- Your News
By MARIAN GALBRAITH
Tullahoma Industries has taken another bold step to promote its new line of premium designer jeans, known as Grady Mac Denim, by partnering with The Black Lillies, an Independent Music Award-winning band from East Tennessee.
According to the band’s Website, the partnership “unites the Tullahoma-based denim company with the Knoxville-based Americana band to mutually promote and market each other through e-commerce, social media, retail, and live events.”
Despite the sluggish economy, the hometown producer of uniforms and other apparel for the U.S. Armed Forces continues to develop partnerships and other innovative methods to promote its “down-home,” made-in-the-U.S.A. products, as well as opening new product lines.
CEO Richard Davenport said in a recent press release that he was “thrilled” to have reached an agreement with The Black Lillies to help market and promote the company’s new premium denim jean line.
“The Black Lillies’ Americana style of music is the perfect compliment to our 100 percent American-made, handcrafted Tennessee premium jeans,” he said.
“Jeans and music just go together, and The Black Lillies represent all of the things we want our jeans to be known for – an Americana, classic, feel-good style.”
The band has been on the rise ever since its 2009 debut recording, “Whiskey Angel,” which appeared on multiple “Best of 2009” lists across the country and won the Independent Music Award for Best Americana Album.
In addition to touring the country, the band has performed at festivals including Bonnaroo and the CMA Fan Fare, and has appeared regularly on the Grand Ole Opry since June of last year.
Jamie Davenport, Richard’s son and Tullahoma Industries’ vice president, said the idea of partnering with the band came from the company’s marketing and public relations firm.
“Our marketing firm, CMOco, is also from Knoxville, and they thought the Black Lillies would be a good ‘fit,’ so to speak, for the Grady Mac Denim line,” Jamie said.
While Tullahoma Industries is best known as a primary provider of durable, high-quality uniforms and other attire for law enforcement and the U.S. Armed Forces, the company continues to evolve and grow by finding new markets where its high-end, “American-made” reputation can provide a competitive advantage.
Jamie said in previous interviews that their main reason for jumping into the premium-jean line was that, despite the recession, the premium jean market is still expanding, with prices ranging between $120 – $160, and the company felt that its quality, “home-made” reputation could be an advantage over other jean producers who manufacture overseas.
While the jeans are laundered or “post-washed” with various finishes by a company in Georgia, they are manufactured by the company’s Tullahoma-area employees, and the company seems to take as much pride in its southern heritage as it does in its “made in U.S.A.” label.
The line is named after Richard Davenport’s late father-in-law, Grady Mac Knight, who was allegedly known for his rugged, southern individualism as well as his patriotic support of the armed forces.
“Grady Mac Denim jeans are unique in several other ways, too,” Jamie said, “first, because of our trademarked fabric, called Bamblue denim, which is a cotton-bamboo blend.
“All of our jeans, both men’s and women’s, will have a slight stretch for comfort, and the infused bamboo provides natural anti-microbial properties, as well as softness and durability.”
Jamie said the jeans will be available online this fall as well as through specialty retail outlets, including a “company store” here in the historic Tullahoma Industries building at 401 NW Atlantic St.
“We had plenty of space right here in our building, which was built in 1901,” he said, “so we refinished the old hardwood floors and added supports for the roof and ceiling, so it should make a nice retail space.”
The retail area also features a shuttered window to the manufacturing area so that shoppers can watch the jeans being made.
Thanks to the partnership with Black Lillies, shoppers will also be able to listen to the music in the store as well as on-line at gradymac.com, and will be able to purchase the band’s music and learn about concerts and events.
“We also plan to partner with certain charities, like, possibly the Wounded Warrior program, with a certain amount of sales proceeds going to each charity,” Jamie said.
He added that the company has also “gone green” by recycling its scrap fabric to the carpeting and flooring industry, which uses it for padding and other purposes.
In addition to Grady Mac Denim jeans, Tullahoma Industries still produces a broad and evolving line of military and law enforcement apparel, as well as dabbling with other specialty apparel items, such as with Perky Jerky, a brand of “energizing” beef jerky.
“We made this Velcro outfit for the ‘Jerk Man’ to run marathons in,” Davenport said, referring to a large black suit covered with Velcro.
The Jerk Man, he explained, is a character who promotes the company’s product by appearing at various events in a Velcro suit covered with sample packages of the beef jerky, allowing passers-by to pull free sample packages directly off the suit.
“I had never heard of the Jerk Man or Perky Jerky until they contacted us and asked us to make this suit,” he said, “but we hope to have a marketing partnership with them also.”
For more information on Grady Mac Denim’s partnership with the Black Lillies, visit www.theblacklillies.com.
Marian Galbraith can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.