“Our history is us. It’s our people, and what we’ve done,” says Briant Jr., the third generation of Stringham to operate Utah Woolen Mills. ”This is a family history, not the history of old buildings, machinery, or a mill.”
Located in a building that the City Creek Center was literally built around, Utah Woolen Mills is a historical waypoint for local culture and a sign of the times in the world of cutting-edge, high-end fashion—quite the dichotomy.
Each Stringham successor—great-grandfather Henry, grandfather Briant, Jr., father Bart, sons B.J. and Brandon—has left or continues to build upon the 110-year reputation of excellence. This is a story sewn of five generations of diligent work.
Hung throughout the store are windows into Utah Woolen Mills’ past: black & white photographs taken when the company was an actual mill and textile manufacturer that tailored custom-fitted suits. There are pictures of the master tailors who worked for the company—today, there is one in full-time employment on site—and the army of well-dressed traveling salesmen who hawked the wares around the country.
The juxtaposition of the historical images and the modern men’s wear speaks the company’s evolution while in business.
Utah Woolen Mills was founded by the Lloyd family in 1905, and Henry Stringham and his son Briant Sr. began to buy in during early ‘20s. Briant Jr. bought Utah Woolen Mills outright in 1974, and it continues to run as a family business.
Indeed, the vision of Utah Woolen Mills is different—much different—than when it was founded. Despite the misleading name, Utah Woolen Mills has long since stopped the manufacture of finely-woven woolen goods.
The current brick & mortar store sits a mere 70 feet from the original mill. What was once a massive institution is now a small, world-class specialty retailer both men and women’s fashion.
“We want to be known for carrying the most premiere clothing in Utah, and the country,” says B.J. Stringham.
The lease for Utah Woolen Mill’s store has been signed for another eight decades. Potentially, several more generations of Stringhams to come will add to this legacy.
For more information, drop in the store located at 59 South Temple, Salt Lake City, or visit the Utah Woolen Mills website.
Photographer’s note: The photos were originally commissioned for Salt Lake Magazine, and an expanded version of the story can be found in the Dec. 2015 issue, on newsstands now.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.