Ariat’s Denim Glossary: Our Complete Guide to Denim

Discover everything you need to know about denim with Ariat’s complete guide and glossary. From how the iconic fabric is made to the anatomy of jeans.

We’ve all got that one favourite pair of jeans, but what makes them so special? We’re here to unpick our favourite material with a complete guide to denim, including defining common denim terminology with a glossary of terms.

What is Denim?

Denim is an incredibly durable material, made from a cotton or cotton blend twill weave, giving it it’s diagonal ribbing pattern. The material is one of the most popularly worn due to its versatility and hard-wearing characteristics.

How is Denim Made?

To create the denim fabric, two types of thread are used. The weft thread, and the warp thread. These are woven together over a loom to create the fabric we all know and love. 

Warp thread: these are the threads that run horizontally and stay static as the weft thread is woven over and under. They are stronger but softer than the weft threads, and most commonly dyed indigo. 

Weft thread: these are the threads that are woven crosswire to the warp threads, and most commonly have no colour. 

Loom: this is an industrial machine that holds the warp fabric tight and under tension whilst the weaving process occurs.

Types of Denim

Raw denim: is completely untreated and hasn’t gone through any washing or shrinking processes. Instead, it’s taken straight from the loom. It is a dark blue colour, but the colour tends to fade with washes. Because it’s been untreated, the fabric is stiff and durable, often used by workers.

Indigo dyed denim: is denim that was washed in the popular indigo colour in production. The warp thread is dyed indigo whilst the weft thread is left white, resulting in the classic blue jean colour and the lighter inside. 

Colour dyed denim: is denim where the threads are soaked and dyed particular colours to allow for black, white, pink, and multi-coloured jeans. Selvage denim: or ‘self edge’ denim is characterised by finished edges that don’t fray. Selvedge is a different way of weaving, and it is arguably more exclusive and unique, as well as more durable. Because of this, it is often suggested to be of higher quality. The finished selvedge is rare to find and is particularly desirable to denim afficionados. 

Acid wash denim: is scrubbed with chlorine or washed with chemical acids to get the unique look. 

Stone wash denim: is when pumice stones are used to remove colour and abrase the surface of the denim. 

Crushed denim: is denim that is purposefully wrinkled in the process of making a garment. These wrinkles are permanent and don’t fall out when washed. 

Ecru denim: is undyed denim, characterised by the natural creamy colour of cotton. 

Poly denim: is when poly-cotton fibres are used within the weaving process, and it is often much softer. Stretch denim: is when a material like Lycra, or similar, is woven into the fabric to get the stretch. 

Bull denim: is made from 100% cotton. Bull denim is typically very sturdy and tough. 

Organic denim: is denim made with cotton that has been grown and produced without any chemicals.

The Anatomy of the Jean

Tack button: is the two-piece button, made up of the button and the tack, that allows you do up your jeans at the waist. 

Jean zip: is the zip at the front of the jean that allows you to do up your jeans and undo them to slip them easily over your hips. 

Rise: is the distance between the top of the waistband and the middle of the crotch seam. The rise is typically high-rise, mid-rise, or low-rise. See also our unique ‘Perfect Rise’ styles. 

Coin pocket: is the small pocket that sits inside the regular scoop pocket.

Rivets: are the small, circular metal parts on a pair of jeans, often found around the pockets, and used to strengthen the parts of jeans that might be more susceptible to ripping or tearing. 

Bartacks: are small zigzag stitches used to reinforce areas susceptible to ripping or tearing, like pockets and belt loops. These often replace rivets. 

Seam: is where two or more pieces of fabric are joined. On a pair of jeans, you have the inner and the outer seams that run down the length of the leg. 

Hem: is the seam at the bottom of the jeans, around the ankle. Jeans can be hemmed to shorten the leg by cutting the excess fabric, folding the fabric, and sewing the hem up. 

Belt loops: are the loops of fabric around the waist, designed to thread a belt through. 

Yoke: is the V-shaped section at the back of the jeans, just below the waistband, which gives the jeans their curve. The deeper the yoke, commonly also known as the rise, the more curved the jean. 

Leather patch: is the rectangular leather piece of material that is sewn to the waistband.