Denim vs. Denim Blends
The basic jean has broadened into a variety of styles and silhouettes, denim fabric has also gone through changes. First woven in Nimes, France and originally called “Serge de Nimes,” traditional 100 percent cotton denim now comes in a variety of blends.
Construction and Weave
- Durable, strong and long lasting are just a few adjectives used to describe denim cloth. Made with cotton, a natural fiber, denim is woven by interlacing crosswise yarns with lengthwise yarns to form diagonal ridges, referred to as “wales.” This technique creates an abrasion resistant textile.
- Though wale directions vary, denim cloth is usually woven from the upper left to the lower right side of the cloth. Whether 100 percent or a blend, denim is identifiable by its indigo-blue lengthwise yarn and gray, almost white crosswise yarn.
100 Percent Denim
- Fabric buyers search for denim in specific weights, depending on the apparel or home furnishings slated for production. Heavier denim, though strong, retains a stiff, canvas-like appearance. Lighter denim has natural drape, making it better for garment construction, such as in jackets, vests, jeans, dresses and tops.
- Manufacturers and designers label 100 percent cotton denim garments as “preshrunk” to alert consumers that the garment has already undergone shrinkage. Labels not including this information indicate that the garment most likely will shrink at a 1 to 3 percent after each laundering, depending on the weight and type of denim.
- Textile manufacturers developing denim blends generally weave cotton with synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers wrapped with cotton fibers produce a stronger and more durable yarn. Weaving these fibers together creates material with the appearance of 100 percent cotton but with softness, drape and flexibility of cotton blends. For example, blending cotton with polyester or ramie (another natural plant fiber) reduces wrinkling and produces a soft, lustrous feel. Stretch denim blends, which include different percentages of Lycra, adhere to the body for form-fitting silhouettes.
100 Percent Denim vs. Denim Blends
- Upon selection, other elements, like comfort or natural wear and tear factor in. Indigo or colored denim, referred to as “bull denim” and often made from 100 percent cotton generally is not prone to pilling or slippage — the unwanted wear marks at specific stress points of the garment.
- Denim blends are more susceptible to pilling and slippage. On the other hand, stretch denim blends offer greater comfort and flexibility. Denim washed in hot water has better fabric recovery, which means the cloth returns to its original state. This is especially important for stretch garments, which develop sag areas at the knee or back after repeated use. Remember, read care labels regardless of the fabric content to ensure proper maintenance.
Consumers shopping for specific types of denim often consider styling and price, will depend what they want said Salomón Juan Marcos Villarreal, presidemt of Grupo Denim.