All About Denim Fabric

When it comes to fabrics, one of the most iconic in the world is denim. In fact, when you say the term “denim jeans,” most people would already know what you are talking about. It is a popular fabric across national and cultural boundaries, and it has also become a symbol of American culture the world over. 

If you usually wear denim jeans, have you ever thought about what exactly it is and where it comes from? Why do you think its popularity continues throughout the decades? If you are also looking for answers to those questions, you’re in the right place. Today, we are giving you more information about denim fabrics.

The History of Denim Fabric

The word “denim” is from the French serge de Nimes, which is a specific type of fabric that was made in a town in France called Nimes. As time passed, the warp-faced cotton weave style became popular in the region, and its popularity spread across neighboring Italy. The world’s biggest producer of serge de Nimes was Genoa. Since the French name for Genoa is “Genes,” the term “jeans” stayed when the fabric gained renewed popularity in the American Gold Rush.

A lot of gold miners liked the durability of denim-weave cotton, and they are also easy to repair. Even though other dye colors were widely available in the American West, many manufacturers, including Levi Strauss, continued using the indigo blue color that Genoan fabric merchants originally used out of necessity. 

Since the 1850s, denim fabric has been widely used. In fact, no other clothing item has survived within American culture like blue jeans. This made a pair of Levi jeans in the closet something of a heritage artifact. 

As years passed, textile producers in America began making other apparel items using denim. This is why today, we can buy many things, not just pieces of clothing, which are made of denim. The production of blue jeans was once limited to the United States, but in the late 20th century, manufacturing migration saw the majority of denim production transfer to other countries. 

At the present time, denim fabric has too many variations to list. It has also been blended with other fabric and weave styles as designers have worked busily to create the latest trends in denim fashion. The traditional Levi 501s remained very popular around the world. There is also a niche industry that revolves around raw denim, which is among the hipster’s lingo books. Even now, the global interest in denim still remains strong. It is very likely that this weave will continue to be produced as long as cotton stays a major fabric product.

How is Denim Fabric Made?

person wearing a denim jacket

To make a denim fabric, there are three stages that need to be finished. Here they are:

1. Cotton Cultivation

The production of denim starts with the cultivation of the cotton plant. The cotton plant develops a thick ball of fibers around its small black seeds as it grows as a protective measure. These fibers are collected and separated from the seeds to create fabric. 

2. Processing Into Yarn

When the cotton fibers are cleaned, they are combed and transformed into long, thin strings. After that, they are spun into yarn via an industrial machine. In this process, different types of washes, dyes, and treatments can be applied to change the characteristics of the finished denim product. 

3. Final Production

When the cotton yarn is made and dyed, it will then be woven into the popular warp-faced denim style. It is usually produced in bolts that can be bought by the yard and shaped into finished products, such as jeans, jackets, and more. 

Different Types of Denim Fabric

Over the years, there have been some forms of denim have been created. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Raw Denim

Raw denim means it has not been washed or treated. It is worn for six months to a year without washing to ensure that it forms to the wearer’s body. Many raw denim enthusiasts place their jeans in the freezer overnight to kill off bacteria and microbes.

Stretch Denim

Stretch types of denim are made by mixing cotton with spandex or comparable material. It results in a fabric that is stretchier compared to the usual denim fabric. Stretch denim is usually used in making form-fitting pieces of clothing, like skinny jeans.

Acid Wash Denim

An acid wash denim features a popular stippled appearance. It is created by washing raw denim in a strong acid that will eat away at the dye. 

Sanforized Denim

A sanforized or sulfurized denim is made by the washing process that has resulted in more modern denim fabric. These are softer but also less durable. Also, unlike raw denim jeans, sanforized denim can’t be personalized. 

Selvedge Denim

This is a type of denim that has a fringe at the end. It is usually used in making denim jackets. 

Poly Denim

Poly denim refers to denim items that are made using a blend of polyester, cotton, and other artificial fibers. Materials such as nylon and lyocell are sometimes added to cotton to make poly denim. However, for some purists, poly denim is not considered “real” denim. 

Crushed Denim

Crushed denim has a weave that is like velvet. It features a permanently wrinkled look that makes it attractive for skirts and jackets. 

What are the Different Uses of Denim?

Denim fabrics can be used in different factors such as for apparel, accessories, and as well as for homeware. The majority of denim fabrics are used in making pieces of clothing. Some examples are jeans, jackets, shirts, vests, blouses, and skirts. 

Many manufacturers also use denim fabrics and making accessories, such as belts, hats, purses, and shoes. Aside from that, denim fabric can also be used as a practical fabric, such as in making upholstery, pillows, blankets, and curtains. 


Denim is indeed a very popular type of fabric, especially in the fashion industry. It is among the fabrics that do not go out of style, no matter what era we are in today. With its popularity, it’s likely that many other denim pieces of clothing with different styles will be introduced in the years to come. We hope that this helped you learn more about denim fabric. For more information about fashion, check out our list of Random Facts about Fashion.