BRISTOL (WATE) - One hundred years American-made. It's a title one East Tennessee company wears proudly. You may be wearing their fashions and not even know it.
For one hundred years, L.C. King Manufacturing has been making denim.
Not a lot has changed. Some of the equipment dates back to the early days of the company. The original tin ceiling is still intact. And the elevator harkens back to a different era.
It's safe to say one thing this company has learned over the years is, why mess with tradition?
"My great grandfather started this factory in downtown Bristol, Tennessee," Jack King said. "We have been continuously running and manufacturing in Tennessee for 100 years."
A building on 7th Street in Bristol has been the company's home since 1913. The business was started by L.C. King and is now run by his great grandson, Jack.
"When we first opened up we were mostly known for overalls, jackets and pants, workwear pants."
That line would become The Pointer Brand of clothes, named after another important member of the family.
"My great-grandfather was an avid hunter," he said. "He had a fantastic dog, so he just decided to make his workwear brand, Pointer Brand."
But don't be fooled into thinking that everything has to do with workwear.
In fact, Pointer has its eye set on fashion, including a collaboration with a Knoxville designer Marc Nelson and some high-end fashion you will find in the best department stores.
"We are working with designers like Marc Nelson out of Knoxville and a designer named Junya Watanabe in Japan," he said. "If you know fashion, you are familiar with Watanabe because what he does is takes authentic vintage brands, deconstructs them and then re-sews and sells in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus."
Watanabe's partnership with Pointer is noted on fashion sites online and King told us some of the deconstructed jackets sell for up to $1,600 and it all starts in Bristol with what King says are all American components.
King says he may not be able to compete with other brand names that outsource work overseas when it comes to price, but he says when it comes to quality and tradition, Pointer can't be beat.
"To be 100 years and to continually made in America is just awesome. That's the only way to describe it," he said.
In the past, L.C. King Manufacturing has done runs for Bass Pro Shops and for Sears and they are getting ready to roll out something new, sort of.
They are redesigning a classic men's 80s, five-pocket jean. It will be called the Lot 158 Original blue jean.
King says it won't have all the embellishments and extra low rise found on most of today's denim. It will be available by the end of the month.
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