Denim is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weave produces a diagonal ribbing that distinguishes it from cotton duck. While a denim predecessor known as dungaree has been produced in India for hundreds of years, denim as it is recognized today was first produced in Nîmes, France.
Denim is available in a range of colors, but the most common denim is indigo denim in which the warp thread is dyed while the weft thread is left white. As a result of the warp-faced twill weaving, one side of the textile is dominated by the blue warp threads and the other side is dominated by the white weft threads. Jeans fabricated from this cloth are thus predominantly white on the inside. Denim is used to create a wide variety of garments, accessories, and furniture.
'Denim' originated as a contraction of the French phrase serge de Nîmes ('serge from Nîmes').
Denim has been used in the United States since the mid-19th century. Denim initially gained popularity in 1873 when Jacob W. Davis, a tailor from Nevada, manufactured the first pair of rivet-reinforced denim pants. The popularity of denim jeans outstripped the capacity of Davis's small shop, so he moved his production to the facilities of dry goods wholesaler Levi Strauss & Co., which had been supplying Davis with bolts of denim fabric.
Throughout the 20th century denim was used for cheap durable uniforms like those issued to staff of the French national railways.[better source needed] In the post-war years, the Royal Air Force issued olive-drab denim coveralls (colloquially known as "denims") for dirty work.
This section needs expansion with: a paragraph discussing the rise of denim’s popularity during the 1950s and ’60s. You can help by adding to it. (May 2023)
By the 1970s, denim jeans were such an integral part of youth culture that automobile manufactures, beginning with American Motors Corporation began offering denim-like interior finishes. (Because denim cannot pass fire resistance safety standards, indigo-colored spun nylon or vinyl was used, with contrast-stitching and copper rivets helping to sell the effect.) A Levi's-branded trim package debuted with AMC's 1973 model year. Similar packages were available from Volkswagen from 1973 to 1975 (the "Jeans Beetle") and from Jeep from 1975 through 1977.
All denim is created through generally the same process:
- Cotton fiber is spun into yarn
- The warp yarn is dyed, while the weft is left white (usually)
- The yarns are woven on a shuttle loom or projectile loom
- The woven product is sanforized
Most denim yarn is composed entirely of cotton, a natural fiber cultivated since prehistoric times, and domesticated independently in the Old World (Africa, Europe and Asia) and New World (the Western Hemisphere).
Once cotton fibers are cleaned and combed into long, cohesive lengths of similar-length fiber, they are spun into yarn using an industrial machine. Throughout the creation of denim, washes, dyes, or treatments are used to change the appearance of denim products.
Some denim yarn may use an elastic component such as spandex for up to 3% of the content to allow the final woven product to stretch. Even such a small amount of spandex enables a stretching capacity of about 15%.
Denim was originally dyed with indigo dye extracted from plants, often from the genus Indigofera. In South Asia, indigo dye was extracted from the dried and fermented leaves of Indigofera tinctoria; this is the plant that is now known as "true indigo" or "natural indigo". In Europe, use of Isatis tinctoria, or woad, can be traced back to the 8th century BC, although it was eventually replaced by Indigofera tinctoria as the superior dye product. However, most denim today is dyed with synthetic indigo dye. In all cases, the yarn undergoes a repeated sequence of dipping and oxidation—the more dips, the stronger the color of the indigo.
Prior to 1915, cotton yarns were dyed using a skein dyeing process, in which individual skeins of yarn were dipped into dye baths. Rope dyeing machines were developed in 1915, and slasher or sheet dyeing machines were developed in the 1970s; both of these methods involve a series of rollers that feed continuous yarns in and out of dye vats. In rope dyeing, continuous yarns are gathered together into long ropes or groups of yarns – after these bundles are dyed, they must be re-beamed for weaving. In sheet dyeing, parallel yarns are laid out as a sheet, in the same order in which they will be woven; because of this, uneven circulation of dye in the dye bath can lead to side-to-side color variations in the woven cloth. Rope dyeing eliminates this possibility, because color variations can be evenly distributed across the warp during beaming.
Denim fabric dyeing is divided into two categories: indigo dyeing (Indigo dye is unique shade of blue) and sulfur dyeing(Sulfur dye is a synthetic organic dye and it is formed by sulphurisation of organic intermediates, this contains nitro or amino groups). Indigo dyeing produces the traditional blue color or shades similar to it. Sulfur dyeing produces specialty black colors and other colors, such as red, pink, purple, grey, rust, mustard, and green.
Most denim made today is made on a shuttleless loom that produces bolts of fabric 60 inches (1,500 mm) or wider, but some denim is still woven on the traditional shuttle loom, which typically produces a bolt 30 inches (760 mm) wide. Shuttle-loom-woven denim is typically recognizable by its selvedge (or selvage), the edge of a fabric created as a continuous cross-yarn (the weft) reverses direction at the edge side of the shuttle loom. The selvedge is traditionally accentuated with warp threads of one or more contrasting colors, which can serve as an identifying mark.
Although quality denim can be made on either loom, selvedge denim has come to be associated with premium products since final production that showcases the selvedge requires greater care of assemblage.
The thickness of denim can vary greatly, with a yard of fabric weighing anywhere from 9 to 32 oz (260 to 910 g), with 11 to 14 oz (310 to 400 g) being typical.
Denim is frequently used for a wide array of consumer products including:
Denim has been a medium for many artists. At least one artist, Ian Berry, uses denim exclusively in crafting his portraits and other scenes.
In 2020, the worldwide denim market equalled US$57.3 billion, with demand growing by 5.8% and supply growing by 8% annually. Over 50% of denim is produced in Asia, most of it in China, India, Turkey, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Globally, the denim industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 4.8% during 2022 to 2026, with the market value expected to increase from $57.3 billion to $76.1 billion.
The following table shows where the world's denim mills are located.
|Region||Number of mills|
|Asia (excluding India and China)||81|
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