An exploration of the resistant and comfortable material that is denim, with a round-up of some of the technical terms and specific labels used in the profession. A precious denim glossary tool for making your sourcing more efficient and better adapted to your needs.
The technical denim glossary, from A to Z
3/1 or Twill
A weave characterized by a diagonal that descends from left to right. Twill is the most common weave in denim and is also a sign of quality.
A term describing the quality of a denim cloth, usually raw with a 3/1 construction.
Heavy and strong denim fabric with a classic 3/1 construction.
A specific weave where the traditional diagonal of the twill is inversed and rises from left to right, creating a zigzag effect.
An easily recognizable weave thanks to its V-shaped pattern.
Warp and Weft
Construction between the vertical threads (warp) and horizontal threads (weft). In denim, the warp threads are strong and softer than the weft threads. In Denim, the warp threads have been dyed with indigo.
An industrial machine that allows horizontal (warp) and vertical (weft) threads to be woven.
The most widespread weave where the warp passes under then above the weft, alternately.
Selvedge or Selvage or Self-Edge
Designates the vertical edge of a denim twill, easily recognizable by the presence of a colored thread. It allows the fabric to maintain its shape.
Bast fiber increasingly widespread in denim blends. Hemp farming is less polluting than cotton farming and requires less irrigation.
A vegetable fiber from cotton plantations. We can now find many alternatives to traditional cotton: organic or recycled cotton.
Recycled cotton fibers generated from pre-worn products.
Recycled cotton fibers generated from offcuts and textile waste (threads and fabric) recovered during the various stages of production.
Core Spun Yarn or Polycore
A process that produces a stronger thread, where a base thread is twisted around a second thread.
A plant fiber used in blends with cotton for denim twill. Linen farming uses little fertilizer and does not need much irrigation.
The stiff parts of a thread that give roughness on the surface of a denim twill. These irregularities are recurrent when the denim is produced on a 28-inch shuttle loom.
Finishes and Dyeing
Term describing a damaged part of a pair of jeans, either due to natural wear and tear, or produced deliberately.
A finish that gives a worn aspect to denim, produced using an electric brush. This effect can also be produced by hand by a specialized craftsperson.
Cellulose enzyme wash
An eco-responsible washing method that produces lighter shades of blue.
A jean that has a worn, torn look that can be the result of intense wear or produced mechanically.
Process where the cotton threads are immerged in plant-based dyes. The longer the threads are immerged in the dyes, the more intense the color.
Distressed (similar to destroyed)
Wear and tear caused artificially in order to give the denim a vintage look.
Application of a layer of finish to the surface to give a lacquered, shiny appearance.
Living organisms used in dyes to set off the chemical process that mutes the indigo color. An eco-responsible process that removes the use of pumice stones and gives the denim strength.
A dyeing method directly used on finished products.
Name given to the dye typically used for coloring denim, made from the Indigofera Tinctoria plant. The natural properties of indigo guarantee a good color hold and progressive fading, as the pigment does not entirely penetrate the cotton fiber. These days, most of the indigo dyes are synthetic.
Eco-responsible process that can be used to remove color from the surface of the denim. This technique is mostly used to create patterns, washed looks, placed wear and tear or moustache creases.
A company that carries out all the finishing stages on a product: garment dye, laser, enzyme washing, etc.
A dyeing process where the threads are twisted into a rope and them immerged many times in a bath of natural indigo before being exposed to the open air. The longer the threads bathe in the dye, the deeper the resulting color will be.
Process applied to each garment to remove all the products used during the finishing stages.
Application of a dye on a finished product when the twill had already been dyed previously.
Colors made from vegetables, fruits, plants or minerals. The colors thus produced tend to be shades of red, orange, green, blue, brown and grey.
Shapes and Accessories
Designates the shape, the line and the cut of the finished product. In denim, we often talk about a regular fit, tight fit, skinny fit, loose fit, straight fit.
Paper label hanging from the finished product containing specific information about the product.
Leather label placed on the rear of a pair of jeans, near the waistband.
Rows of horizontal pleats, usually found at the crotch, knees and upper leg of jeans. They can be formed after intensive wear of a pair of jeans, or be made mechanically, notably using the laser technique.
Attached to the fabric or the finished product, the label provides specific information (composition, weight, country of origin, etc.).
Component generally made from metal (copper or brass) placed on the edges of pocket seams and on the back pockets.
To go deeper, check out our Leather Technical Glossary.