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Denim quality

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by BGW, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. BGW

    BGW Senior member

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    Does anyone know how to measure denim quality? What are signs to look for, like thread count with cotton shirts?

    Perhaps the question is too nebulous... A listing of jeans companies that use the best denim in their products would be helpful as well.

    Fire away.
     
  2. hermes

    hermes Senior member

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    i think LA guy will be a good person to answer this

    i personally just like dark indigo raw denim
    i like to break in my jeans myself
    apc and helmut lang are best for this

    i know evisu allegedly makes their own denim on old hand looms using some old technique that i'm not qualified to even comment on but each loom is only able to produce enough denim for about 10-14 pair of jeans a day

    i think weight of the denim has something to do with it
     
  3. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

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    Paper Denim and Cloth are super super light weight. It's dual ringspun cotton (not sure exactly what this means, but probably has a lot to do with the weight), and the color seems to last for a long time.

    Diesels, the color really lasts up, they are a bit heavier weight and stiffer, but they soften up every time you wash them.

    I cant think of other jeans that I have of notable quality.
     
  4. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Okay, I'm not a textiles expert, but I love jeans, and here is my understanding of them.

    First of all, denim is a type of twill, which is what gives it the "diagonal" look to the fabric. 3x1Z is the common right hand weave, and means that a warp thread (the vertical, colored yarn is the warp yarn) goes over 3 weft (the horizontal, white yarn) threads, and under one, on the loom. The result is that the intersection moves to the right, and so on. Right hand twill (running left to right in a north easterly direction) (Z) is harder and harder wearing, because the weaving process compacts the threads composing the fabric, while left hand twill (S) (the same process, but in the opposite direction) is softer, for the opposite reason. Lighter denims can also be 2x1 - You see these in jean shirts, etc....

    Ringspun refers to the method by which the yarn woven into denim, is, well, spun. Denim can be made of either ringspun yarn open-ended yarn. Honestly, I'm not sure exactly how they differ in manufacture, but ringspun yarns are stronger, but less even, thus the texture on the majority of "designer" jeans.

    The weight of the denim refers to the weight per square yard. I've never actually tested this. Fancy jeans like the pair of Paper Denims I have on are usually 12 ounces or so, up to about 14 ounces and down to about 10 ounces (I call those girly man jeans.)

    A lot of Japanese (and more recently, fancy American companies) boast "selvedge" on their jeans. The selvedge refers to the fabric at the edge of the loom. Vintage looms were considerable less wide than modern looms, which means more selvedge, and also slower production. I wear out my jeans in no time flat, and have never had to test the durability of selvedge.

    I've been told that the quality of the jeans depends primarily on the yarn used. A denim of similar weight of finer and better yarn dyes more easily, feels softer and more durable. For durability, I guess that you would choose the heaviest denim made from very well carded and combed, relatively fine, ringspun yarn.

    There are lots of other considerations, but for pure toughness, I find that heavy weight Diesel jeans take the cake by far.

    Okay, I hope I got that right. Shouldn't Shirtmaven and others in the business have a better understanding of this than I?
     
  5. dmckean44

    dmckean44 New Member

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    I like Diesel too, but at $179/pr, I'll never be able to afford more than two pairs of them. But I have to say if any of my jeans are going to stand the test of time, its these.

    Lucky Jeans are pretty nice, but not worth the price tag. If you can find a pair at a Norstrom's Rack for $30-$40 that you like then go for it.

    Brands like PDC and Seven are just pure crap. Yeah they're cool styles but they don't last any longer than the Express rip offs of the same jean.

    I think a better strategy is to buy more budget denim that you know will wear out in 6 months and then you can just throw them away and buy new.

    Express jeans can often be had for $20/pr or less on sale.

    Arizona Jeans at JCPenny can often be had for $15 a pair on sale and they have some really cool vintage styles.

    Gap Jeans can also be had uner $20 on sale. I personally have found GAP jeans to be TOO cheap. Everytime I've bought a pair, I'll accidently pull of a belt loop on the side. Same thing with with A&F/Hollister jeans.

    Levi's have gone down in quality yet again. And it's weird how most Department stores will carry 501s and 505s and silver tab stuff, but not the straight leg and the boot cuts which are actually in fashion right now. And I can't believe they'd further soil their brand by offering inferior quality versions of their jeans at Walmart and Target.

    I love jeans though. I wear them everywear. I really only feel confortable in jeans or vintage cotton or wool officer twills.
     
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I think that you're sort of missing the point. Like I posted, if you your main criterion is sturdiness, than you should probably get a pair of 17 ounce Carhatts (incidentally, also pretty cool) that are going to be a lot cheaper than PaperDenims, Seven, etc... to boot. But you're not going to get the same cuts, finishes, etc...

    I have to say that the stitching on the back pocket is a really important aesthetic concern for me. Either it should be something iconic (the Levi's Arcuate or the Calvin Klein Omega), or crisp and minimalistic (PaperDenim's J-stitch. The alternative is to have nothing at all (Helmut Lang). I absolutely refuse to buy BDg and Express jeans because of the awful back pocket stitching. It just shows a lack of attention to detail.
     
  7. BGW

    BGW Senior member

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    Thanks to all, especially LAGuy.

    I have to concur with everyone's opinion regarding diesel. The price is reasonable if you purchase over ebay. Although it can be hard if you are looking for a particular model.

    I wonder if a tailor could put pocket details on for you? I would imagine it to be a pretty simple process. I too favor minimalism, but might like to go over the top with a pair.

    If yarn quality is the big difference, how do you tell the quality of yarn used short of wearing the jeans for six months?
     
  8. TimelessRider

    TimelessRider Senior member

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    I glad to hear that Diesel uses quality fabric. I've been happy with mine so far.
     
  9. nukular

    nukular Member

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    I just can't agree with you on this. Seven's I personally think are too damn effeminate looking for my tastes, but I am completely addicted to the comfort and durability of my PDC's. I've worn them a lot and they seem to just get better and better.

    Of course Levis will always hold a special place in my closet. As the good ones really do seem to last forever. In fact I think my next jeans purchase is going to be a custom pair of Levis lowrider bootcuts in a dark denim. The local Levis store here in Chicago offers that service.
     
  10. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

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    While I do appreciate the quality and fit for price ratio of Levi's, I just can't buy from a company consciously knowing that they moved all of their factories overseas, but still keep their management and marketing in the country.
     
  11. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    How do you think that they're keep their prices (relatively) low? I suspect that if they want to get keep their high end market share, however, that they will either bring back a few special factories just to make the Red, Vintage and Premium lines, or will end up outsourcing these to Japanese or Italian companies. Let's face it, you can't expect to be able to buy $27 orange tab jeans from Kmart and expect them to be Union made in the states.
     
  12. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

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    I know that's how they keep their prices low. I don't own any Levis, except for a pair I got from a vintage clothing store. I know my one-man protest isn't going to change the world, but I feel much more comfortable owning as much clothing as possible from companies that don't manufacture their items outside their country of operation.
     
  13. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Hey, no worries. That's how I justify my Costume National and Paul Smith habits. But what about my Jil Sander and Helmut Lang? Well, I guess Prada owns them.
     

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