“Typically, the most famous denims in the world will probably be a three-by-one right-hand twill weave, 10 to 12 ounces, red cast (vs. green cast), and – today – vertical slubs rather than cross hatch,” Scott Morrison said, standing before a wall of Wingfly Textile in his SoHo store, 3×1. He had not been speaking in tongues; he was simply speaking the language of denim. Morrison matured in Rancho Mirage, California, played golf as being a kid, went to the University of Washington to try out golf on a scholarship, drew up a business plan in college to produce a golf company, then finally transferred to New York in 1997 and began in on denim.
He got to the party on the perfect time. “I remember going and purchasing a set of Replay Jeans and studying the inside and going, ‘Holy shit, what exactly is Produced in Japan? Japanese Denim? Japanese Wash?’ They were $125, which during the time was $25 more costly than any other product these were making.” This is 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 Paper Denim & Cloth then moved into 7 For Many Mankind, JBrand, True Religion. Then your wave really caught on and leading as much as the present premium denim companies have started ad infinitum.
Way back in 1999, Morrison and Ken Girard, head of Cone Mills product development, traveled to Japan. Morrison stated that at that time, the Cone Mills selvedge shuttle looms in North Carolina 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 of the fabric. Starting in 1891, they were a premier fabric manufacturer, and throughout the early and mid-1900s, they made only one kind of denim: selvedge denim on shuttle looms. But as technology evolved as well as the economy demanded faster, cheaper denim, the newest rapier, projectile and air jet looms took over production.
When Morrison and Girard headed to Japan, no one was ordering the slower, higher priced selvedge denim jeans. “At the time, the major brands, Gap, J.Crew, Esprit, Levis, Lee, Wrangler – every one of the American brands were focused on this moderate price point.”What Morrison found in Japan were mills focusing on premium denim in the sort Canada And America once made. He remembers it being better across the board, from fabrics to sewing to wash. And it left an effect. “My dogs were named after Japanese denim mills – Kurabo and Nishimbo. I had been somewhat obsessed, to say the least.”
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 only a couple other premium denim companies during the time – would be to bring this quality returning to American jeans. “The premise was, why can’t perform the same within the States?” said Morrison. He did, nevertheless it didn’t catch on immediately. He says his first couple of forays into offering selvedge denim failed miserably; customers weren’t ready for $250 jeans. He remembers that things which 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 2011, he started 3×1, his most specialized project up to now. 3×1, supplies the largest choice of selvedge denim on the planet. They may have, at any time, 70 rolls of selvedge denim wholesale on the “denim wall,” and over time have introduced more than 1000 different types of selvedge denim, sourced from 22 different mills around the world. “The denim luhoxj the mills are the rockstars from the shop,” Morrison said. 3×1 concentrates on specialty, and they also focus on a distinct, particular client. “I know our customer is the one guy that’ll walk in and become like, ‘That’s fu.cking awesome, that’s the things i want,’” said Morrison.
To access that point takes a little bit of education. And without digging from the annals of denim geek forums, it will take a bit of translating. So, Morrison accessible to offer a lay of the selvedge land – a review of things to consider when purchasing premium denim.