By Laura Hrubaev, Wired Staff WriterFor most of the 20th century, Eugene, Ore., was a hub for textile manufacturing in the U.S. But the company behind it, Eugene Textile, has moved on.
It now makes industrial, consumer and industrial fabric for the textile industry in Japan and China, and it has a new plant opening in Los Angeles to produce textiles for apparel and consumer goods.
This week, it announced that it would move its manufacturing facility to Eugene, where the company hopes to create a new $5 million wall hanging for the Eugene Textiles center.
It also announced that its textile industry division, known as The Eugene Textilink, would be dissolved and merged with the Eugene-based company, which had been the largest textile manufacturer in the world.
Eugene is a small city of about 2,200 people, and a new company with more than 1,000 employees will have the city’s name, slogan and logo, all of which were designed by Eugene textile designer Michael Zappulla, according to a press release.
The new company will create new product lines and will be a leader in the textile world, with an extensive line of specialty textiles.
“The new company is a great opportunity for Eugene,” said Eugene Mayor Mike Curtin, who said the move is an investment in the future of the city and a welcome boost for the community.
“It’s going to create jobs and help us compete with other cities that have bigger textile plants.”
The Eugene-born company was founded in 1875, but its roots stretch far back.
Eugene began manufacturing textile products in its mill in 1871 and by the early 1900s had expanded into the world of clothing and furniture.
The Eugene plant was known as the “Crest of Textiles,” named for its distinctive crest of a tree and a cross of sheep.
In 1929, the company changed its name to Eugene Textilian Inc., which in 1952 became the Eugene, OR-based The Eugene Industrial Textile Co. The company was purchased by Eugene-headquartered The Eugene Board of Trade in the early 1970s.
The mill continued to produce textile goods until 1992, when the company moved its headquarters to a new location in a building in downtown Eugene.
The plant closed in 2007, and the Eugene factory closed in 2010.
The newly formed company will manufacture textile products for apparel, home goods, consumer goods and other consumer products, including those made in China, according a press statement from the Eugene Industrial Workers’ Union.
Eugene will also manufacture a new wall hanging to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Eugene International Textile Museum.
The museum was created in 1998 by the company’s founder, Eugene resident David W. Johnson, and is a “comprehensive, interdisciplinary collection of modern, contemporary and classic textiles,” according to the press release from the union.
Johnson and his wife, Barbara Johnson, also founded the Eugene International Sewing and Textile Mill.
They purchased the mill in 1994 and built it into a complex of three-story buildings in the 1980s, according the press statement.
The building was later demolished, and now the building houses the Eugene’s newly-opened Eugene Textiliink.
Eugene has been home to the Eugene Manufacturing Company since the mid-1940s, and was a textile mill until 1984, when it merged with The Eugene Manufacturing Co. to form The Eugene Mill.
The Mill moved its textile operations to the new Eugene Industrial Center in 1991, where it remains today.
The first building at the Eugene mill was completed in 1991 and became the new center for Eugene’s textile industry, according.
Eugene was one of the first cities in the country to have a textile museum in the late 1990s.
A new museum is now being built on the campus of The University of Oregon, which opened its doors in 1997.
“This is a tremendous moment for Eugene and the entire city,” said Mark Miller, the executive director of The Center for the Study of the Emergence of Art and Design at The University.
“We’re really excited to see this building become a part of this history and legacy of the Eugene textile industry.”