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ReEngineering Cotton For Indigo Denim


When we produce a TCB exclusive fabric, we always start from choosing the right cotton breed and its blend ratio.This time, we have made a new fabric from a scrap fabric of 1910 woven by Amoskeag mill, later replaced with the famous Cone mill as you know. Having a glimpse at the fabric, I immediately noticed the strong irregularity on each yarn, by far the strongest slubby and neppy denim compared to numerous Levis jeans I’ve seen so far. So, it was this slubbiness that was the key to reproduce this fabric.


Should I make the fabric with structured denim?
(Structured denim is a fabric made of threads that have the irregularity of more than 3 different yarn counts in a thread. so a thread has ,for example, yarn count: 7,8, and 9 parts within itself. Making it more easy to understand for denim heads, you often see super strong slubby jeans with waterfall fades, right? Those are what we call Structured denim. But we think structured denim is a bit too artificial for any vintage reproduction and the irregularity of the threads on the vintage jeans was not intentionally made back then but they were brought by many unstable factors on the quality of cotton, the weaving and so on.)
I have poured so much time to study the fabric, checking the threads and its shape through a magnifying glass. But they didn’t look like the structured denim at all. but I felt it just looks too artificial and that approach is wrong.


It’s fair to say that the spinning technics back then was not fully developed and that all denim reproduction brands are trying to replicate the irregularity by lots of different methods, mostly computer-regulated ways.
But I came up with a unprecedented way to do it.


恐らく強撚の方が藍の染まり方が浅く色落ちが早くなる為、Vintage同様のムラの強い縦落ち感が生まれるので無いかと仮定してます。ビンテージ でも、色が落ち始めたジーンズをよくみてみると全体的に色が落ちる中で、数本縦方向にサーっと色が抜ける糸がありますよね。これは、撚りの強さによってインディゴがどれほど浸透するかが違うためです。(撚りが強い=インディゴが浸透しづらい=中ジロの部分が多くなる→色落ちが早い)

Normally when making the irregularity of the threads, they change the thickness of the threads and use that one thread for the whole fabric.but no one has not made one step further about this. Of course the quality of cotton from the old days was unstable and poor but the spinning as well for sure. This time, we have decided to use two different threads spun by 2 different spinning index: 80% strong-spun and the rest of 20% have half the spinning index used for the strong-spun part. Simply put, I think you have experienced something like this. when you fade jeans, you see 2~3 threads on your jeans faded much more than other threads, huh? That happens because the spinning is different. The more hard-spun the threads are, the less indigo penetrate into the threads, meaning that they are prone to fade faster.


Of course, they wanted to make perfectly spun, perfectly woven, perfectly dyed fabric back then but with the benefit of hindsight the spinning was surely unstable back then so it’s like not the irregularity on the thickness of the threads but the irregularity of the spinning index. If the spinning index is different, the dyeing absorbency differs even on each thread so that they’ll develop the most natural irregularity of indigo dye too.

The cotton used is EMOT cotton (East Memphis, New Orleans and Texas) blended with some pima cotton from the southwest of the state. Pima give a nice creamy brownish color to the threads and this blend was the perfect balance.

This is just a part of the story of our new denim. what about dyeing? what about weaving, construction, cut. etc? Our Re-Engineering goes on so stay tuned on TCB.




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