June 13, 2022
Made In Bristol: The L.C. King Manufacturing Co. Story
Although Jack King has been running the show at L.C. King Manufacturing Co. for more than two decades, he still gets a kick out of standing behind someone at the grocery store and seeing them wearing an L.C. King original out and about in Bristol. “There’s no greater feeling than seeing the label on the clothes that they’re wearing, knowing it came from the corner of Seventh and Shelby,” he said. “That’s the gift back to me, knowing I had a part in the clothes that person has chosen to wear that day.”
Since 1913, four generations of the King family have grown L.C. King into a household name, known for designs that will withstand the test of time.
You’ll find a variety of styles in their lineup, from overalls for the harshest working conditions to vests for a night out, all made with L.C. King’s commitment to a quality garment. Each piece embodies the values characterized by the Bristol way—ruggedness, character, and style—crafted to last wherever the road takes you.
As the company’s CEO and a sewing machine operator, King guides his family’s legacy, staying true to their Bristol roots as the oldest operating business on the Tennessee side. “We’re totally committed to the customer and providing an American-made piece of clothing,” he said. Clothing comes from the same building where King’s great grandfather started the company.
Although he’s an accountant by trade, King has spent the last few years learning the ins and outs of the equipment they use. “I wanted to know what the men and women were experiencing on the sewing floor and what their issues were,” he said. “There’s no way to know that unless you are actually participating in the making of the clothing.”
On the manufacturing floor, you’ll find they’re still using the same sewing machines from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. “They just allow a better garment to be put together… and are still superior to making a quality garment,” King said. That’s dedication to the craft!
Another secret to L.C. King’s continued success? The longevity of its skilled employee base. King estimates the average employee has worked 33 years for the company. Long-time employees help train new hires on the old machines, ensuring everyone knows how to sew each piece of clothing to the highest standards rather than throwing everything together.
Building on a century of work within the community, King is excited to see L.C. King experimenting with new fabric types. They are currently designing a series around Japanese Wabash, a printed denim fabric that originated in West Virginia during the 30s.
While styles may come and go, quality clothing is simply timeless. It feels even better when you know the person who stitched every seam together. “It’s important to be a continued source of clothing that’s made in Bristol,” King said. “That’s it in a nutshell.”
Discover what makes places like L.C. King Manufacturing Co. the fabric of our community. To learn more about the Made In Bristol program and all the fun and exciting things to do in our city, visit DiscoverBristol.org. Happy travels!