Coats and Clark has a long and storied history as one of the major thread manufacturers in the United States. Founded in the 1800s, Coats and Clark was known for producing high quality sewing thread and other sewing notions like zippers, pins, and needles. While the company has changed over the decades, Coats and Clark thread is still being produced today.
Yes, Coats and Clark does still make sewing thread under their Coats and Clark brand. The company has been acquired and merged with other brands over the years, but continues to manufacture thread for both home sewing enthusiasts and industrial uses.
The History of Coats and Clark Thread
Coats and Clark has its origins in two separate companies – J&P Coats and Clark Thread Company.
J&P Coats was founded in England in the 1750s by James Coats. The company specialized in sewing thread and expanded textile manufacturing over the next 150 years. In 1890, James Coats established an American branch of the company called J&P Coats USA in Rhode Island.
The Clark Thread Company was founded in Newark, New Jersey in 1866 by George A. Clark. His company focused on producing high quality spools of thread for home and industrial sewing. In 1896, Clark Thread opened their large Clark Thread Mill complex in Newark.
In 1898, the two companies merged together to form J&P Coats, Clark & Co. The newly combined company produced a variety of threads, from cotton to silk to synthetic fibers. Their thread was sold under the Coats and Clark brand name.
J&P Coats Clark & Co grew their manufacturing facilities and distribution reach in the early 1900s. They acquired several other thread producers over this time as well. Some of their major acquisitions include:
|Marshall Thread Company
|Chadwick’s Spool Cotton Company
|Dexter Cotton Mills
In the 1960s, the company shortened their name to Coats & Clark Inc. Around this time, they opened new manufacturing plants and went through a series of re-organizations and management changes. In 1967, Coats & Clark partnered with Tootal Threads Ltd, a major British thread producer. Tootal acquired Coats & Clark in 1976.
The Decline of US Manufacturing
Like many textile producers, Coats & Clark faced challenges due to the decline of US manufacturing in the 1970s-1990s. They were impacted by the rise of offshore production and the NAFTA trade agreement. A number of their US factories and mills closed down during this period.
In the late 1980s, Coats Viyella, the parent company of Coats & Clark, bought out the American Thread Company. This included the major Anchor, Autoco, Huxford, and Talon brands. Even with this expansion, Coats & Clark continued to face pressure from foreign competition and cheaper labor costs overseas.
The remaining Clark Thread Mill in Newark closed in 2002, ending over 130 years of thread production at that historic facility. Coats & Clark has maintained some manufacturing presence in the US, but the majority of sewing thread sold under their brand is now made overseas.
Coats & Clark Today
Today, Coats & Clark thread is still a leading brand around the world. While no longer manufacturing in the US on a large scale, the company continues to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions.
In 2017, Coats & Clark released their Epic polyester thread line. This thread is engineered for high performance and durability on modern computer-controlled sewing machines. It demonstrates how the company is evolving with the sewing industry.
Coats & Clark also actively promotes sewing as a craft through their Make It Coats campaign. This encourages people to learn sewing skills and use Coats & Clark thread for their projects.
Some other key facts about the current Coats & Clark thread business:
- Manufacturing facilities in over 70 countries
- 6,500 global employees
- Used by both industrial and home sewing markets
- Wide range of thread types including polyester, cotton, nylon, metallic, and more
- Available through craft/sewing stores, direct sales, online retailers
Coats & Clark is now owned by Gujarat Coats, part of India-based Coats Group. Gujarat Coats produces thread in India and exports it worldwide under the Coats and Clark brand. This global reach has allowed Coats & Clark thread to remain competitive and available to today’s sewists.
Coats and Clark thread has been a sewing staple for over 150 years, despite many changes to the company and textile industry. While they no longer manufacture in the US, the brand lives on globally. Today, sewers can still purchase a variety of Coats and Clark thread types for their projects – continuing the tradition of this vintage brand into the 21st century.
From the small mills and factories of the founders, to offshore production, to high-tech specialized thread, Coats and Clark has evolved to remain a leader in sewing thread. Their rich history is intertwined with the story of sewing in America and around the world. Coats and Clark thread maintains a strong presence today as both sewers and industrial manufacturers rely on the quality and performance the brand is known for.
So for anyone wondering if you can still buy Coats and Clark thread – the answer is yes. Their thread is sold in stores worldwide and remains a trusted name in sewing. The Coats name has endured for over 250 years and will continue meeting the needs of sewists into the future.