Denim is iconic, emotionally singular, irreplaceable…magic. Tomes have been written about denim’s mystical allure. Part of that allure is thanks to visionary designers able to plumb the depths of the human psyche for the perfect looks. The other part of denim’s allure is much more down to earth—the comfort and durability of the fabric.
Some of what makes denim distinctive comes from a very prosaic technique: garment processing. Unlike most apparel that’s sewn together from dyed fabric, denim is dyed at the yarn stage, then subjected to all sorts of further processing after it’s made into a garment. That garment processing technology is part of the magic of denim.
“Denim fashion trends are limited only by human imagination. This is the main advantage of garment treatments [versus] conventional fabric dyeing and finishing,” notes Berk Öcalmaz, global laundry director at dye and chemical supplier DyStar. The same basic fabric can be transformed by garment processing into a vast array of unique looks and styles. “The general structure of denim fabric has remained unchanged through centuries. Evolution has taken place only in the washing techniques,” says Roshan Paul, R&D coordinator for textile technologies at LEITAT Technological Center.
In addition, garment processing can be done at the last minute and in small batches, allowing quicker responses to market trends. Besides the flexibility and creativity permitted by garment processing, Paul notes that the technique also saves time and reduces overall costs because in fabric dyeing and finishing “about 20% of finished textile is wasted as cut pieces.” Denim is frugal!
Perhaps that’s part of denim’s allure as well.