David E. White
What You Need To Know About Raw Denim
Raw Japanese Denim
Raw Denim Jeans have the unique ability to conform to you, the wearer. As you wear your jeans, they will crease and mold to your body, fade at points of strain, and wear and tear according to how you live your life... making your jeans that much more personal and unique. Some denim enthusiasts wear their jeans for months (and sometimes years!) on end without washing in order to engrave their lifestyle into the jeans.
Selvedge Denim is made using vintage low-speed looms called shuttle looms. A small wooden shuttle containing the weft yarns weaves the fabric as it is “shuttled” back and forth along the loom. On each pass, the shuttle seals the edge of the fabric creating a “self edge”, earning the name selvedge denim. Shuttle looms are slower, narrower, and require the skill of master artisans to operate. The end result is a denim with a hand-woven feel that cannot be mass produced.
Rope Dying is the core reason why Japanese raw denim is so highly praised for its fading properties. The process is done on impressively tall machines that extend up to the 2nd floor of the factory. Warp yarns are suspended from the top of the machine and sent down to be dipped in a bath of indigo waiting below. After each dip, the yarn travels all the way back up, allowing the dye to oxidize and adhere to the cotton yarn. This process is repeated along the machine multiple times to obtain the desired shade of indigo. What’s key is that because the yarns continuously travel up and down this long machine, and are never simply left in a large vat, the dye does not completely saturate the core of the yarn. Instead, only the outer layer is dyed, and the core remains white.