Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vintage (Denim vs T's)

OK - so yesterday's post seemed to irk a lot of people. I don't know if it was because the shirt can be purchased from Urban Outfitters, or if it was that people were actually hatin' on the pre-distressed shirt, but regardless, here we go.

The main comment I got was "How can you be such a gun-ho supporter of American made, selvage, raw-denim, but then showcase a faux-vintage shirt on the blog". Ok, fair question. In my opinion, we're talking apples and oranges. With respect to shirts...yeah, we've all had a shirt that we've had since we were kids, and have watched it transform from starch-pressed cotton to butter soft, and slowly get thinner and thinner from each cycle through the washing machine. The key difference is while the feel and look of the fabric may change, the fit itself doesn't (save your initial run through the drying machine).

Raw denim is a beast of its own. Purchased in its rarest and most natural state, it not only gains natural fades, wear, and tear through everyday use, but it actually molds and contours to fit your specific body. In sneakerhead talk, after a few months - every pair of jeans is a true "1 of 1". I think the need to go raw is pretty self-explanatory - earn your keeps! Wear your jeans like Levi Strauss intended - and you'll get the amazing wash that the huge corporations pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in R&D to replicate for free - and in a more personal manner.

The push for Selvage and American made denim is more about quality. The term selvage (or "self-edge") refers to the reinforced stitching present from denim being manufactured on the old-style shuttle looms. Selvage is desirable because the edge cannot fray like denim made on a projectile loom that has separate wefts which leave an open edge that must be stitched. This advantage is only realized on one edge of the fabric, however, as the fabric has to be cut to shape and anywhere it is cut the self edge is lost. Selvage is matter of quality - unless one cuffs their jeans, you would not be able to tell if their jeans were selvage or non-selvage, especially with brands trying to pull one over on the consumer now a days.

Lastly - I do show a lot of love to the brands that are still producing American made denim the old fashioned way. This is not some last ditch effort at patriotism, but again, boils down to the quality factor. When high quality denim started becoming the rage again in the early 2000's - all of those in the know were looking at Japanese Denim (Evisu, Samurai, Edwin, Sugarcane, etc) for quality. Why is that, you ask? Because in the 1980's, when casual Friday's at denim were all the rage in the US, American companies began sacrificing quality for quantity by pushing for efficiency and cost cutting technicques, while the Japanese companies, with their appreciation for Americana culture, began purchasing all of the vintage shuttle looms and hand producing denim the old-fashioned way - with an emphasis on quality first. In the 2000's, while the mainstream was overpaying for denim with fancy stitching/designs on the back pocket (*cough* 7forMankind, True Religion, Hudson), a select few brands (Roy Denim, Tellason, 3Sixteen, Baldwin, Matix, etc) began going back to the roots and hand-making denim, out of 100% American grown cotton (what up Cone Mills!) on the vintage shuttle looms. The result has been a quality pair of jeans with a great fit, made with top-notch materials and built to last!


Ok, sort of went off on a tangent there, but here are a couple good resources for you first timers interested in jumping in to the world of raw (also referred to as 'dry') denim:
+ Oki Noki's Denim Care Guide - A+ guide on care
+ Denim Debate - on going experiment featuring various contributors who each wear 1 page of denim exclusively, day after day, rain or shine. Shows the maturation process of jeans. Just remember, all of the jeans you see there started looking something like this.

With the right amount of wear and tear, you can take your jeans from completely raw and unfinished (NEW pair of Momotaro classics, to a broken in pair that is not only your own, but is worthy of hanging on a wall and displaying as art (Momotaro's after 9 months of daily, exclusive wear).