“Typically, the most popular denims on earth will probably be a 3-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – right now – vertical slubs as opposed to cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing facing a wall of selvedge denim in his SoHo store, 3×1. He was not speaking in tongues; he was in brief the language of denim. Morrison grew up in Rancho Mirage, California, played golf as being a kid, visited the University of Washington to play golf on a scholarship, drew up a business plan in college to produce a golf company, then finally relocated to New York City in 1997 and began in on denim.
He arrived at the party on the right time. “I remember going and buying a set of Replay Jeans and looking at the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, precisely what is Manufactured in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ These were $125, which during the time was $25 higher priced than every other product these were making.” This was an advantageous enlightenment; from your late ’90s – Morrison places it around 1999 – onward, premium denim continues to be booming. What started with Earl Jean, Frankie B and his awesome Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For Many Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then the wave really caught on and leading as much as the current 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 at the time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in N . C . were. Selvedge, or “self-edge” denim (so named for that tightly woven band on the end of sheet of denim), was the classic style of denim – “it’s the record player of the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is among the founding fathers in the fabric. Starting in 1891, these people 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 brand new rapier, projectile and air jet looms took over production.
When Morrison and Girard headed to Japan, no person was ordering the slower, more expensive raw selvedge denim. “At the 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 seen in Japan were mills focusing on premium denim from the sort The United States once made. He remembers it being better over the board, from fabrics to sewing to clean. Plus it left an impression. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I used to be a bit obsessed, to say the least.”
Following that trip, Morrison’s travels in Japan (as well as 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 during the time – was to bring this quality returning to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we do the same thing within the States?” said Morrison. He did, however it didn’t catch on right away. He says his first couple of forays into offering selvedge denim failed miserably; customers weren’t ready for $250 jeans. He remembers that things that we take for granted 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 thru two companies, Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn, Morrison evolved with America’s desire for premium denim.
Finally, in 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project up to now. 3×1, provides the largest selection of selvedge denim on earth. They have got, at any moment, 70 rolls of selvedge on their own “denim wall,” and over the years have introduced more than 1000 various kinds of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills around the globe. “The denim luhoxj the mills would be the rockstars in the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 specializes in specialty, and they cater to 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 a few things i want,’” said Morrison.
To reach that time takes some education. And without digging through the annals of denim geek forums, it will take some translating. So, Morrison offered to offer a lay of the selvedge land – a review of what to consider when purchasing premium denim.