Posted on April 03 2017
Saturday, while sifting through emails and drinking a small glass of chocolate stout, I found myself glancing up at the television to watch the men’s NCAA Final Four teams compete for March Madness glory. Now some may look at me and be fooled by my girly exterior at times, only to find that I am actually an extreme sports junkie. This year I was so busy running my business that I feared I had missed the window to fill out a March Madness bracket and turn it in to a local pool that I annually compete in. Lucky for me (and not so much for my poor competition), I was able to turn one in just in time. Amongst many of my bracket busters, I still have a chance to claim victory thanks to the University of North Carolina…the team I took to win it all.
Now even if you aren’t a huge fan of basketball, or any sport for that matter, there is something to be said about the competitive spirit of March Madness and the excitement…and heartbreak at times, that it brings. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that the WRITTEN Woman is fierce when faced with competition and doesn’t back down to any challenge.
UNC’s March Madness success in men’s basketball may be headlining the news currently, but did you know that the University, and North Carolina as a state have major ties to the fashion industry, as well? Let’s take a look at a few examples that come to mind.
The University of North Carolina has it’s own shade of blue, known as “Carolina Blue” or “Tarheel Blue”. I’ve often found myself using the phrase to describe a light shade of blue synonymous to baby blue. According to an article by The Chapel Hill Recorder there is actually great controversy as to which Pantone color is the official color deemed Carolina Blue. Nevertheless, it is one of the most widely known shades of blue.
J’s On Your Feet
You may have heard of one particular basketball alum coming out of UNC…Michael Jordan perhaps? Aside from a legendary career in the NBA, Michael Jordan’s legacy continues with one of the most coveted athletic shoes on the market since the 1980’s. The first Air Jordan’s were launched in 1985 as part of Jordan’s shoe contract with Nike. Since then, the Jordan brand has grown to a multi-billion dollar brand.
North Carolina Textile Mills
The state of North Carolina contributes largely to the domestic textile manufacturing industry. As with many industries in the U.S., the textile industry and domestic mills have undoubtedly taken a hit with the increase of industry outsourcing, however, North Carolina remains one of the few markets still afloat for textile resources.
If you were one of the millions of viewers watching the dramatic semifinal between UNC and Oregon, you know how holding on to the single point lead late in the second half over Oregon was very significant to their victory. Well some may say the same about North Carolina’s textile mill industry. While the industry has seen a decrease in mills and employment over the past 20 years, North Carolina continues to evolve and hold true to their tradition.
According to an article found on ncpedia.org, North Carolina has a rich legacy in textiles that dates back to the early 1800s. With its mild climate, plenty of accessible water power, a wealth of raw materials (cotton and lumber), and an abundance of cheap labor, North Carolina was an ideal environment for the booming textile industry. Aside from its resources, North Carolina’s success in the textile industry was also highly supported by the United States government.
In the first century of textile manufacturing (1820s-1920s), North Carolina mills produced and sold a lower-grade of yarn and cloth locally. This changed largely during the Civil War during the 1860s. In fact, during the last months of the war, the Confederacy drew its entire supply of textile goods from North Carolina alone. Post-Civil War, a law was passed by the U.S Congress exempting federal taxes on locally grown and manufactured cotton textiles. This tax exemption was the incentive to bring foreign textiles to the South to exploit competitive edge and cheap labor.
By WWI, there was an increased demand for American-made textile goods, particularly for uniforms and other apparel. This demand stimulated the North Carolina textile industry and resulted in a large increase of textile mills in the state. After WWI ended in 1918, North Carolina actually took over Massachusetts as the leading textile-producing state in the nation, by value of product, producing almost $200 million in textile products.
Mergers and takeovers were all factors in the North Carolina textile industry decline beginning in the 1980s. By 1986, over 800 mills closed nationwide and employment was affected significantly. Other factors including free trade agreements such as NAFTA passed in 1994 increased textile imports tremendously and resulted in even more jobs lost in North Carolina.
Refusing to face defeat, just like UNC basketball, North Carolina began to focus on new technologies and specialized products outside the realm of apparel in 2006. Today North Carolina’s 700 textile manufacturing establishments, including Gildan Activewear and Hanes Brands Inc., and workforce of more than 42,000 comprise the largest textile mill industry in the United States. The state is also leading the way in non-wovens research at North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles.
So as you watch the NCAA Final tonight between UNC and Gonzaga, your March Madness bracket may not be all to keep in mind. Remember all that North Carolina has contributed to the fashion world too. After all, we’re just watching to root for the best dressed team anyway, right?
WRITTEN Founder & Creative Director: Emily Carlson