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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert Sidney Smith, January 25, 1999. Interview I-0081. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Consolidation of hosiery business

The National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers reached its peak membership during World War II, Smith says, and it appears that the industry has declined since then, due to consolidation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert Sidney Smith, January 25, 1999. Interview I-0081. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: Worth mentioning any sort of ebbing and flowing to the membership level in the organization? [The membership] always has been, remains the principle industry trade group, obviously. Any substantial shifts of that sort? SS: I guess the peak activity of the Association -- as was probably true with a tremendous number of other industry groups -- was World War Two, because everything in this country went onto war production, including hosiery and socks. Nylon was taken away, so ladies' hosiery you had to go back to silk and cotton. Producing and operating under the War Board instructions, rules, regulations, it necessitated an organization that could be a conduit for information between the industry and government. They needed each other. The industry had to have a group they could turn to to say, “What does this mean? What do I have to do today for the war effort?” I would say that was probably the high water mark for the Association and for every association. Since my joining in 1972, which was my first introduction -- and I think probably from the high watermark of World War Two -- the trend line has been constantly one of fewer companies, consolidation in the industry. When I joined the industry in 1972, there were probably 600 companies in the business. Today there are 300. I would say if you look back to World War Two, there were 1100. So, it's been consolidation. Now at the same point in time, actual output production in units and sales and dollars has gone the other way. They've gone up. So, it is a consolidating into the hands of bigger groups and bigger organizations.