Friday, January 23, 2009


I am starting a new thread that will be updated periodically here on our website, in hopes of explaining what is often seen as the confusing world of Denim. Hopefully this will help with such issues as care and fit guidelines.

First, a brief history of denim trousers.

The word denim comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called serge, originally made in Nîmes, France, by the Andre family. Originally called serge de Nîmes, the name was soon shortened to denim. Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue "jeans," though "jean" then denoted a different, lighter cotton textile; the contemporary use of jean comes from the French word for Genoa, Italy (Gênes), where the first denim trousers were made.

The initial yarn is dipped in an indigo bath which turns the rope yarn yellow. Once it is removed and the dye oxidizes, it turns the classic blue color we associate with dry denim. I will elaborate on dry denim later on. There are several ways to dye the yarn used in denim jeans. a couple of terms will help in the explanation.

There are two components in the weave of denim fabric. the weft and the warp. It is the combination of the indigo dyed warp and the white weft that produces the traditional appearance of denim. Many other combinations are possible by changing the ratio of warp vs weft or dying the weft a complementary color.

The other fundamental difference among denim jeans is the wash process or lack thereof. A large majority of denim producers wash their jeans and subject them to abrasive treatments to produce an artificial wear pattern. Several Purist labels such as Nudie, APC, or even select divisions of Levi Strauss like LVC leave the denim unwashed. This is the raw denim as referred to here at Mode.

Raw vs Washed

I hope this was informative. I am trying to cover the basics before i delve into specifics of selvedge denim, right vs left hand weave, and other manufacturing techniques. All that is to come. -Benjamin

No comments: