“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 – right now – vertical slubs rather than cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing facing a wall of selvedge denim factory in his SoHo store, 3×1. He was not speaking in tongues; he was simply speaking the language of denim. Morrison matured in Rancho Mirage, California, played golf as a kid, went along to the University of Washington to play golf on a scholarship, drafted a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally transferred to New York City in 1997 and began in on denim.
He came to the party at the right time. “I remember going and purchasing a couple 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 at that time was $25 more costly than every other product they were making.” It was an advantageous enlightenment; from your late ’90s – Morrison places it around 1999 – onward, premium denim has become booming. What started with Earl Jean, Frankie B and his Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For Those Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then the wave really caught on and leading up to the present premium denim companies have begun ad infinitum.
Way back in 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison stated 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 among the founding fathers in the fabric. Starting in 1891, they were a premier fabric manufacturer, and through the entire early and mid-1900s, they made only one kind of denim: selvedge denim on shuttle looms. But as technology evolved and also the economy demanded faster, cheaper denim, the brand new rapier, projectile and air jet looms took over production.
When Morrison and Girard headed to Japan, no person was ordering the slower, higher priced raw selvedge denim. “At enough time, the major brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – every one of the American brands were focused on this moderate price point.”What Morrison seen in Japan were mills focusing on premium denim from the sort Canada And America once made. He remembers it being better across the board, from fabrics to sewing to wash. And it also left an impact. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I had been a bit obsessed, as you would expect.”
After that trip, Morrison’s travels in Japan (and also 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 during the time – ended up being to bring this quality returning to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t perform the same thing inside the States?” said Morrison. He did, however it didn’t catch on immediately. He says his initial two forays into offering selvedge denim failed miserably; customers weren’t ready for $250 jeans. He remembers that things which 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 the year 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project up to now. 3×1, offers the largest choice of selvedge denim in the world. They have, at any moment, 70 rolls of selvedge on their own “denim wall,” and over time have introduced more than 1000 different types of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills around the world. “The denim luhoxj the mills are the rockstars of the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 specializes in specialty, and they meet the needs of 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 a few things i want,’” said Morrison.
To access that time takes a bit of education. And without digging through the annals of denim geek forums, it takes some translating. So, Morrison accessible to provide a lay in the selvedge land – an overview of what you should consider when purchasing premium denim.