The profitable Minneapolis flour and lumber industries of the late nineteenth century have a tendency to overshadow its lesser-known textile industry, but in 1912 the Northwestern Knitting Company became the nation’s leading manufacturer of undergarments. Financially backed by two top millers, Clinton Morrison and Charles Pillsbury, the Northwestern Knitting Company operated under similar strategies of the flour giants: a focus on technological and imaginative innovation.
In 1888, the company’s founder, George Munsing, invented a method of plating woolen fibers with cotton to take the "itch" out of woolen underwear. The less bulky, single-piece undergarments patented in 1891 propelled NWKC to become the industry standard for both household and military use.
The Northwestern Knitting Company continued to thrive through the twentieth century, producing a number of diversified product lines until 1981 when a deteriorating national economy forced the factory in Minneapolis to close.
The reintroduction of NWKC comes with heavy parallels to its past and a vision for what is to come. Its Merino Dual Cloth, a modern interpretation of George Munsing's original fabric, utilizes a patented construction of its own, knit exclusively for NWKC by the industry leading textile manufacturer Coville in North Carolina.
From there, the fabric is sent to New York City's Garment District, an iconic neighborhood industry previously depleted by overseas manufacturing until its resurgence over the past decade holding its ground as a global leader for quality industrial sewing.
Once cut and sewn, each garment is finished back in its original home, Minneapolis. Its trademark badge is also knit exclusively for NWKC by Minnesota Knitting Mills, a century old facility in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Each piece of this process contributes to making the revival of the Northwestern Knitting Co. something of quality and substance, echoing through its fabric, construction, and most importantly its details.