Art, Travel & History Denim

The Raw Renaissance – Part 2

Return to the future : Resurgence of raw denim

When talking about raw jeans, one often thinks about selvedge. But raw jeans do not necessarily have to be made from selvedge fabric. They can be made from various denims and are considered raw denim when they are sold without undergoing industrial washing or distressing. Selvedge denim is a type of denim fabric that is praised for the “self-edge” of the fabric which makes it more durable.

This fabric can only be made on old shuttle looms. These machines were used to produce denim fabric before modern projectile machines took over in the 1950s. When the U.S. mills started to focus on producing more denim at a faster rate, shuttle looms became obsolete since they were slower and produced less fabric. Legend has it that they were sent overseas to aid in rehabilitating the Japanese textile industry post-war.

raw denim

Interestingly enough Japan is considered as one of the world leaders in producing the best quality selvedge fabric today because they were able to maintain the use of their shuttle looms. In the United States, Cone Mills White Oak in North Carolina is the only mill left that produces selvedge denim using old shuttle looms.

Most raw jeans are made of 100% cotton denim but there are stretch raw denim which are usually composed of 98-99% cotton and 1-2% elastane. These kinds of jeans will still fade like pure cotton denim since the minimal amount of elastane will not affect the indigo particles from separating with the cotton fibers when chafing.

raw denim

The main difference between the two lies in how the fabric feels. Pure cotton denim is usually associated with being crisp, starchy and rigid. Jeans of this kind usually take a week or more to loosen up and feel less restrictive. On the other hand cotton-mix denim is more pliable and forgiving when first worn. However a drawback that some people have mentioned is its susceptibility to become too “stretchy”.

In the end, it depends on personal preference whether you prefer your raw denim to be stiff and gradually relax over time or have your raw jeans be supple straight out of the box. Note also that cotton mix denim is not limited to elastane but other materials as well such as wool, silk, cashmere and Kevlar for the more adventurous souls.

raw denim

Raw jeans are currently considered as a premium product and that reflects in the price point that they are sold at. Since most raw jeans are made from selvedge fabric and selvedge is rare and difficult to produce, this drives the price up. There has also been an increase in demand for jeans to return back to the basics. It seems consumers have tired of the over washed, over embellished kinds of denim and have been eager to get their hands on classic looking jeans.

A new generation is discovering the beauty of raw denim and Jeanuine is proud to feature raw and selvedge custom denim jeans.

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