A STORIED PAST
The profitable Minneapolis flour and lumber industries of the late nineteenth century have a tendency to overshadow its lesser-known textile industry, but in 1912 the Northwestern Knitting Company became the nation’s leading manufacturer of undergarments. Financially backed by two top millers, Clinton Morrison and Charles Pillsbury, the Northwestern Knitting Company operated under similar strategies of the flour giants: a focus on technological and imaginative innovation.
In 1888, the company’s founder, George Munsing, invented a method of plating woolen fibers with cotton to take the "itch" out of woolen underwear. The less bulky, single-piece undergarments patented in 1891 propelled NWKC to become the industry standard for both household and military use.
The Northwestern Knitting Company continued to thrive through the twentieth century, producing a number of diversified product lines until 1981 when a deteriorating national economy forced the factory in Minneapolis to close.