DENIM GLOSSARY



First time visiting us? Confused with all the esoteric denim lingo?

Well, we're here to help! Browse through our Glossary and begin scratching the surface of our little world of Japanese denim.


1. AIZOME


"Aizome" is the Japanese word for indigo dye. The first part of the word, "Ai" (藍) represents the color indigo, and "Zome" (染め) is the common term for dye.



2. CHAINSTITCHING


Chainstitching is a type of interlooping stitch which resembles the pattern of a chain and it is a technique developed by the ancient Chinese. Chainstitching is embraced by premium denim manufacturers in their craft.


Notable for the desired roping effect it yields over time. It is used on the hem of the leg opening of premium jeans for the durability factor as well as to avoid fraying.



3. CHAINSTITCH RUNOFF


Chainstitch runoff is a trail of chainstitched threads which can often be found hanging from the side seams of shirts. 


This is a detail that many brands retain in order to give garments a more vintage aesthetic. 


4. CROTCH BLOWOUT


Often caused by the friction of riding a motorcycle or bike (amongst other activities). With repeated agitation to the crotch area, the fabric can wither and eventually tear, forming a large opening as the yarns unravel.


This is commonly referred to as a Crotch Blowout.


5. FADES


Fades are lighter areas present in denim, which appear and turn brighter when the dye of the deep blue color of your jeans slowly wears off or is washed off. 


There are differents types of fading, such as Honeycomb, Whiskers and Train Tracks or Stacks. Atari (当たり) is a Japanese term describing to the most common fading located along side seams, front and back of knees, upper thighs, along the hem, belt loops and pocket seams.


6. GUSSET


A gusset is a piece of fabric that boosts the durability in a certain section of a garment. Most commonly found in shirts, gussets are typically located where the side seam meets the hem. 


Some brands add Selvedge to this section as a complimentary detail. 


7.KAKISHIBU


 Kakishibu (柿渋) is used as a natural dye for garments and it is made from juicing unripe persimmons.One of the charms of Natural Kakishibu dye is the variation of the final resulting hue of the garment. Factors such as the quality of the fruit, the fermentation method, dyeing season and even the weather all tie into the dyeing process of this garment. Kakishibu dye will react to UV rays and darken over time.


Producing Natural Kakishibu dye is a notoriously slow process which starts with the harvesting of the unripe fruit during the Summer. The extracted juices must then undergo a one-year fermentation and storage process, in order to remove impurities such as organic acids prior to being refined as a dye. 


8.NATURAL INDIGO DYE


Natural indigo dye is derived from the leaves of an indgo plant, which is then dried and left for composting in the initial stage, taking approximately one hundred days. This yields the dense dye compost the Japanese call sukumo. The sukumo is then added to a vat of warm water which already contains a mix of several ingredients including lime, and in some cases even sake.


Once the contents of the vat have fermented, the remaining foam may be used as a natural indigo dye. Natural indigo dye has been a part of Japanese textile culture for centuries. It came into particular prevalence during the Edo period because it was the best type of dye for use on cotton fiber at the time. It is sometimes referred to as "Blue Gold" amongst enthusiasts.



9.NEP


One interesting characteristic of neppy fabrics, is that the initial neppy fibers of the fabric become more pronounced over wear and washing, resulting in a fuzzy and hairy texture.


10. NÎMES


The French city that is most notable for it's textile production, including serge fabric. "Serge de Nîmes" (in english means Serge of Nîmes) is from where the word denim derives.

11. OKAYAMA DENIM


Many Japanese manufacturers of denim agree that the water in Okayama has a high mineral content coupled with favorable pH levels. This combination helps to produce high quality denim fabric, which also assists in the depth of color and resilience of the indigo dye.


Another factor would be the prevalence of factories using vintage shuttle looms to produce their denim fabric. Although the production of denim on shuttle looms yield much less fabric (about 40m a day) than the mass production of projectile looms, the quality of the selvedge fabric which the shuttle looms output is far superior than the modern projectile looms.


Japanese attention to detail during the production process is unrivaled. The brands we carry at Okayama Denim have very small scales of production, ensuring that each product is developed with tedious attention to detail.

The use of indigo dye is not new to textile production in Japan. Traditionally, Kimono fabric was also sometimes indigo dyed, and thus the technique of rope dyeing has been a part of textile production in Japan for centuries. 



12. RAW DENIM


Raw or Dry denim refers to denim fabric which has not undergone any treatment or coloring after the dyeing stage of production. As opposed to washed denim which features styled fading at the time of purchase. 

Raw denim is typically a dark indigo blue as a new product. The areas that a pair of jeans will show the most wear and fading include the ankles, behind the kneed, and upper thighs.


Often considered the most desirable aspect of Raw denim is the fact that the fade patterns and patina which develop over time, and will be unique to the body of the user and his/her daily activities. Raw denim will shrink approximately 1-2 inches around the waist after washing. While this will not affect the actual intensity of fade contrast.


In order to perfect the natural whiskers and honeycombs, the best way is to wear the same pair of jeans everyday for at least three to six months before washing.



13. RIVET


A rivet is a permanent metal fastner that is used as a reinforcement on the pocket corners of jeans. Originally patented by Russian-born tailor, Jacob Davis, with the financial support and backing of Levi Strauss and Company in 1873, rivets are found on almost all jeans today.


14. ROPE DYEING


The rope dyeing technique which is common in Okayama, creates a beautiful yarn. It is the physically enduring process of dyeing the cotton threads in indigo and then twisting the yarns together to mimic a rope.


Leaving the core of the yarns undyed, it is the understood guarantee that the finished denim garment will fade perfectly with age and time.


15. SANFORIZED / UNSANFORIZED DENIM


Sanforized denim is treated post-production and is mechanically pre-shrunk to ensure less shrinkage of the fabric after washing. This will eliminate the calculating and guessing process that often comes with buying Unsanforized denim.

On the other hand, unsanforized denim does not receive any treatment post-production and is sent directly for cutting and sewing into jeans, as loom state fabric. These jeans are prone to shrink 7- 10% with the first soak (variance can be greater even, and depends on fabric and soak process) and are preferred by hardcore enthusiasts due to the character and weave which tends to be much hairer and slubbier in nature.



16. SELVEDGE DENIM


Selvedge (or selvage) denim is produced on vintage shuttle looms, the way that denim was originally made for work-wear before it became a global fashion statement.

The fabric which is derived from a shuttle loom will have a clean, self- finished edge which will not fray or unravel.

It is more durable and of superior quality when compared to the output of any modern day projectile loom. This is because more time and effort is put into each meter of denim produced on a shuttle loom, the way garments used to be made before mass production biinded manufacturers. The lateral weave used to complete the Selvedge line comes in a variety of colors.


Selvedge denim has become the fabric of choice for premium jean producers around the world. A turned-up cuff reveals the clean, finished edges as two colored stripes running up the seam of the jeans. 

These stripes were most commonly red in color but today can be found in a range of colors and variations. In the early days of Japanese jeans, the stripe was used as an ID tag that distinguished the different denim fabric manufacturers in Okayama.


17. SERGE


Serge is a type of cotton twill created by a two stitch upward and downward pattern, resulting in a rough and rugged textile.

Serge, known for it's durability and longevity as a fabric, has been used in many countries for industrial workwear and military uniforms.


Denim is a derivation of this fabric.


18. SHUTTLE LOOM


Vintage shuttle looms produce a denim fabric, which among purists is considered to be of the best quality. The technique of fabric construction on a shuttle loom is very different, and on a much smaller scale, compared to the industrial projectile looms. 


Selvedge denim fabric produced on shuttle looms is of superior quality and will last a lifetime.


19. SLUB


Random thicker areas on the length of the yarn created during spinning, intentionally or untentionally, to give an uneven, hairy, rough, and bumpy texture in the denim.


20. TWILL


A Twill weave can be identified by its ribbing. The combination of a weft yarn running through the warp yarn creates a Twill. Denim most commonly comes in right hand twill, although left hand twill is also available in smaller amounts as only a number of seweing machines create left hand twill fabric. 


Even less common is broken twill denim which features a zig zag pattern weave, similar to Herringbone.


21. WARP


The set of yarns held in tension which run lenghtwise on a loom, are called warps. When looking at finished denim fabric, the warp end is the thread which runs along the fabric (parallel to the selvege line).


The warp thread is normally tougher than the weft thread as it is held in high tension,


22.WEFT


Weft is the thread/yarn which runs widthwise (from edge to edge) to hold the warp thread together. The weft yarn moves across the selvege denim from edge to edge through the warp yarn loops.


The reason selvege does not fray is because the weft threads are looped over and under the warp.


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