Mon October 15, 2012
Glenn Beck's Blue Jeans: Made in Kentucky
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck is putting the brand in firebrand.
Beck has launched his own brand of blue jeans. The 1791 Supply & Co. is a response to companies like Levi's, which make many of their lines overseas (though US-made pants are available). Beck has been critical of Levi's, and last year, he notably announced that he would no longer wear Levi's due to manufacturing practices and the “go forth” advertising campaign, which Beck said “glorified revolution.”
The company touts that 1791 jeans are “spun at Cone Denim Mills in Greensboro, North Carolina and cut and sewn at a Kentucky factory that opened during the 1920s.”
I called the 1791 company to find out just where in Kentucky the pants are put together. They declined to say, but a source tells us it's the Elk Brand Manufacturing facility in Cadiz. Elk Brand began in 1924. I called to ask if they've staffed up to handle the new contract, but the staff there referred me to the head office in Nashville, and my request for comment has not been returned. (Jeans makers are listed in this directory of Kentucky business).
The 1791 name is a reference to the ratification of the Bill of Rights, and the company has been around selling t-shirts and other apparel since last year. The first patent related to blue jeans was filed some 80 years after 1791, and the branding around the pants taps into the increasingly-hip Americana of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 1791 Tumblr page reblogs pictures of people in fashionable new-retro work clothes (one post says “Women in chore coats! We love that”).
The branding seems similar to Levi's, and the pants are apparently similar to original or classic pairs of Levi's, made of the modern, dark selvedge-style denim that jeans lovers are seeking out these days.
A few blogs are having fun with the fact that Glenn Beck is selling hip jeans. But what may be more surprising is that the 1791 site is largely free of political messages, and at $130, the jeans undersell American-made Levi's by about $50. The company may be coming from a political person and political place, but it seems strictly business.
And politics aside, Kentucky is no stranger to producing products at the edge of fashion or technology. In 2008, Noah Adams profiled a Henderson company that doesn't build jeans, but breaks them in, giving them the stylish stone wash look. And earlier this year, the press flocked to Harrodsburg when it was discovered that a plant there was manufacturing Gorilla Glass, which is used in the iPhone.