What is Denim?
A popular conception of the etymology of the word denim is that it is a contraction or derivative of the French term, serge de Nîmes. 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), from which the first denim trousers were made.
Fashion is today incomplete without denim. Denim comes in all forms, looks and washes to match with every dress. It would be difficult to believe that the same denim was originally employed in clothing for the pants and overalls worn by miners on the west coast (US). A number of technological factors have contributed to making denim the fashion icon that it is today – including vast improvements in spinning, weaving, finishing etc.
Types of Denim
While the original denim was a 100% cotton serge material, you can now get it in a variety of materials, including blends that give you the same wonderful look of 100% cotton denim with some great additional features. Denim’s unique look comes from he rich indigo blue in one shade or another woven together with white threads to give the “depth” that people associate with denim. Today, some denims no longer have indigo, but other colors with the white opposing threads, producing denims in a rainbow of shades.
Types of Denim are given below:
- Dry Denim
- Selvage Denim
- Stretch Denim
- Poly Denim
- Ramie Cotton Denim
1) Dry Denim
Dry or raw denim, as opposed to washed denim, is a denim fabric that is not washed after being dyed during its production. Most denim is washed after being crafted into an article of clothing in order to make it softer and to eliminate any shrinkage which could cause an item to not fit after the owner washes it. In addition to being washed, nondry denim is sometimes artificially “distressed” to achieve
a worn-in look. Much of the appeal of dry denim lies in the fact that with time the fabric will fade in a manner similar to factory distressed denim. With dry denim, however, such fading is affected by the body of the person who wears the jeans and the activities of their daily life. This creates what many enthusiasts feel to be a more natural, unique look than pre- distressed denim. To facilitate the natural distressing process, some wearers of dry denim will often abstain from washing their jeans for more than six months though it is not a necessity for fading.
2) Selvage Denim
Selvage denim (also called selvedge denim) is a type of denim which forms a clean natural edge that does not unravel. It is commonly presented in the unwashed or raw state. Typically, the selvage edges will be located along the out seam of the pants, making it visible when cuffs are worn. Although selvage denim is not completely synonymous with unwashed denim, the presence of selvage typically implies that the denim used is a higher quality. The word “selvage” comes from the phrase “selfedge”
and denotes denim made on old-style shuttle looms. These looms weave fabric with one continuous cross thread (the weft) that is passed back and forth all the way down the length of the bolt. As the weft loops back into the edge of the denim it creates this “self-edge” or Selvage. Selvage is desirable
because the edge can’t fray like lower grade denims that have separate wefts which leave an open edge that must be stitched. Shuttle looming is a more time- consuming weaving process that produces denim of a tighter weave resulting in a heavier weight fabric that lasts. Shuttle looms weave a narrower piece of fabric, and thus a longer piece of fabric is required to make a pair of jeans (approximately 3 yards). To maximize yield, traditional jean makers use the fabric all the way to the selvage edge. When the cuff is turned up the two selvage edges, where the denim is sewn together, can be seen.
3) Stretch Denim
It is usually about 98% cotton and 2% Spandex for a bit of that forgiving stretch we all love. This blend gives you wonderful ease of movement and at the same time some support for those “trouble spots” you aren’t so fond of around the hips or thighs. Stretch denim jeans are one of the fastest growing segments of the women’s market for jeans manufacturers.
4) Poly Denim
It is the blends that appeal to those who like the look of denim but prefer polyester blends that wash and dry quickly and are lighter weight and a bit dressier. These usually appeal to a slightly older market, but are also finding favor for pantsuits, etc. when the look is meant to be “dressy but casual.”
5) Ramie Cotton Denim
It is the blends that are found in a variety of combinations, with a wide price variance. Ramie is a plant fiber usually added because it reduces wrinkling and adds a silky luster to the fabric. It isn’t as strong as cotton, however, so it has to be blended with this stronger material in order to stand up as a denim material.