What is Denim ?

Mens denim jeans

Blue Denim Jeans

So, what is it?

Jeans? Shorts? Skirts? Jacket?

Well, technically NO. While all of above products are commonly referred to as denims, they are various products of denim, made from denim fabric. Denim in itself is a type textile or a fabric. It is made by weaving cotton or cotton blend yarn/threads in a way that it gives Denim its distinct diagonal pattern.

diagonal weave in denim

Diagonal Weave in Denim. Blue at Top. White in reverse

It is done so by passing one yarn/thread horizontally (known as ‘weft’) under one or more yarn/thread placed vertically (known as ‘warp’). While the warp yarn/thread is dyed in Indigo colour (Blue), the weft yarn/thread in left white. This is the reason why Denim is Blue on top and White on the inside.

This weaving process gives denim its much loved sturdiness. Since one yarn/thread passes through one or more yarn/thread forming a diagonal pattern, it creates a very strong bond.

Depending upon what colour has been used to dye Warp yarn/thread, the colour of denim fabric varies. Further the amount of Indigo used and the no. of times yarn/thread is dipped in Indigo Dye also decides how dark or light the colour of resulting denim fabric will be.

Since the core of Warp yarn/thread is white and dying affects mainly the outside, this results in the signature fading characteristics with every wash or with age.

Levi Strauss

Levi Strauss

A brief History of Denim:

The word ‘denim’ has been derived from the French word ‘Serge de Nimes’, a name given to fabric that originated from the city of Nimes. Denim fabric usage dates back to 17th century. In the 1800’s the need for long lasting durable fabric for mining and railway workers led to the origin of this fabric. Levi Strauss (businessman) and Jacob Davis (a tailor) came together to invent the denim pant, which were made from durable fabric and reinforced with rivets at high pressure points to further elongate its life. The original denim fabric was not made from cotton as it is done today. Back then, it was made from silk and wool. Today’s all cotton denims was first created in England and later perfected in American mills.

Next article: Types of Denim Weaves