Vidalia Mills Co. CEO Dan Feibus is setting an example for business owners with Made in USA dreams.
When Dan Feibus started Vidalia Mills Co. in 2019, his aim wasn’t just to be a successful manufacturer of premium denim in the U.S. He wanted to set an example for the sector that Made in America denim can be a reality.
The company has invested $50 million in infrastructure and retrofitting its 900,000-square-foot manufacturing facility—a former Fruit of the Loom distribution center in Vidalia, La.—and is partnering with companies like Temsan and Lubrizol to create cutting-edge yarn and fabrics.
The mill exclusively uses BASF’s e3 cotton as part of its pledge to responsible sourcing and sustainable agriculture.
Vidalia Mills is also home to a piece of U.S. denim history. The facility has 40 selvedge denim weaving machines acquired from Cone Denim’s shuttered White Oak mill, and they’re back to producing American-made selvedge.
Contemporary brands with a passion for history like Imogene + Willie and Trinidad 3 are among the rst to produce jeans made with the fabric.
What will the denim industry be like in the next 18 months?
It’s going to go through a real shakeout. You have some structural overcapacity, partially fueled by an industry that has a lot of extra capacity chasing a limited number of orders. I think that with the net impact on retail from the Covid-19 crisis, I see a smaller industry coming out of it. It’s going to be a bit of a watershed.
What changes would you like to see in the denim industry as a result of Covid-19?
I would like to see the industry be able to achieve some pricing power back from brands and retailers, and I’d like to see real standards sought by consumers for sustainability and for accountability in the industry.
How do you define sustainability in a post-pandemic world?
You cannot make a claim of sustainability without the granular capacity to back it up. So, sustainability has to stop being part of the purview of marketing and has to become a technical, definable and provable claim.
Describe your dream jeans.
Anything made by Imogene & Willie, or Wrangler, or Levi’s.
What is your most worn pair of jeans, and why?
I have a really old pair of Levi’s that are just comfortable. They have holes in them, they go out on the farm with me and they’re certainly not fancy.
Name one word that best describes denim.