Vintage Gold | Ohio Knitting Mills | A Continuous Lean.

Vintage Gold | Ohio Knitting Mills

Dec 23rd, 2008 | Categories: Americana, Style | by Michael Williams

Ohio Knitting Mills has been pretty widely reported on the blogs, but I couldn’t resist posting something on the Cleveland based operation. The original incarnation of the company was “Founded by Harry Stone in 1928, the Ohio Knitting Mills grew to become one of the country’s largest knitwear producers, and was at the center of Cleveland, Ohio’s thriving garment industry. Three generations of the Stone-Rand family ran the Mill for 76 years, producing knitwear for iconic department stores from Sears to Saks, and revered labels like Pendleton, Van Heusen, and Jack Winter.”

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Eventually the company went out of business and sat idle until one day when artist Steven Tatar wandered into the massive factory and discovered a treasure trove of men’s and women’s samples. We’re talking 10,000 original knitwear samples from decades of business. So Mr. Tatar decided to purchase and subsequently sell off the vintage collection through a temporary Brooklyn store and the company’s website. The interesting thing to note here (and the reason I wanted to post this now), is that these samples should have been used to reproduce a vintage knitwear collection, NOT to be sold off piece by piece. I suppose their loss is your gain. The sad thing is, this may be the only way you can buy an American made sweater at this point.

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Comments: 11

11 Comments to “Vintage Gold | Ohio Knitting Mills”

  1. Sam
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 12:40 PM

    Too bad the store on Smith Street is already gone.

  2. Ms. P&C
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 12:46 PM

    Agreed. These should be archived. They probably don’t even make the same guage of wool or dyelots any more!

  3. Jessica
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 1:10 PM

    These look so beautiful and comfortable. I am jealous of who ever has that blug cardigan

  4. David G.
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 1:49 PM

    The sweaters above are great. What a shame.

    By the way, Engineered Garments for FW08 had commissioned work from Centralia Knitting Mills (http://www.centraliaknittingmills.com) in Washington state to make a knit cardigan in what appears to be a similar gauge as the blue one above. Here’s a link to a Japanese site that has pics of the cardigan: http://www.nalu.co.jp/collection/eg/multipocket-knitcardigan.html

  5. robbo
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 4:11 PM

    yeh the blue one is killer

  6. stephanie
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 4:22 PM

    I love seeing what comes out of their archives.

  7. David
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 4:34 PM

    The royal blue cardigan is appropriately the “Mr. Rogers”.

  8. Peter
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 8:38 PM

    Glad they’re out there, but they don’t look like they have a very contemporary fit. the crewneck looks short and wide and the cardigans look schlumpfy.

  9. A
    on Dec 23rd, 2008
    @ 8:39 PM

    I could have sworn reading that they were saving samples to reproduce.

    And isn’t Steven Tatar the heir apparent to the American Greetings fortune?

    Yep. From papermag.com:

    Your great-grandfather started American Greetings selling postcards out of a shoebox in Union Terminal on Cleveland’s Public Square and your grandfather built it into a multi-billion dollar business. Is there a secret family recipe for building brands?

    Steven Tatar: Absolutely. I learned from working in my family’s business to know who you truly are, where you come from and to stay real to your roots. That’s where a brand’s soul lives and it can’t be created artificially.

    PS: What happens when you run out of original stock?

    ST: Well, that’s not going to happen too soon, but it will happen eventually. We’re interested in creating new designs that reflect the quality and quirky colors and patterns of the archived pieces — we have swatch samples back to the 1930s!

    PS: How do you plan to maintain the tradition of American craftsmanship? Will you be able to produce new product in America?

    ST: That’s a very challenging and confronting question for us. It’s well understood that manufacturing in America is rapidly disappearing. Many of the few remaining machines that our goods were made with have been destroyed. We’re looking high and low for producers to collaborate with in order to make new goods, and if they’re in the U.S., then all the better.

  10. real style real people
    on Dec 27th, 2008
    @ 2:58 PM

    wow- a very interesting read for myself, who comes from the land of cleve. :) :) glad I stopped by!

  11. abh1wordpress
    on Dec 30th, 2008
    @ 10:38 AM

    I think that an industrial revival of America should include the manufacture of old time sweaters like these. Look at the crap that passes for pullovers these days, those limp, high priced but low quality Banana Republic bland dry goods.

    These vintage sweaters were real quality, with heavy wool and deep colors to treasure for years.