wolf white oakA Series Of Several Expos

The White Oak Legacy Foundation, also known as W.O.L.F., keeps the heritage of the legendary White Oak mill in Greensboro, North Carolina alive. They aim to preserve the long and important denim history, but also to educate and inspire people in and outside the industry. Therefore they planned a series of several expos this upcoming period, and they will kick-off with ‘Innovations in Blue’.

wolf touchstone

The Touchstone Patent

The focus of the ‘Innovations in Blue’ expo is about a milestone innovation that was created by employees of the White Oak denim mill in Greensboro in the early 1900s. The U.S. Patent & Trademark issued a patent for the innovation in December 1921, so 100 years ago. The patent covers a continuous yarn dye system for indigo, which today is used around the world in the commercial production of denim fabrics. The patent is referred to as the ‘Touchstone’ patent, named for one of the inventors, Benjamin Touchstone. The patent is still cited in patent filings as prior art today as many modern machines use the innovations from the Touchstone machine as a baseline.

Together with the help of museum consultant Dan Spock they will share and show the unique story in the upcoming expo that will start this October the 10th and will run until March the 31st, 2022.

wolf touchstone

What To Expect At The Expo

With the ‘Innovations in Blue’ expo visitors will get a brief explanation of how denim fabrics are made from cotton and indigo. It will tell the story of the invention of synthetic indigo in the late 1800s by German chemist Adolf von Baeyer. With the invention of synthetic indigo, the White Oak denim mill transitioned away from using natural indigo dye to the new form of synthetic indigo. The expo will show also an illustration of how White Oak employees dyed yarn with indigo before the Touchstone invention using large vats of indigo. It will feature a graphic illustration of the Touchstone innovation using an original drawing from the 1921 patent. And, it will feature information about master dyer Floyd Virgil Hayes too, who worked at White Oak denim mill in the 1940s.

In addition, the expo will reference some recent examples of new forms of indigo dyeing, which are more environmentally sustainable and may be used in the future. 

All in all, a must-visit for everyone with an interest in denim and history in general. Learn all about an important moment in denim history that occurred at the historic White Oak denim mill 100 years ago and led to the development of American blue jeans. 

wolf touchstone

The Location Of The Expo

The location of the expo is historic Revolution Mill, located near White Oak denim mill. Opened in 1898 by brothers Moses and Ceasar Cone, Revolution Mill has been fully renovated. It was the site of the first flannel mill in the Southern United States. By 1904 more than 1,000 looms were working 16 hours a day at the site. Today, one of its tenants is Kontoor (owner of Wrangler and Lee brands), who operates a business unit at this beautiful old manufacturing facility.

When & Where?

The ‘Innovations in Blue’ expo will run October 10, 2021 – March 31, 2022, in the Atrium of 1250 Revolution Mill in Greensboro, NC. Admission is free, for information or a special tour contact: denim101@wolfdenim.org

wolf touchstone


Showcase your brand or product on Long John to reach your target audience, read more about it here, or send an email for the possibilities: wouter@long-john.nl

Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.