto their antique machines and their long running employees. A mill where you can still imagine the hardworking faces and indigo stained finger tips but under the intentions of a kind of denim atelier.
– By Kirsten Geekie
Feature image by Jacquie Shaw.