“Typically, the most famous denims in the world will probably be a 3-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – today – vertical slubs as opposed to cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing before a wall of selvedge denim 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 try out golf on a scholarship, drafted a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally relocated to New York City in 1997 and began in on denim.
He got to the party in the right time. “I remember going and buying a pair of Replay Jeans and looking at the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, what exactly is Made in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ These people were $125, which during the time was $25 more costly than every other product they were making.” This was an advantageous enlightenment; through the late ’90s – Morrison places it around 1999 – onward, premium denim has become booming. What started with Earl Jean, Frankie B along with his Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For Many Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then your wave really caught on and leading up to the present premium denim companies have begun ad infinitum.
In 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison claimed that at that time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in North Carolina were. Selvedge, or “self-edge” denim (so named for that tightly woven band on the end of sheet of denim), was the classic style of denim – “it’s the record player of the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is among the founding fathers of the fabric. Starting in 1891, these 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, nobody was ordering the slower, higher priced selvedge denim jeans. “At the time, the big brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – each of the American brands were centered on this moderate price point.”What Morrison found in Japan were mills concentrating on premium denim from the sort Canada And America once made. He remembers it being better across the board, from fabrics to sewing to clean. Plus it left an impact. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I was somewhat obsessed, to say the least.”
After 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 person who’d buy into this domestically born, internationally perfected practice. Morrison’s idea – shared by a couple other premium denim companies at that time – would be to bring this quality to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we all do the same within the States?” said Morrison. He did, but 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 things that we ignore 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 fascination with premium denim.
Finally, in the year 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project currently. 3×1, supplies the largest selection of selvedge denim in the world. They have got, at any time, 70 rolls of selvedge denim wholesale on their “denim wall,” and over the years have introduced more than 1000 various kinds of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills around the world. “The denim luhoxj the mills are the rockstars from the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 focuses on specialty, and they focus on a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer is the one guy that’ll walk in and stay like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s what I want,’” said Morrison.
To reach that time takes some education. And without digging from the annals of denim geek forums, it will take some translating. So, Morrison accessible to provide a lay in the selvedge land – an overview of things to consider when purchasing premium denim.