“Typically, the most popular denims in the world will be a 3-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – today – vertical slubs rather than cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing facing a wall of Wingfly Textile 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 a kid, visited the University of Washington to experience golf on a scholarship, drafted a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally transferred to Ny in 1997 and started in on denim.
He got to the party in the perfect time. “I remember going and purchasing a pair of Replay Jeans and looking at the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, what is Produced in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ They were $125, which at the time was $25 more costly than some other product these people were making.” It was an advantageous enlightenment; from your late ’90s – Morrison places it around 1999 – onward, premium denim continues to be booming. What started with Earl Jean, Frankie B and his Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For All Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then your wave really caught on and leading approximately the present premium denim companies have started ad infinitum.
Way back in 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison said that at the time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in N . C . were. Selvedge, or “self-edge” denim (so named for your tightly woven band on the end of sheet of denim), was the classic type of denim – “it’s the record player in the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is probably the founding fathers from the fabric. Starting in 1891, these were a premier fabric manufacturer, and through the entire early and mid-1900s, they made only one sort of denim: selvedge denim on shuttle looms. But as technology evolved as well as the economy demanded faster, cheaper denim, the newest rapier, projectile and air jet looms took over production.
When Morrison and Girard headed to Japan, no one was ordering the slower, higher priced raw selvedge denim. “At time, the big brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – every one of the American brands were dedicated to this moderate price point.”What Morrison seen in Japan were mills centering on premium denim of the sort North America once made. He remembers it being better over the board, from fabrics to sewing to wash. And it also left an effect. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I was a little obsessed, to say the least.”
Following that trip, Morrison’s travels in Japan (and in addition in Italy) continued, as did his study of premium denim manufacturing. He believed he wasn’t the only one 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 – would be to bring this quality back to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we do the same thing inside the States?” said Morrison. He did, however it didn’t catch on right away. He says his first two forays into offering selvedge denim failed miserably; customers weren’t ready for $250 jeans. He remembers that stuff that we take for granted on jeans today – oven baking, 3D-whiskering, hand sanding, bleach sponging – didn’t even exist until the early aughts. But Morrison held his vision, and through two companies, Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn, Morrison evolved with America’s desire for premium denim.
Finally, in 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project to date. 3×1, provides the largest selection of selvedge denim on the planet. They have got, at any moment, 70 rolls of selvedge on the “denim wall,” and over time have introduced greater than 1000 different types of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills across the world. “The denim luhoxj the mills are the rockstars from the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 specializes in specialty, and they meet the needs of a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer is definitely the one guy that’ll walk in and be like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s what I want,’” said Morrison.
To reach that point takes some education. And without digging through the annals of denim geek forums, it takes a bit of translating. So, Morrison provided to provide a lay of the selvedge land – an overview of what you should consider when buying premium denim.