With a deep history in textile manufacturing and fashion design and NCSU’s College of Textiles based in Raleigh, North Carolina continues to be a place independent designers, fashion brands and textile startups are starting up. 

They’re creating new jobs in the state all while promoting social, ethical and environmental consciousness, helping to refine an industry that has been a staple of the North Carolina economy since the 1800s
Meet eight of these companies below. 

Opportunity Threads 

Opportunity Threads is a worker-owned, cut and sew textile plant based in Morgantown, NC. This young business offers sampling, handwork, upcycling and production of over 25,000 units for mid-to-large production scale designers. What makes Opportunity Threads unique is that everyone in the plant is hired with the expectation they’ll become a worker-owner after a 12-18 month vetting process. As an employee-owned business, workers and their families benefit from the success and growth of Opportunity Threads. That’s especially important because many employees are Mayan immigrants who came to Morgantown after the Guatemalan civil war in the 1960s. Some of Opportunity Thread’s clients include Appalatch, which makes clothing out of recyclable and biodegradable material like wool and cashmere; Project Repeat, which upcycle T-shirts into quilts; and Zady, a brand that focuses on fighting the systemic high environmental and social cost of clothing production. 

Raleigh Denim 

Victor Lytvinenko and Sarah Yarborough, a husband and wife duo from Raleigh, started Raleigh Denim Workshop in 2007. They use denim sourced from the Cone Mills White Oak plant in Greensboro, which has been providing denim materials to apparel brands since 1891. In addition to producing their jeans in their workshop in downtown Raleigh, they have managed to create the smallest carbon footprint on Earth for a pair jeans. Raleigh Denim worked with Cone Mill’s parent company International Textile Group to create the fabric organically. The cotton is grown in North Carolina, spun into fabric in Greensboro, and then finally turned into a pair of jeans in their workshop in Raleigh. Attached to the workshop is their “curatory” where you can try on a pair for yourself. Raleigh Denim jeans are sold in upscale retail stores all over the U.S. 

Hudson Hill 

Hudson Hill was born when Greensboro startups Civic Threads and Gate City Dry Goods merged, and is now housed in the old Coe Grocery & Seed Company building in downtown Greensboro. Civic Threads sells activism-inspired local clothing and goods, and Gate City Dry Goods combines home-grown, high-quality materials into American-made vintage-inspired garments. The two combine to create Hudson Hill, where you can not only buy high quality denim and leather products but have the jeans you live in repaired. Evan Morrison and William Clayton, along with Clayton’s father Tinker are redefining the way people look at jeans. Before jeans were bought pre-ripped, pre-washed, and pre-worn, jeans had to be lived-in to look lived-in. Clayton and Morrison now sell jeans from brands such as Raleigh Denim, Mary James and W.H. Ranch, that are meant to be worn for years, sold stiff and thick, but one day will fit you perfectly.