Everything you need to know about Denim; types, fit and styles

Difference between Denim and Jeans?

It's like Flour and Bread 🙂 Denim is the fabric which jeans are made of.

Before there were ripped jeans, believe or not there were not ripped ones, and that's just the beginning. Known as the casual of the casual fabric, today available as jackets, shirts, pants and more, jeans have become at an insanely fast pace the everyday staple we can't escape or live without. Jeans popularity may come from the fact it can be produced to fit any budget, whether it is much or not.

The 2001 American Music Awards may have graced us with the most memorable denim outfit of all times when Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake both wore denim from head to toe. The iconic moment took place in what was probably the most relevant denim moment there was in this century, and since then, denim have been becoming mostly synonym of pants with the occasional come back as jacket piece trend.

None the less, jeans are to this day one of the only items of clothing to reach every demographic. Keep reading this article to immerse yourself in the fabulous world of denim history, differences and how to shop for the most flattering one.



What Is Denim?

The material itself is made of a resistant thick twill's warp-facing. If you look at it closely you will get the idea behind the production that consists basically of passing cross-wired threads of yarn under the warped threads. In denim's fabrication, the only threads dyed are the warped ones, the cross-wired one are left white giving it its known colored aspect difference between denim clothes on the inside (mostly white) and on the outside (mostly colorful). This method is known as the "Indigo Dyeing Process" and it is what gives jeans fading capabilities, diversifying it from most other fabrics.



The History of Denim

Denim was originally designed in the 1800's by a Swiss banker called Jean-Gabriel Eynard who was the one in charge of dressing the Massena's troops who were arriving at Genoa. His first creation was a pair of blue jeans called "Bleu de Genes", made with a fabric closer looking to corduroy cotton than today’s denim, as this was the main fabric his town at the time. Once it got known by the people in Nimes, they tried to copy it but ended up creating a similar looking product they named denim. At its creation time, it became a hit between the working class of France and Italy, until a higher quality improved version was produced and hit the higher-class costumers.

The product didn't hit the USA market until the German Levi Strauss moved to San Francisco, after 2 years working with his family at a dry good business in NYC, and realized the market opportunity there, which led to the opening of the first Levi Strauss & Co. Wholesale House, at first to sell high-quality fabric to tailors, much like his brothers. It wasn't until one of his customers, Jacob Davis, talked Strauss into partnering with him in a new company to create products to the workers working to build the San Francisco skyline that the Levi jeans were invented.

To start the collaboration, Strauss patented a model, which was used to the creation of many pants made by the duo in their quest to find the best working fabric to suit it. After trying every fabric at Strauss store, they decided denim to be the best option for working pants, able to sustain rivets at all stress points of the product which was then marketed to contractors. The first Levi "waist overalls" for sale was made in 1873. The product wasn't called jeans until 1960's and was working clothes, until the release of the movie "Rebel without a cause", back in the 50's when James Dean character wore the famous blue loose pair.

As a direct response to James Dean wearing such item, the youth became very fond of it, becoming a popular trend after the movie release, but just as fast as it became a trend, the trend got banned from places like restaurants and schools until the 60's "flower power movement" started. By the 80's most manufacturers already produced their own version of the product.

The first washed effect jeans were created by Limbo, an NYC manufacturer, to give a worn-in effect to the product. The same manufacturer was also the first to sell patched ones and ripped jeans. In the 80's, a Canadian created the stone-wash method. In the 90's the item began to be used as a casual attire at offices which still is nowadays (most fridays in corporate America).

Merits of denim

  1. Denim fabric creases easily.
  2. It is very strong and durable.
  3. Provides warmth during cold weather.
  4. Lasts for years when handled properly.
  5. Resistant to tears and snags.



Cut and Fit

When it comes to jeans, the cut and fit is basically what gives the item its shape. A man must always choose looser formats for work situations (if your workplace allows such a casual piece). When it comes to social situations, a man finds his freedom to follow the latest trends in the market, but it is important to find within the trends a fitting that works with your body. In the end, it all comes to personal preference and your ideal fit.

To find your ideal fit, you must keep track of both waistband placement and leg cut. The first is the location the waistband sits while you are wearing it, nowadays the most usual is mid-rise jeans, which stays at the waistline, seen as high-rise ones are vintage and low-rise are mostly hard to wear, the natural position of the mid-rise seems to work for most body types, flattering its users. The second is as talked about as jeans colors, and just as perceived. The cut of the jeans leg happens to have a lot of variety, the most used currently being:


1.    Skinny jeans

Preferable to men with slim to medium thigh size, this type of jeans seem to be the favorite of the decade. This style fit is tight from the top to the bottom of the leg making your natural shape shine.


2.    Straight jeans

This cut is a classic that works best for men with bigger thighs, having the same size from top to bottom. When shopping for it keep in mind it should hug your upper thigh and follow the same sizing to the bottom.


3.    Slim cut jeans

Looser than the skinny jeans and tighter than the straight ones this cut is a great in between, closer to the skinny side of the scale. This cut starts a little loose at the upper leg and gets tighter on its way down.



4.    Tapered jeans

These jeans are the in-between of the slim cut and straight cut. The best shape for people with bigger thighs that wish to look stylish, as the cut is like the skinny ones.


5.    Bootcut jeans

This kind of jeans are tight in the upper thighs and gets looser once past the knees, making it basically this century usable bell bottoms. This look works for most body shapes and is a particularly clever idea if you have bigger calves and have a tough time finding a style of jeans that don't over accentuate it.

When it comes to length keep in mind you can never go wrong with the classic one, as it is the most proportional one to date.


Color and Wash

When it comes to color you can find denim in every single color there is but remember a few of them get very limited use, unlike the classic blue jeans which are appropriate to every situation jeans are appropriate. The wash is also an important thing to consider when it comes to the final jeans color as not only it fades its original color but also can age the pants fast. Levi's CEO advises people to never wash their jeans to keep it as good as new, but as a dapper man, this idea just sounds repulsive.


Types of Fades

Every jeans color will eventually fade with every wash, it's the natural thing to happen, but a few companies have taken it upon themselves to fade jeans from the factory to give it a more expressive look and try to have control over how the jeans will wash out. To do so, they find vintage jeans and analyze its fading and try to recreate it in their factory. A few of the fading being replicated include:


1.    Honeycomb Fade

The natural knee fading usually from used jeans are now also factory made to give the item a broke in aesthetic.


2.    Train Tracks Fading

Before being made at factories, this type of fading only happened after a lot of use, mostly due to the pressure the legs inside the jeans make on the outseam.


3.    Whiskering fades

Also known as hige, these are the fading lines created from creases formed in the front pocket area of jeans.


If you are looking to purchase long lasting jeans, choose one with the least fades as possible as not only it will go out of style quickly, as every trend always do, but it will also become sloppy looking much more quickly.


The Different Types of Denim Material

Believe it or not, there isn't just one kind of denim, they may all look similar but there are several types of this fabric being produced due to high demands.

1.    Raw or Dry denim

Denim made from 100% organic cotton, meaning no mixture whatsoever. This is the normal denim which you can treat in many different ways to create the different styles. This fabric is very durable, hard wearing and versatile. This kind of denim isn't pre-washed before being sold, which means the way you use it and wash it will have a much bigger effect on how it fades. 


2. Sanforized Denim

This is denim fabric which is processed so that it does not shrink after being washed. Most of the denim which is not raw is Sanforized.


3. Selvedge denim 
The most expensive type of denim made from a continuous cross yard that creates an unraveled edge. This denim is known for long durability. 


4. Tretch denim 
The most wrinkle resistant type of denim, it's also the dressier one. This type of denim is used in the process of making casual wear, being also a lightweight type. 


5. Slub denim 
The rarest type of denim, also known as crosshatch, made with an uneven yard. 


6. Printed denim 
This type of denim usually has a pattern printed all over it which can be stripes or flowers.


7. Reverse denim 
The denim made to be reversible, in which both the outside and the inside are the same, so you can't easily say which one is which. 


8. Marble denim 
Also known as acid wash denim, due to the use of strong bleach in the production. 


9. Bull denim 
This type of denim is "as resistant as a bull", being both heavy and durable. 


10. Colored Denim 
This type of denim is a twill. Made by dyeing the weft or warp the desired color. Basically any color that is different from the traditional blue dye.


11. Crushed Denim 
Made with a fabric containing an overtwist yarn at the weft giving it a permanent wrinkle look. Be careful when buying this type as it shrinks when washed.

12. Vintage Denim

For achieving old and worn outlook, a denim treatment that applies heavy stone wash or a cellulose enzyme wash with bleach or without bleach is called vintage denim.


How to look dapper in Jeans?

A classic look warrants darker and solid looking jeans. Might be slightly bleached or distressed but not shreded or crushed, as they are able to pull off a more elegant look. The inverse approach is recommended to achieve a casual look, perfect for going out with friends. Remeber, Denim as a garment fabric, whether in solid color or fade; whether raw or distressed; whether organic or bleached, remains a signature that never goes out of fashion!

What do you know about jeans that I missed in this article? Drop a comment


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