Denim Dictionary


Denim Index


The effect of any abrasive material on denim to give a worn appearance. Normally pumice stone are used to gain this effect.


The ability of a fabric to take in moisture. Absorbency is a very important property, which affects many other characteristics such as skin comfort, static build-up, shrinkage, stain removal, water repellency, and wrinkle recovery.

Acid wash:

A mottled stone wash effect developed in the mid ’80’s. Stones were soaked in bleach (normally potassium permanganate) and then added to the washer without any water. Rarely used after 1994.


Any denim wash with heavy denim wash with heavy abrasion. The finish is often created with brushes or by sand blasting

Aqua Denim:

The very 1st collection of water protective jeans ergonomic styling. Made for people who are into alternative mean of transport (scooters, rollerblades, bikes, skateboards…)


First introduced in the LC range in 1978. Oversized at every possible point.


28 stitches used to attach belt loops and reinforce seams.

Bell bottom:

Bottom based on the old sailor’s trouser, the bell bottom first appeared in the ’60’s and has re-appeared on an irregular basis ever since.

Belt loops:

First used on jeans by Levi’s in 1922 when belts became the popular alternative to braces.


(Normally Sodium Hypochlorite) – Used to fade the indigo dye during washing.

Boot cut:

Cut The ’90’s version of the flare.

Broken twill:

A weave construction that gives a mottled appearance to the garment. .


A soft, slightly furry finish originally obtained by mechanical methods but now simulated through a variety of washing techniques.


Denim a heavy (14.5oz +) undyed 3/1 twill fabric that was particularly popular in the Far East during the ’80’s.

Bedford Cord

A cord cotton-like fabric with raised ridges in the lengthwise direction. Since the fabric has a high strength and a high durability, it is often used for upholstery and work clothes.


A term applied to a yarn or a fabric that is made up of more than one fiber. In blended yarns, two or more different types of staple fibers are twisted or spun together to form the yarn. Examples of a typical blended yarn or fabric is polyester/cotton.


Carding straightens out the yarns prior to spinning.


A baggy knee style with a tight bottom hem that was particularly popular in the mid ’80’s.


A term used for the lightest weights of denim generally bellow 6oz with 1×1 weave.


Classic, basic slacks often worn with jeans wear. A favorite of ’50s teenagers and college students. The name comes from the nickname given to the fabric, because the tailors who worked with it were Chinese.

Coin pocket:

The characteristic ‘fifth’ pocket found on the front of all true jeans (other name: “watch pocket”).


Strong, durable fabric with a cotton ground and vertical cut pile stripes formed by an extra system of filling yarns. Often used as an alternative to denim in Jeanswear garments.


A material derived from the cell walls of certain plants. Cellulose is used in the production of many vegetable fibers, as well as being the major raw material component used in the production of the manufactured fibers of acetate, rayon, and triacetate.


A term used to describe a dyed fabric’s ability to resist fading due to washing, exposure to sunlight, and other environmental conditions.


A term used to describe how dye rubs off fabric on skin or other fabric.


Mixing uneven yarns in both the weft and warped directions to create a unique type of denim that shows a square grid-like pattern in the weave.


A unicellular, natural fiber that grows in the seed pod of the cotton plant. Fibers are typically 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. The longest staple fibers, longer than 1 1/2 inch, including the Pima and Egyptian varieties, produce the highest quality cotton fabrics.


A chemical that causes plants’ leaves to drop off earlier, used to speed up the harvesting process of cotton.


The stuff that jeans are made of. A sturdy cotton twill fabric characterized by a 3×1 warp faced weave, traditionally made with indigo-dyed yarn for the warp and natural yarn for the weft. First known as a work wear fabric, it later became popular as leisure wear and eventually was even used by high-fashion designers.-see Serge de Nimes-


A finishing process that knocks holes in a perfectly good pair of jeans and doubles its price – one of the stranger parts of the denim story.


The number of times that the warp yarn is passed through the indigo dye bath – normally 6 – 12.

Double Needle

A common seam on jeans where two stitchs run parallel to each other for reinforcement


The ’60’s jeans that you could never take off.

Dual Ring Spun 

The process in which both the warp and weft threads are made of ring-spun yarn. It creates a much softer and textured hand than regular (single) ring-spun denim.

Du Pont De Nemours :

A very innovative fiber company, which introduced the Du Pont elasthane fiber Lycra in the ’50s. Du Pont is one of the initiators and pioneers in stretch denim qualities, which made a great impact on the jeans market in the early ’80s.


The typical farmer’s outfit that has become a fashion favorite.


The process by which yarns are colored.


The ability of a fabric to resist wear through continual use.


Proteins that gives the stoning effect. Used in place of traditional pumice stone. They are used in textile processing, mainly in the finishing of fabrics and garments.

Enzyme Wash:

The ecologically friendly version of stonewashing. Enzymes react with the cotton cellulose to give a similar appearance to a normal stonewash.


Man-made elastic fibers that add stretch to denim for a comfortable fit.


The ability of a fiber or fabric to return to its original length, shape, or size immediately after the removal of


An embellishment of a fabric or garment in which colored threads are sewn on to the fabric to create a design. Embroidery may be done either by hand or machine.


A term used to show how well a garment has been dyed.


The final process in the manufacturing cycle. The term can either be applied to the washing or the pressing of the garment.


Can be Slim, Regular, Comfort, Loose, Easy.

Five pocket:

Three on the front, two on the back – the sign of a classic jean.


That essential gap on the front of the jean.


The basic entity, either natural or manufactured, which is twisted into yarns, and then used in the production of a fabric.

Flame Resistant

A term used to describe a fabric that burns very slowly, or has the ability to self-extinguish upon the removal of an external flame.

Flame Retardant

A chemical applied to a fabric, or incorporated into the fiber at the time of production, which significantly reduces a fabric’s flammability.

Garment dye:

Occasionally manufacturers dye the finished garment after production instead of using colored cloth. Many mothers despaired in the ’60’s when their children performed a similar process in the family bath.


The Italian town that gave its name to the first Jeans.


The process in which seeds are removed from picked cotton.


Creates the look of age and wear. It is generally applied to hems, seams, belt loops, pockets and waistbands


The style that horrified tailors throughout the ’60’s with the ‘waist’ barely reaching as far as the top of the hip bone.


The way the fabric feels when it is touched. Terms like softness, crispness, dryness, silkiness are all terms that describe the hand of the fabric.

Hydrophilic Fibers

Fibers that absorb water easily, take longer to dry, and require more ironing.

Hydrophobic Fiber

Fibers that lack the ability to absorb water.


The dyestuff that puts the blue into blue jeans. Originally derived from a plant leaf, indigo has been used as a dye for more than 3000 years. Its characteristics allow the range of different wash finishes.


The seam on the inside of the pant leg


Originally worn by the Genoese sailors the modern jean was born in the USA in the mid 19th century. Key features are the 5 pockets, belt loops, metal buttons and rivets


The key point in the production process where jeans take on a life of their own as the raw denim is converted into the finished product in machines that take up to 250 pairs at a time.


The identifying mark for every self respecting brand.


The equipment on which denim and all woven fabrics are produced.

Loop Dyed 

One of three major industrial methods of dyeing indigo yarn


Stretch fiber, a trademark of the multinational fiber company DuPont de Nemours, introduced in the early’60s. An elastic fiber. Erroneously identical with stretch.

Left hand twill

A more expensive weaving process than the traditional Right hand twill, that gives a slightly softer finish to the garment.


A caustic soda based process used to strengthen dyed fabrics.

Moisture Regain

The amount of water a completely dry fiber will absorb from the air at a standard condition of 70 degrees F and a relative humidity of 65%. Expressed as a % of the dry fiber weight.

Moisture Transport

The movement of water from one side of a fabric to the other, caused by capillary action, wicking, chemical or electrostatic action.


The original home of denim that was first known as Serge de Names. City in French Province that was once known as an important textile centre in the 17th century. Its name is the source to the word denim.

Open end

A spinning process developed to give a more even yarn allowing a uniform woven finish with few defects. An industrial, highly efficient type of yarn spinning technology that utilizes turbine machinery. Faster and less expensive than the original Ring-spun system, it produces denim fabrics that have a more regular, flatter appearance. Often referred to by the initials O.E.


The side seam on any jean.


This can take place before weaving, after weaving or with the finished product and is normally in a different color to add interest to the final appearance of the garment.


In denim manufacturing, when indigo yarn comes out of the dip and joins oxygen, penetrating the fiber.


Abbreviation for ounces. Denim is weighed in oz. per square yard.


The individual parts of a garment which are cut from a single piece of cloth. These panels are stitched together to form a garment.

Pedal pusher

The fifties version of the Capri pant that came down to just below the knee. Like the flare it regularly re-appears in all the best fashion ranges.


A dye used in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s in place of indigo, which was in short supply and high demand.

Pigment dye:

A particular form of dyeing that reacts with the surface of the fabric rather than penetrating the whole yarn. This allows a variety of interesting finishes.

Pima Cotton

Originally grown in the 1900’s in Peru, Pima Cotton is known for its long fibres, making it a very high quality, luxurious cotton. Pima Cotton was brought to America and got its name from the Pima Indians, who harvested this particular type of cotton.

Pocket stitching:

The characteristic stitch mark on the back pocket. 


Provides a chemical resistance in the washing and dyeing process in order to achieve the desired denim wash/ color. It is the basis of a novel type of elastomeric fiber known generically as spandex. It is a man-made fiber (segmented polyurethane) able to stretch at least 100% and snap back like natural rubber

Premiere Vision:

Fabric exhibition held in Paris twice a year, in March and October, famous for its trend-setting and its timely offerings.


A manufactured fiber introduced in the early 1950s, and is second only to cotton in worldwide use. Polyester has high strength (although somewhat lower than nylon), excellent resiliency, and high abrasion resistance. Low absorbency allows the fiber to dry quickly.

Pumice Stone

Lightweight and strong, this stone is used in the process of stone-washing apparel

Resin Bake” crease

A relatively new finishing treatment. The process seeks to replicate the look of permanent creases which normally would occur only after repeated wear and abuse heaped on specific areas.

Right hand twill

Typically a 3/1 weave in which the warp yarn crosses 3 weft yarns before going under the fourth. This gives the characteristic diagonal stripe to the fabric.

Ring spun

The original mechanical spinning method in which yarns were drawn together through a hoop or ring after the carding process. On the point of extinction at the end of the 1980’s the process has now made a comeback. This process is slower and more labor- intensive than the more technologically advanced Open End process, and because it uses a longer fiber, results in a yarn that has a characteristic natural unevenness. This has come to be desirable because of its association with traditional denim. Regularizes are enhanced by stonewashing. The hand is softer than the open-end denim.


Refers to denim in which both warp and weft are made of ring-spun yarn. The hand is even softer than in ring denim. It is the “Ferrari” of denim fabrics.

Ring Dyeing

Describes a quality unique to indigo dye in which only the outer ring of the fibers in the yarn is dyed while the inner core remains white.

Ring Spinning

The process that creates unique surface characteristics in a garment by feeding individual fibers into the end of the yarn while in its twisting zone producing an irregular authentic vintage look. Ring-spun yarns add strength, softness and character to jeans.

River Washing 

The process that creates a naturally aged look by combining pumice stones and cellulose enzymes. The washer is first loaded with stones and fabric. The second stage introduces the enzymes and tumbled together to give denim a vintage, worn hand.


The length of fabric from the crotch seam to the top (or, depending on the maker, sometimes the bottom) of the waistband


The two part metal reinforcements used to strengthen the front pockets on a traditional jean.

Sand Blasting

A process of creating worn-out effect by blasting the garment with sand through a pressurized spray gun.

Safety stitch

The overlocked seam with a stitch running beside it used to hold together the front and back panels.


A patented process that minimizes the warp shrinkage in denim by passing it through a pair of offset rollers.


Partially worn out with a grinding stone, used on pockets, belts, and the reverse side of the legs.

Sea Island Cotton

Known for its silky feel and lustre, one of the best cotton fibres.


The specially woven edge that is incorporated into every piece of denim to prevent fraying.

Serge de Nimes

The original name for denim. It was a sturdy blue twill cloth produced in Nîmes, southern France, in the 17th century.


Today most washed jeans are pre shrunk removing the pleasure enjoyed by many teenagers in the ’60’s who spent many happy hours in the ’60’s sitting in the bath waiting for their jeans to shrink to fit.


Refers to the occurrence of twisting that happens when the fabric shrinks more perpendicular to the twill line. Denim needs to be redirected or “skewed” to prevent the side seam from twisting to the front of the jean

Snow wash

Another name of acid wash. Check details there.

Slasher Dyeing

One of the three main methods of dyeing indigo yarn.


Pre or post-washing, localized or total application of chemicals to the jeans using a pressure gun to achieve the desired look.


The process of combining all the panels of a garment using threads. On average there are more than 200 meters of thread in every pair for jeans.


Jeans and pumice stones are put in a washing machine together to produce that aged appearance.


Denim fabric made with a percentage of elasthane fiber in the weft, giving it a body-fitting stretch quality.


Generic name for man-made fibers derived from a resin called segmented polyurethane. It has good stretch and recovery properties.


Specifications; a detailed statement of particulars, especially a statement stipulating materials, dimensions, and quality of work for something to be manufactured.

Selvage or Selvedge

The thin compressed edge of a woven fabric which runs parallel to the warp yarns and prevents raveling. It is usually woven, utilizing tougher yarns and a tighter construction than the rest of the fabric.

Spandex Fiber

A manufactured elastomeric fiber that can be repeatedly stretched over 500% without breaking, and will still recover to its original length.


A bleaching or dyeing technique in which the fabric or garment is tightly folded and tied at intervals with rubber bands. When submerged in bleach or dye, only exposed sections are affected, creating a distinctive pattern.


A term that applies to the number of turns and the direction that two yarns are turned during the manufacturing process. The yarn twist brings the fibers close together and makes them compact. It helps the fibers adhere to one another, increasing yarn strength. The direction and amount of yarn twist helps determine appearance, performance, durability of both yarns and the subsequent fabric or textile product. Single yarns may be twisted to the right (S twist) or to the left (Z twist). Generally, woolen and worsted yarns are S-twist, while cotton and flax yarns are typically Z-twist. Twist is generally expressed as turns per inch (tpi), turns per meter (tpm), or turns per centimeter.


Rarely found today but these are the jeans that have not been washed.


Either second hand jeans or the heavily abraded finish that makes them look as though someone has spent a lifetime in them.


The color and texture produced by the finishing process of washing the jean; creates varying results, such as an aged appearance or enhanced softness and can include applying colored dye and resin


The yarns that run along the length of a piece of fabric.


The yarns that run across the fabric – normally undyed in denim.


The lightness or heaviness of the denim. Approximately 8 ounces is a breezy, cotton-y fabric; 14 ounces is on the hefty side


A fading of the ridges and creases in the hip and crotch area and back of the knees, which gives the appearance of aged denim; can also be the inverse dark creased in faded denim.

Work wear

The original name for jeans. Today the word is used for garments which are worn during especial special tasks which are of blue-collar nature.


The fit of the garment. Particularly referred to fitting style and measurements.


In woven fabric, the yarns that run lengthwise and is interwoven with the fill (weft) yarns.

Water Repellent

A term applied to fabrics that have been treated with a finish which causes them to shed water, but are still air-permeable.


In woven fabric, the filling yarns that run perpendicular to the warp yarns.

Wrinkle Recovery

Similar to resiliency. It is the ability of a fabric to bounce back after it has been twisted, wrinkled, or distorted in any way.


A continuous strand of textile fibers created when a cluster of individual fibers are twisted together. These long yarns are used to create fabrics, either by knitting or weaving.


Originally invented in 1893 but perfected in 1913 the zip was the fly fastener of choice until the button re-emerged in the ’80’s as the classic jeans fastener.