Let's Chat About Denim.
"IS THAT RAW SELVEDGE JAPANESE DENIM WITH A MODERATE AMOUNT OF SLUB AND NEP?!"Most likely that's what a ton of super attractive people are going to yell at you when you wear some Iron Snail denim. Then they'll try to steal your clothes from you. Anyways, this chat will become extremely important when people ask you why you bought a $265 denim jacket with snails on it, I promise.
A Term Breakdown:
Why Use Japanese Denim?
Japan romanticizes denim to the highest degree.
Essentially, denim in the 21st century has been perfected. There are no "flaws" left and if there are, I'm sure some big wig executive with a cigar in their mouth is going to scream and slam their fists on their table until that "flaw" is gone.
You said "flaw" what "flaw" can denim have? Well, they can have actual manufacturing flaws BUT their can also be inconsistencies in the cotton threads when creating denim. The result of those inconsistencies in the thread cause something called "slub" or "nep". More on that later, gator.
The interesting part about these "flaws" though is that they don't really make the denim any weaker...but they do make denim production slower, which is not good when you're trying to pump a trillion jeans out.
Japan has all the time in the world though. Well, not really but there is clearly a market for denim done a different way (i.e. with these flaws, with better cotton, with old looms, etc.)
Japan became obsessed with denim and essentially mastered it like never before. They saw these "flaws" as art and went on to become the best denim artists in the world. They didn't mind that it took a little longer for the denim to be loomed.
This is not to say there isn't amazing denim being produced all around the world of course -- Japan just is on a different level with denim as an artform.
Why Use Raw Denim?
First off, raw denim is simply denim that has not been washed yet. It's stiff because the fabric is starched so it can be sewn together easier...but that makes some magic happen later.
Raw denim is amazing. I'm drooling just typing this. I love raw denim. So the real question isn't, "why use raw denim?", it's, "...why am I drooling?"
Denim is one of the few things in the world that objectively gets better with age: it softens, the indigo varies in color, and rips in the denim let the white warp poke through. All in all, the more you wear it the more beautiful it becomes.
Most denim today is pre-distressed, heavily rinsed, singed, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, it's just extremely bad and ugly.
In all seriousness though, raw denim is fun and uniquely yours. You are getting a garment that is completely untouched after it's stitched together. It'll be stiff and crunchy until you give it a good rinse or wash. That first rinse and wash will also bring out character in the denim that you didn't see before. As you wear the denim in it'll continue to soften, fade in areas of high wear, and start to form unique designs and creases based off of how you move.
The more you wear it the more yours it becomes.
Is your denim too stiff? Just f'ing wash it. It's okay. I promise. When you buy a jacket we'll include a little note card that talks all about this.
What is Selvedge Denim?
Thank you for asking.
The only difference between selvedge denim and non-selvedge denim is the edge of the fabric. Selvedge denim has a "self-finished" edge, meaning, that when it comes off the loom, the fabric won't fray or unravel. Non-selvedge denim typically uses an overlock seam to prevent the fabric from fraying.
Selvedge denim looks dramatically sharper and cleaner than non-selvedge. Typically the selvedge line on denim is white with a colored ticker running through it. The most common color is red.
Basically, picture selvedge denim as a gorgeous leather bound book, and non-selvedge denim as your three ring binder from the third grade.
What is slub and nep?
Ah, slub! Oh, nep!
These are terms used to describe the character of denim.
"Slub" sounds like "slug" and some people have accidentally called my brand "The Iron Slug" which is wrong.
With some denim you may see that the texture varies a bit. Some threads may look larger or thicker. That's slub! Slub occurs when irregularly sized yarn is used on the loom and or the loom is set to a very low tension when the denim is being woven.
Slub will make denim feel a bit "rougher" or like it's more three-dimensional. It'll also change the fade pattern of the denim -- the thicker yarns fade faster than the thinner ones.
Now let "The Iron Slug" tell you what nep is.
Nep is the result of small knots on the yarn being woven into denim. They create little "puffs" in the denim that add a bit more texture and change the feel.
Typically nep is pretty light and not very noticeable, but if you look close and run your hand over the denim, you'll feel tiny flecks or bumps -- that's nep!