This Day in NC History: Hanes brand begins in Winston-Salem

On June 12, 1886, James G. Hanes, founder of Hanes knitwear, was born in what’s now Winston-Salem.

Following his 1909 graduation from the University of North Carolina , Hanes returned to Forsyth County and joined his father’s textile business, which was then burdened by a heavy debt. Hanes stewarded the company through a five-year recovery and renamed the business Hanes Hosiery Mills. He was rewarded for his diligent and skillful leadership by being elected president of the company in 1917.

Image from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art James Hanes

Image from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art
James Hanes

In the 1920s, Hanes was determined to shift the focus of the company from men’s hosiery to women’s garments and established the Hanes Dye & Finishing Company to bleach, dye and finish cotton products. By 1938, the company had grown to become the world’s largest producer of women’s seamless nylon hosiery.

In addition to his work with the family business, Hanes served on the board of directors for the Norfolk and Western Railway, the New York City-based Savoy Hotel and the Wachovia Bank and Trust Company. He also took an active role in local government, most notably serving for four years as mayor of Winston-Salem and for 22 years on Forsyth County’s Board of Commissioners.

He died in 1972.

Visit: Hanes’ home is now the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, open to visitors Tuesday through Sunday.

This Day in North Carolina History is a production of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources.

Filed in: Education, Latest Headlines

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