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Relocation of Ring Spinning Lowers Costs

Vintage Look Key to ACG’s Value-Added Denim Styles

By Lynette Cockerell

Ring Spinning

ACG’s Ring Spinning equipment. Photo by John Johnson

In a continuing effort to streamline production, American Cotton Growers (ACG) relocated three ring-spinning frames from its New Braunfels, Texas, plant to its denim mill in Littlefield, Texas. The equipment was dismantled on Feb. 14, 2004, and was fully operational in Littlefield on April 17, 2004. The move has made ring-spinning operations less complicated and lowered the production costs associated with ring-spun denim.

“Having the spinning frames (at Littlefield) saves on transportation costs and speeds up the production process,” said Jerry Jones, PCCA’s denim salesman and product development manager. “We no longer have to transport cotton to New Braunfels in order to produce ring-spun yarn and then transfer it back to Littlefield to be woven into fabric. We now do it all at the same location.”

The ring-spun look is the hot, new trend in denim fashion. Ring-spun denim is the fabric of the past resurrected for use in the fashions of today – it is rugged and strong yet soft to the touch. It is less refined and not as uniform as yarn produced through open-end spinning; however, its imperfections are important to the character of ring-spun denim due to the “slubs” of cotton that are found randomly throughout the yarn. Despite its intentional “imperfections,” ring-spun denim is stronger and normally will last longer than normal open-end denim. Because of its strength, the fabric also can withstand today’s more abrasive finishes.

“Up until the late 1960s and early 1970s, all denim was made from ring- spun yarn because that was the only way denim yarn was manufactured,” said Jack Mathews, ACG’s vice president of fabric sales and marketing. “Much of the current fashion inspiration comes from vintage styles, consequently everyone wants today’s new denim to look and feel like the denim of yesterday,” he explained.

Ring Spun Yarn

Ring-spun yarn is key to production of value-added denim styles at ACG. Photo by John Johnson

Highlights and character can be created in ring-spun fabric because it naturally has more surface interest due to the unevenness in the ring-spun yarn that cannot be recreated in open-end fabric.
“We simply cannot achieve authentic vintage denim characteristics with open-end yarn; therefore, ACG has gone back to the basics to produce the ring- spun denim fabric many customers are interested in purchasing,” Mathews said.

Ring-spun denim is more expensive to produce but also commands a premium price. The fabric now sells for almost a dollar more per yard than ACG’s basic denim. Currently, there are five ring-spun denim products in ACG’s line offering which includes 75 styles. Mathews estimates ring-spun fabric eventually will comprise 15 percent of ACG’s overall denim production.

“We certainly aren’t changing who we are at ACG, and we will continue to concentrate on producing core and value denim made from open-end yarn,” Mathews said. “We are using our ring-spun line to provide a premium product at a premium price for our current customers and to gain new customers who only use ring-spun fabric in their clothing lines,” he added.

ACG ring-spun denim now is being sold to Pacific Sunwear (PacSun) and Levi Strauss & Co.

The new ring-spun styles recently added to the line have been well received by target customers including Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Calvin Klein and Old Navy. ACG also is developing a ring-spun denim for Old Navy, a division of Gap Inc., which looks very promising.

“Adding ring-spun denim to our repertoire shows ACG is much more than a commodity-based plant because we can bring cutting-edge high fashion and innovation to our customers,” said Jones. “We’re really excited about our new ring-spun products, and they have been well received by our customers.”