Sorry Brian, but I've got to agree with all of ringring's points here, especially the highlighted part at the end of the quote (my highlighting). There is really nothing particularly special about ringspun yarn compared to open ended yarn, for the most part. What makes denim durable has much more to do with the quality of the fibers used to make the yarn.
My friggin' 5EPs and Nudies are so damn expensive primarily because the market can bear it. A one rinse wash is a $1 wash. Any laundry can do it. And yes, in some cases, the good repros are probably better than the originals... But in general, increased cost due to limited production, and more importantly, because idiots like ourselves are willing to pay the prices, are what make a pair of Nudie jeans $265 or $399 (I think that's the current price for the Veggie indigo RRs, right?
Edited: Brian corrected my stupid mistake in the next post already
Originally Posted by ringring
"What I was referring to in usage of vintage machinery, etc. is that as time goes by, a lot of the old traditions that are there to hold up the jeans and keep them the hard wearing, colorfast workwear that they are, were set aside to lower production costs."
Inefficiency, doesn't always equate to high quality. Anyway, unless one has been privvy to both old and new ways of making denim, or exposed to a lot of vintage and new denim, then it's hard to judge one above the other. You'd have to be pretty old for a start.
For example, even if you were familiar with denim production during the 50s, you'd have to be in your 70's now to be able to compare it with modern mills.
"If they had open-ended denim in the early 1900s, do you think people would buy jeans? I would not think so.. they'd fray and rip in a week down in the mineshafts."
I think you're underestimating Open End denim. When it was at it's peak, people were still buying it as workwear. I've seen many OE jeans that have been worn and washed every week for years (like 10 years), and have seen many expensive, modern ring-ring jeans that have holes after 6 months of wear (nowhere near a mineshaft either).
Besides, OE is still a part of denim history and the evolution of jeans. I know an elderly gentleman, who I would consider a true denim expert, who told me that OE machinery should be preserved, in time, he speculated it may come back, just as selvedge has.
"referring to selvage jeans, it is more labor intensive to sew selvage jeans because it requires that the denim be cut on the edge and in a straight line, making quality control more difficult. "
No it's not more labour intensive at all, and has no effect on QC. Selvedge was made in those narrow widths because it was simply the must efficient use of fabric for mens jeans. You laid the legs at the selvedge sides and the waistband and pockets in the middle of the fabric. Not much wastage.
However, denim isn't only about straight legged pants these days - so what is effecient in terms of pattern laying for straight-leg jeans, isn't for skirts, flares and the plethora of denim styles on the modern market.
"However, comparing the common jeans (Lee, Levi's Wrangler) from the earlier days with the same common jeans of modern times, would you not think that production standards have been seriously lowered? Why else would stitch-for-stitch reproductions of the classics cost upwards of $150?"
Well many don't cost that much (Uniqlo), and the price that people are prepared to pay retail, does not necessarily reflect the actual cost of the jeans.
Some of the good repros cost a lot due to:
Small quantities made, both in terms of fabric and the actual jeans - nowhere on the scale of Levi's & Lee etc.
People are prepared to pay more.
Some may really be far better quality than vintage jeans (eg. I seriously doubt old Levi's were dipped 24 times).
Cleaning up mills and laundries cost. Dumping dirty water into rivers cost nothing.
In previous eras, there may have been use of slave/child/abusive labour.