“Typically, the most popular denims on earth will probably be a 3-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – at this time – vertical slubs instead of cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing before a wall of selvedge denim factory in his SoHo store, 3×1. He had not been speaking in tongues; he was in brief the language of denim. Morrison grew up in Rancho Mirage, California, played golf as being a kid, went to the University of Washington to experience golf on a scholarship, drew up a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally moved to Ny in 1997 and began in on denim.
He came to the party at the perfect time. “I remember going and buying a set of Replay Jeans and exploring the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, what exactly is Produced in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ They were $125, which during the time was $25 more costly than every other product these were making.” This is an advantageous enlightenment; from the late ’90s – Morrison places it around 1999 – onward, premium denim continues to be booming. What started with Earl Jean, Frankie B and his awesome Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For Many Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then the wave really caught on and leading approximately the present premium denim companies have started ad infinitum.
Back in 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison said that at that time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in N . C . were still. Selvedge, or “self-edge” denim (so named for that tightly woven band on the end of sheet of denim), was the classic kind of denim – “it’s the record player of the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is probably the founding fathers of the fabric. Starting in 1891, they were a premier fabric manufacturer, and through the early and mid-1900s, they made only one type of denim: selvedge denim on shuttle looms. But as technology evolved and also the economy demanded faster, cheaper denim, the new rapier, projectile and air jet looms took over production.
When Morrison and Girard headed to Japan, no person was ordering the slower, more expensive selvedge denim manufacturer. “At enough time, the big brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – each of the American brands were dedicated to this moderate price point.”What Morrison seen in Japan were mills concentrating on premium denim in the sort North America once made. He remembers it being better over the board, from fabrics to sewing to wash. And it left an effect. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I used to be somewhat obsessed, as you would expect.”
Next trip, Morrison’s travels in Japan (as well as in Italy) continued, as did his study of premium denim manufacturing. He believed he wasn’t the only person who’d buy into this domestically born, internationally perfected practice. Morrison’s idea – shared by only a couple other premium denim companies during the time – ended up being to bring this quality returning to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we do exactly the same thing within the States?” said Morrison. He did, but it didn’t catch on straight away. He says his initial two forays into offering selvedge denim failed miserably; customers weren’t ready for $250 jeans. He remembers that things that we ignore on jeans today – oven baking, 3D-whiskering, hand sanding, bleach sponging – didn’t even exist up until the early aughts. But Morrison held his vision, and thru two companies, Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn, Morrison evolved with America’s interest in premium denim.
Finally, in 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project up to now. 3×1, supplies the largest collection of selvedge denim on the planet. They have got, at any moment, 70 rolls of selvedge denim wholesale on the “denim wall,” and over the years have introduced a lot more than 1000 various kinds of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills around the world. “The denim luhoxj the mills would be the rockstars from the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 focuses on specialty, and they also focus on a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer will be the one guy that’ll walk in and become like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s the things i want,’” said Morrison.
To get to that point takes a little bit of education. And without digging through the annals of denim geek forums, it will take some translating. So, Morrison provided to offer a lay of the selvedge land – an overview of what you should consider when purchasing premium denim.