Cone Brings Back Pinto Denim


As part of our year-long 125 year anniversary celebration, Cone Denim has dug into its nostalgic archives, and boy are we having fun. One jewel we uncovered is the iconic Pinto Denim, first developed in 1969. So we thought it would be fun to bring it back for a limited time, complete with all the bleached streaks and character, but without the flood.


Above- The vintage ad that ran in Daily News Record reads: “PINTO WASH does what kids want denim to do… right away. New soft Pinto Wash feels supple and comfortable, looks already broken-in to that favorite bleached blue denim shade. A new special Cone technique makes all-cotton suede-like Pinto Wash denim just what kids have wanted for years… a sturdy brand new denim that looks and feels as good as last year’s jeans. And, the random bleaching makes every pair of Pinto Wash pants unique. Every kid can do his own thing.”


The story of the Pinto Denim is such a fun piece of Cone Denim’s history and reminiscent of what makes Cone such a denim visionary. It speaks straight to the innovation, creativity, and perseverance that have been such cornerstones of the Cone legacy to this day.


For those that are not aware of the story of the first Pinto Denims, here it is. On June 15, 1969, Greensboro was hit with the most rain since Hurricane Hazel went through the city 15 years prior. The Greensboro paper reported that Cone Mills was the industry hit hardest by the deluge with more than six inches falling in a 24-hour period. Machinery was damaged, all shifts were cancelled at the White Oak mill and a warehouse and the central power plant were flooded. As a result, millions of yards of denim stored in the warehouse were soaked with water, and high school students were hired to help wash and dry the fabric to keep it from mildewing.


To Cone officials, this seemed like a catastrophe. But a young denim merchandiser in Cone’s New York marketing group suggested that the White Oak mill run the fabric through a solution to randomly remove the dye and give the denim a faded, mottled appearance. An advertisement for the denim ran in the Daily News Record and over 50,000 designers, manufacturers and retailers rushed to place their orders. After the denim was made into garments, thousands of college campuses fell in love with it, and Pinto Denim became a rousing success.


Pinto Denim is available in both selvage and wide styles and all produced in our iconic White Oak mill. For those nostalgic denimheads eager to experience a bit of history, samples are available immediately but for a limited time.