“Typically, the most common denims in the world will be a 3-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – at this time – vertical slubs instead of 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 simply speaking the language of denim. Morrison grew up in Rancho Mirage, California, played golf as a kid, visited the University of Washington to play golf on a scholarship, drew up a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally transferred to Ny in 1997 and began in on denim.
He arrived at the party on the proper time. “I remember going and purchasing a couple of Replay Jeans and exploring the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, precisely what is Produced in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ These people were $125, which at the time was $25 higher priced than every other product these were making.” It was an advantageous enlightenment; through the late ’90s – Morrison places it around 1999 – onward, premium denim has been booming. What started with Earl Jean, Frankie B and his awesome Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For All Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then your wave really caught on and leading approximately the present premium denim companies have started ad infinitum.
In 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison stated that during the time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in North Carolina were. Selvedge, or “self-edge” denim (so named for your tightly woven band on the end of sheet of denim), was the classic kind of denim – “it’s the record player from the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is one of the founding fathers from the fabric. Starting in 1891, these were a premier fabric manufacturer, and through the entire early and mid-1900s, they made only one type of denim: selvedge denim on shuttle looms. But as technology evolved as well as the economy demanded faster, cheaper denim, the 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 japanese selvedge denim. “At the time, the big brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – each of the American brands were dedicated to this moderate price point.”What Morrison seen in Japan were mills concentrating on premium denim from the sort North America once made. He remembers it being better over the board, from fabrics to sewing to wash. Plus it left an impact. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I had been a little obsessed, to put it mildly.”
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 during the time – ended up being to bring this quality back to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we all do the same thing inside 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 stuff 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 interest in premium denim.
Finally, in 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project to date. 3×1, supplies the largest choice of selvedge denim on the planet. They have got, at any given time, 70 rolls of selvedge on their “denim wall,” and through the years have introduced a lot more than 1000 various kinds of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills across the world. “The denim luhoxj the mills are the rockstars in the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 specializes in specialty, and they also focus on a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer is definitely the one guy that’ll walk in and be like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s the things i want,’” said Morrison.
To get to that point takes a little bit of education. And without digging through the annals of denim geek forums, it requires some translating. So, Morrison provided to give a lay in the selvedge land – an overview of things to consider when choosing premium denim.