“Typically, the most famous denims on earth are going to be a three-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – at this time – vertical slubs as opposed to cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing before a wall of selvedge denim factory 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 being a kid, went along to the University of Washington to try out golf on a scholarship, drafted a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally moved to Ny in 1997 and started in on denim.
He came to the party at the proper time. “I remember going and purchasing a couple of Replay Jeans and studying the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, precisely what is Produced in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ These were $125, which at that time was $25 higher priced than some other product these people were making.” This was an advantageous enlightenment; through the 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 All Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then this wave really caught on and leading approximately the present premium denim companies have begun ad infinitum.
Back in 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison claimed that at that time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in North Carolina were. Selvedge, or “self-edge” denim (so named for the tightly woven band on the end of sheet of denim), was the classic style of denim – “it’s the record player from the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is one of the founding fathers of the fabric. Starting in 1891, these 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 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, nobody was ordering the slower, more costly selvedge denim manufacturer. “At time, the large brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – every one of the American brands were dedicated to this moderate price point.”What Morrison present 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 clean. And it left an impact. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I used to be a bit obsessed, as you would expect.”
Following 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 only a couple other premium denim companies at the time – would be to bring this quality returning to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we all do the same in the States?” said Morrison. He did, but 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 stuff that we ignore on jeans today – oven baking, 3D-whiskering, hand sanding, bleach sponging – didn’t even exist till 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 currently. 3×1, supplies the largest collection of selvedge denim on the planet. They have, at any time, 70 rolls of japanese denim on their “denim wall,” and over the years have introduced more than 1000 several types of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills around the globe. “The denim luhoxj the mills are definitely the rockstars from the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 focuses on specialty, plus they focus on a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer is definitely the one guy that’ll walk in and become like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s the things i want,’” said Morrison.
To get to that point takes some education. And without digging through the annals of denim geek forums, it will take a bit of translating. So, Morrison provided to offer a lay of the selvedge land – a review of things to consider when purchasing premium denim.