“Typically, the most common denims in the world are going to be a 3-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – right now – vertical slubs instead of cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing in front of 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 matured in Rancho Mirage, California, played golf as being a kid, went along to the University of Washington to play golf on a scholarship, drafted a business plan in college to launch a golf company, then finally transferred to Ny in 1997 and began in on denim.
He came to the party on the right time. “I remember going and buying a couple of Replay Jeans and looking at the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, what exactly is Produced in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ These people were $125, which at that time was $25 more expensive than some other product they were making.” This 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 along with his Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For Those Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then this wave really caught on and leading up to 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 the 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 of the denim industry,” said Morrison – and Cone Mills is one of the founding fathers from the fabric. Starting in 1891, they 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 also 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 one was ordering the slower, more costly selvedge denim manufacturer. “At enough time, the major brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – each of the American brands were focused on this moderate price point.”What Morrison seen in Japan were mills centering on premium denim in the sort North America once made. He remembers it being better over the board, from fabrics to sewing to clean. And it also left an effect. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I was somewhat obsessed, as you would expect.”
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 one who’d buy into this domestically born, internationally perfected practice. Morrison’s idea – shared by a couple other premium denim companies at the time – ended up being to bring this quality to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t we all do the same in the States?” said Morrison. He did, nevertheless it didn’t catch on immediately. 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 up 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 to date. 3×1, provides the largest collection of selvedge denim on earth. They may have, at any time, 70 rolls of japanese denim on the “denim wall,” and over the years have introduced more than 1000 several types 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, plus they focus on a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer is definitely the one guy that’ll walk in and stay like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s a few things i want,’” said Morrison.
To access that time takes a little bit of education. And without digging with the annals of denim geek forums, it takes a little bit of translating. So, Morrison offered to offer a lay of the selvedge land – a review of what to consider when buying premium denim.