white oak legacy foundation

The Innovations In Blue Expo

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. Last October they did a kick-off expo called Innovations in Bluewhich is running until the end of this month.

The exhibit is on display at Revolution Mill in Greensboro, North Carolina USA. Revolution Mill is nearby White Oak. Kontoor (mother company of Wrangler and Lee) has office space in Revolution Mill. White Oak Legacy Foundation has held several educational events around the exhibit.

wolf touchstone

The Content Of The Expo

The focus of this expo was 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.

Now, they made a video about ‘Innovations in Blue’ story. Four people are interviewed which are all very qualified on the subject:

  • Carlyle Hanson is a designer at Lee jeans with 20+ years experience in the denim business. He has participated in some of the W.O.L.F. events.
  • Virginia Postrel is author of the excellent new book, ‘The Fabric of Civilization – How Textiles Made the World.’ Virginia is based in Los Angeles. She spoke at the opening of the ‘Innovations in Blue’ exhibit in October 2021.
  • Jack Hicks is a patent lawyer for the international law firm, Womble Bond Dickinson. Jack works for textile and furniture companies.
  • Ralph Tharpe was a denim product developer for Cone Denim, Artistic Fabric Mills and American Denimatrix. He is founder of White Oak Legacy Foundation.

The Production Of The Video

The video was produced by the Media Studies Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The script was written by historian Dan Spock, who is a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina. The narrator is William Walker, who does narration for Audible Books.


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.