NCTO Council: Fabric
A century ago, New England led American textile production. Skilled artisans crafted lasting, natural fiber goods in countless mills across the region. No firm eclipsed American Woolen Company. Founded in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1899, A.W.C. swiftly grew into the world’s largest wool manufacturer, operating over 60 mills and employing more than 40,000 people. Then synthetics and off-shoring decimated the industry. New England’s wealth of textile expertise was nearly lost amid the relics. But a single mill survived, preserving skill with natural fibers for another day.
In 2013, Jacob Harrison Long and a group of friends noticed markets shifting back toward sustainable goods. They envisioned a New England brand that could tap remaining local talent to produce natural fiber textiles close to home, further lowering the carbon footprint. They purchased the A.W.C. trademark and then found the company’s new base of operations—a three campus cluster of mills in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. Famed Italian luxury goods producer Loro Piana saved the Stafford site from ruin in 1988. The brand bought the mills and ran them for 26 years, investing considerable resources to maintain the structures, acquire new machinery, and expand capabilities. Loro Piana’s careful stewardship laid the groundwork for something unparalleled in North America today—a state-of-the-art natural fiber mill, weaving both rugged woolens and fine worsteds.
The A.W.C. team have continued to modernize, adding to the equipment array while recruiting young technicians to learn alongside our master craftspeople. In just five years, the new A.W.C. has grown tremendously. Clients include leading and emerging brands across apparel, interiors, and accessories, as well as the United States military. In coming years, our team will reinvest profits back into the site and the surrounding town of Stafford Springs. We invite you to join us on this journey, as we create a destination for modern New England textile design and craftsmanship.