How A British Made Men's Jean Were Created
Wanna, know how Joe & Co created created a bona fide British Made Men’s Jean?
It is a journey that’s been 10 years in the making – they say patience is a virtue!
“All things come to those who wait”
Our Denim History
We've been producing men’s denim jeans for over 35 years, using internationally sourced fabric and manufacturing. In the last 10 years, we have started to use British Manufacturers to construct our men's jeans.
We are proud of the fact that our men’s jeans are British Made. But we've always had the desire to create a true 100% British Made Men's Selvedge Denim Jean. From the fabric, to the manufacturing - All made in Britain!
This is a task easier said than done. Because the British Textile Industry has been in steady decline since the '80s.
A Meeting of Minds – Over a Coffee!
So, you can imagine our delight when Joe met someone at a Denim Trade Show who shared our passion for denim and the British Textile Industry. Over a coffee, they discussed their plan to start producing Selvedge Denim in the UK. Based in Lancashire. Using vintage Northrop shuttle looms, they planned to weave British Raw Selvedge Denim Fabric.
They have faced many challenges along the way. Not least because, of the decline of the British textile industry, meant there was a shortage of skills, experience, and technology.
But they stayed true to their goal, and in 2016 started production of Raw Selvedge Denim. Whilst patience is a virtue, you also have to persevere!
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle”
The Plan - Make British Denim Great Again!
The Northrop Shuttle Loom
The fact the selvedge fabric is woven on Northrop shuttle looms, is a big deal for us!
Not least because it was invented by an Englishman, James Henry Northrop in 1889. It also played a major role in British Textile and the Industrial Revolution. The first mills in England to use the Northrop was Albert Mill in Reddish and Quay Bank Mill.
Quay Bank Mill has featured before in the Joe & Co journey to create a British Made Men's Jean.Joe approached the mill some time ago, with the idea of using their Northrop to weave a selvedge fabric. But, their Northrop is no longer in operation so it was possible. If you’re interested you can see the machine at Quay Bank Mill. And The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, have one on display also.
The old Mills towns that surround Manchester have been a great source of inspiration for Joe & Co. They influenced the design of the back pocket design of our British Made Men’s Jeans these back pocket designs (if you're interested) are also known as arcuates, and the most famous arcuate design is probably the Levis W.
Why Shuttle Looms
Non-selvage denim fabrics are woven using modern projectile looms. But the preferred option for selvedge denim has to be the shuttle loom.
Why is the shuttle loom so coveted in the production of selvedge denim fabric?
Several reasons why the shuttle loom is so coveted, mainly technical reasons. (we’ll avoid all that stuff), a word of warning though, there is some technical jargon coming up!
Aside from the fabric dyeing process. It is the shuttle loom that gives selvedge denim its distinctive appearance. And this is the real reason why they are the preferred option.
Selv “edge” ; The shuttle loom creates that colored thread that you see in the turn up on the selvedge jean. This happens because the loom edges of the fabric to prevent it from fraying or unraveling.
Slub; The technical meaning of slub is:
“a fabric having an irregular appearance caused by uneven thickness”.
What this means is the shuttle loom weaves a fabric that is uneven, softer, and has a more textured appearance.
And, why is slub important?
It's these irregularities in the fabric that create more interesting fades. The uneven texture means fades will develop vertically and the fabric will fades will appear at a different rate. So as your jeans age different levels of fades will begin to appear.
In the image below you can see the different level of fades appearing across the fabric and the early stages of the vertical fading.
Nepping; The technical meaning of nepping is:
"fabric that has been woven in such a way that fibers will sometimes protrude slightly from the surface"
The Shuttle Loom create the nepping effect in selvedge fabric. The protruding fibers are fibers that have broken or knotted as a result of how the looms weave the fabric.
And why is nepping important?
Nepping like slubbing adds to the characteristic fade of the fabric.
But rather than creating vertical fades,nepping encourages horizontal fading.
As your jeans break in and the creases build up. The nepping in the fabric will encourage fades to appear across the creases.
In the image below you can see the nepped fibers in the fabric.
We wanted our British Made Jean to be reminiscent of the orginal denim workwear. And, it was the fabric nepping and slub that gave the workwear that hard wearing, worn in battered look, the type of jean that gets better the more you wear them.
Funnily enough, today's mass manufactures try to produce this look using their projectile looms. Yet its only the shuttle looms that can naturally create these authentic characteristics.
So not only was the heritage of the shuttle loom important to us. It was vital in creating the style of men's jean we were looking to create.
Like we do with all the garments we create, we road test a sample before we go into full production. The image below shows the results of the road test for our British Made Men's Selvedge Jeans and as you can see the fades (horizontal and vertical) starting to break in.
Constructing The Jean
So now we had finally sourced a true British Made Selvedge Denim Fabric.
It was now over to construction stage to make our British Made Men's Selvedge Denim Jean. As we mentioned earlier, for the last 10 years we have been shipping in fabric, such as Japaneses Selvedge and Italian Selvedge and having the jeans made here in Lancashire.
But not this time, this time the fabric simply (and sustainably) traveled 30 miles across Lancashire to be made. We did make inquires into transporting the fabric using the Lancashire canal network. But this wasn’t a workable option.
The construction stage of our men’s jeans is an important process for us. Because, It’s here where we add the premium quality detailing that differentiates our men’s jeans.
When we were constructing this jean, we wanted to celebrate their heritage. So we commissioned the design of an embroidered Lancashire Red Rose that we have added to the small coin pocket of the jean.
So after years of determination, patience, and a bit of hustling we’ve realised our vision of creating a truly British Made Men’s Jean.
Aside from our desire to create a men’s jean that we hope take pride of place in your wardrobe, we are passionate about supporting the British Textile Industry. And we wanted to create a pair of men’s jeans that combined these inspirations, and the result is a British Made Raw Selvedge Denim Jean that we believe can hold its own against any of the world renowned denim mills from Japan, USA or Italy.