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The Verdict is In: The Best Types of Denim Fabric and Denim Washes

We all recognize denim, but what is it?

man and woman wearing clothes in denim fabrics

Denim is a versatile and durable cotton fabric that has been a staple in fashion for centuries. Originally used for workwear, denim has evolved into a popular material for jeans, jackets, and other clothing items. With its unique texture and ability to be dyed in a variety of colors, denim has become one of the most recognizable fabrics in the world.

However, not all denim is created equal. There are different types of denim available on the market today, each with their own distinct characteristics and qualities. In this article, we will explore what exactly denim is and take a closer look at some of the various types of denim fabric available for your fashion purchases.

What is denim fabric?

sewing on denim fabric

It’s a type of cotton twill fabric in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads.


The weft is the filling thread and the warp are the lengthwise threads that are held stationary in the weaving process. The warp is usually colored (blue) and the weft is white. The end result is a diagonal pattern in the threads that set it apart from other cotton fabrics. This type of weave makes it very sturdy and a great choice for labor work clothing.

The word derives from the French word Serge de Nimes, referring to the city of Nimes. De Nimes means “of the Nimes”, and well, you can see how it became slurred into denim.

This durable fabric became popular in America when Levi Strauss (a cloth merchant) and Jacob Davis (a tailor) got together in 1873 to fill an order for a sturdy pair of trousers. As they say, the rest is history. Jeans were invented. If you want to know more about the various types of denim we have now, keep reading.

Denim is a timeless fabric used in clothing of all pieces. It’s versatile, durable and stylish, and a popular choice for everyday casual outfits. There are many different types of denim available.

shades of denim fabric in jeans

7 Different Types of Denim

1. Raw Denim: 

raw denim

Raw denim, also known as dry or unwashed denim, also called unsanforized denim, is a type of denim fabric that has not undergone any washing or finishing processes after being woven. This means that the fabric retains its natural color and stiffness, and over time develops unique fading patterns and creases based on how it is worn.

Raw denim enthusiasts appreciate the durability and authenticity of this fabric. Unlike pre-washed jeans which may have artificially added distress marks or fades, raw denim offers a blank canvas for the wearer to create their own personalized look through wear and tear. With each wash (or lack thereof), the color will fade slightly differently, creating a truly unique pair of jeans.

But wearing raw denim requires some patience and care. The stiff nature of the fabric can make it uncomfortable at first, but with regular wear it will soften up to become more comfortable over time. It’s important to follow care instructions carefully in order to preserve the integrity of the fabric and prevent shrinking or warping.

In addition to jeans, raw denim is also used for jackets, shirts, hats, bags and other accessories. Its versatility makes it a popular choice among fashion-forward individuals who appreciate timeless style that gets better with age.

Overall, raw denim offers something special in our fast-paced world where everything seems disposable. By investing in a high-quality piece made from this authentic material, you are making a statement about valuing longevity over trends – plus you get to enjoy watching your garment evolve into something uniquely yours.

2. 100% Cotton

100% cotton denim

100% cotton denim is a type of denim fabric that is made entirely from cotton fibers. It is commonly used in the production of jeans, jackets, and other clothing items due to its durability and versatility. One of the main benefits of 100% cotton denim is its breathability. Cotton fibers allow air to circulate freely through the fabric, making it comfortable to wear even in hot weather conditions.

This also means that 100% cotton denim is less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies compared to synthetic fabrics. Another advantage of 100% cotton denim is its strength and durability. Cotton fibers are naturally strong, which makes them resistant to tears and abrasions. Additionally, because they are not mixed with other materials, 100% cotton denim maintains its shape over time and does not shrink or stretch as easily as blended fabrics.

3. Stretch Denim

stretch denim fabric skinny jeans outfitPin

As the name suggests, this type of denim contains some stretch material (usually elastane) which gives it more flexibility than traditional cotton-based denims. Stretch denim is perfect for those who want comfort without sacrificing style.

Stretch denim, also known as spandex or elastane denim, is a popular clothing material made from a combination of cotton and synthetic fibers. This innovative fabric has revolutionized the fashion industry by providing comfort, style and durability to denim lovers all over the world.

 Stretch denim was first introduced in the 1990s as an alternative to traditional rigid denim. It quickly became popular due to its ability to stretch and recover with ease, making it perfect for form-fitting jeans, skirts and jackets that flatter different body types. One of the key benefits of stretch denim is its flexibility. The addition of spandex or elastane fibers allows the material to stretch up to 30% without losing shape or sagging. 

This makes it ideal for people who want comfortable and flattering clothes that move with their bodies. Curve hugging skinny jeans have been a favorite style made from stretch denim.

Another advantage of stretch denim is its durability. The synthetic fibers used in its production make it resistant to wear and tear, even after multiple washes.

Stretch denim comes in various weights ranging from lightweight (8-10 oz) to heavyweight (14-16 oz). Lightweight stretch denim is perfect for summer clothing as it’s breathable and easy to move around in while heavier weight fabrics are great for cooler weather when you need extra warmth. 

4. Black Denim

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Black denim is denim dyed black. It a staple in any wardrobe because they it be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Black denim can be made from different materials such as cotton or polyester blends to give them different properties like stretchability or durability.

Black denim is a timeless classic that never goes out of style. Whether you’re going for a casual look or something more formal, black denim is always a great choice. One of the biggest advantages of black denim is its versatility.

You can wear black jeans with just about anything – from t-shirts and sneakers to blazers and dress shoes. It’s perfect for creating an edgy, rock-and-roll vibe or adding some sophistication to your outfit. Another benefit of black denim is its durability. This makes it an excellent investment piece that will last you for years to come.

In terms of styling options, there are endless possibilities with black denim. You can pair it with a simple white t-shirt for a classic look or add some edge with a leather jacket and combat boots. For something more sophisticated, try pairing it with a button-down shirt and loafers. When shopping for black denim, make sure to pay attention to the fit and quality of the fabric. Look for brands that use high-quality materials and offer different fits – from skinny jeans to relaxed styles – so you can find the perfect pair for your body type.

5. Colored Denim

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Colored denim come in a range of bright colors that can add some fun to your outfit while still maintaining that classic look associated with blue jeans. Denim can be dyed pretty much any color.

Colored denim has been a fashion trend for decades, and it’s not going away anytime soon. From vibrant hues to pastel shades, colored denim is the perfect way to add some fun and personality to your wardrobe.

One of the best things about colored denim is its versatility. You can dress it up with a blouse and heels for a night out, or keep it casual with a t-shirt and sneakers for running errands. Plus, you don’t have to stick to just one color – mix and match different hues for a bold look.

When choosing colored denim, consider your skin tone. If you have warmer undertones, go for earthy tones like mustard yellow or burnt orange. Cooler undertones look great in blue-based colors like mint green or lavender.

Another factor to consider when purchasing colored denim is fit. Colored jeans tend to draw attention to your lower half, so make sure they fit well and enhance your body shape.

Colored denim doesn’t have to be limited to pants. You can also find skirts, jackets, shorts, and jumpsuits in bright shades – all of which can add some fun pops of color to any outfit. Finally, colored denim is an easy way to inject some life into your outfits while still looking chic and put-together. Play around with different colors and styles until you find something that feels uniquely you.

6. Distressed Denim

distressed denim fabricPin

Distressed denim has become a popular fashion trend in recent years, with its unique and edgy look that gives off an effortless cool vibe. It is often characterized by frayed edges, holes, fading, and other signs of wear and tear that give it a worn-in feel.

While distressed denim was once associated with punk rockers and rebels, it has since become a staple in many people’s wardrobes. Celebrities and fashion icons alike are seen sporting distressed denim on the runway, red carpet events, and everyday streetwear.

Whether you’re going for a casual or dressed-up look, distressed jeans can be paired with just about anything. A simple t-shirt or sweater can make for a relaxed outfit while pairing them with heels or dress shoes can elevate the style to something more formal.

An advantage of distressed denim is how easy it is to care for. The already worn-out appearance means that any additional rips or tears won’t affect the overall appearance of the jeans too much. Distressed denim comes in various styles including skinny fit, bootcut, boyfriend fit among others. They also come in different washes like light washes which are perfect for summer looks while dark washes work well for fall/winter outfits.

7. White denim

white denim Pin

White denim is a versatile and stylish fabric that has been a staple in fashion for decades. This denim is also dyed to achieve the white color.  It’s perfect for summer outfits, but you can wear it year-round with the right styling.

One of the great things about white denim is that it can create an effortlessly chic look when paired with simple pieces like a basic tee or a black blazer. It’s also easy to dress up by adding statement accessories or heels. White denim can be dressed down with sneakers and a casual top for a comfortable weekend look, or dressed up with heels and jewelry for an evening out. It pairs well with bright colors and bold prints, as well as neutral shades like beige and black.

When shopping for white denim, it’s important to consider the fit and quality of the fabric. Look for high-quality materials that won’t become too sheer or stretch out over time. A classic straight-leg or skinny style will never go out of fashion, but there are also fun variations like cropped flares or wide-leg pants.

One thing to keep in mind when wearing white denim is that it does require some extra care to keep it looking pristine. Be sure to follow washing instructions carefully (avoiding bleach) and carry a stain remover just in case!

Types of Denim Washes 

Denim washes are an essential aspect of the fashion industry, and they can drastically change the appearance of the fabric.

Let’s discuss different washes of denim.

1. Acid Wash


This type of wash creates a worn-out look by using chemicals like chlorine or acetic acid to break down the indigo dye on denim fabric. The result is an uneven, faded appearance that looks vintage. Acid Wash Denim: Acid wash jeans were popular in the 1980s but have made a comeback in recent years due to their vintage look.

Today, acid wash denim has made a comeback in fashion, with many designers incorporating this style into their collections. One of the main benefits of acid wash denim is that it adds texture and dimension to your outfit. Another advantage of acid-washed jeans is how comfortable they are to wear. The fabric feels soft and worn-in, making them perfect for casual outings or long walks around town.

You can easily pair them with sneakers or boots for an effortlessly laid-back look. While some people may think that acid wash denim is outdated or too bold, others love how unique they make their outfits appear. If you’re looking for something different from traditional blue jeans but still want something comfortable and stylish, give acid-wash denim a try!

2. Stone Wash

stone wash denimPin

This process involves washing denim with pumice stones to create a distressed effect on the surface of the fabric. The stones rub against the cloth’s surface to create a faded appearance.

The history of stone wash denim dates back to the 1980s when it became popular among young people who wanted a more relaxed and casual style. The trend quickly caught on, and today, stone wash denim is still widely used in fashion.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the environmental impact of producing stone wash denim. Some companies are now using more sustainable methods such as laser technology to achieve similar results without using harmful chemicals or excessive water consumption.

3. Enzyme Wash

stack of jeansPin

Enzyme washed denims are softer compared to raw denim fabrics since it breaks down starches and fibers without damaging them entirely to give them an aged look.

This type of denim wash is a process that involves washing denim fabric with enzymes to achieve a worn-out, distressed look. Enzymes are biological molecules that act as catalysts in chemical reactions. The enzyme wash process begins by soaking the denim fabric in water and then adding specific enzymes to it, such as cellulase or pumice stone.

These enzymes break down the fibers of the denim, causing them to weaken and fray. This gives the fabric a soft feel and creates an attractive faded appearance on the surface. One of the benefits of enzyme wash denim is its eco-friendliness compared to traditional sandblasting techniques used to achieve similar effects. Sandblasting can be dangerous for workers due to exposure to silica dust, but enzyme wash eliminates this risk entirely.

Enzyme wash denim has become increasingly popular because of its versatility and unique finish that can be achieved through different variations of washing times, temperatures, and enzyme types. The result is a wide range of looks from subtle fades and whiskering patterns to more heavily distressed options. This denim wash is found in various styles including jeans, jackets, shorts, skirts, dresses, and even shoes! It’s perfect for creating trendy outfits that are both stylish and comfortable. 

4. Bleach Wash

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Bleach wash gives your denim a uniform white color without removing all pigment from your jeans or jacket; it just fades out some parts more than others creating bold patterns.

A popular trend in the fashion industry, bleach wash involves treating denim fabric with bleach to achieve a faded, distressed look. This technique has been around for decades and is still as popular today as it was in the past.

To create bleach wash denim, manufacturers use different methods depending on the desired outcome. The most common method involves submerging the denim fabric in a diluted solution of bleach and water for a certain period of time. The longer the fabric stays in the solution, the lighter it becomes.

It’s possible to create many different styles and looks, from vintage-inspired jeans to edgy jackets and shorts, with bleach wash denim. It’s also possible to achieve subtle or extreme fades by adjusting how long the fabric soaks in bleach.

One thing to keep in mind when working with bleach wash denim is that it can be tricky to get an even fade across all parts of your garment. This means that if you’re going for a DIY approach, you may need some practice before achieving your desired result.

However, if you don’t want to experiment with using bleach at home, there are plenty of pre-bleached options available on the market. These pre-washed garments have already undergone bleaching processes during manufacturing and are ready-to-wear right out of the box.

Overall, bleach wash denim adds character and uniqueness to any outfit. Whether you opt for pre-bleached or DIY methods, this trend is sure to make a statement wherever you go!

5. Light wash denim

light wash flare jeansPin

Denim processes through a special washing process resulting in it’s faded appearance.
Light wash denim is two shades lighter than medium wash denim, or two to three washes away from being a bleached denim. 

Perfect for creating a casual yet stylish look, light wash jeans have been a popular trend for decades.   Light wash denim is  great for the summer months as it gives off a relaxed vibe.

One of the advantages of light wash denim is its ability to add texture and dimension to an outfit. Its subtle color variations and faded finish help create a stylish contrast with other clothing items like dark jackets or bright tops. Additionally, light wash jeans work well with almost any color or pattern, so you can mix-and-match your wardrobe effortlessly.

6. Medium wash jeans

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Medium wash jeans are at least a shade lighter than dark washes. It is washed and dried more times than a dark wash. Medium wash jeans are more casual than dark jeans, so they are extremely versatile.  Consider it a good middle ground wash to wear to  work but also for all of your casual events. 

7. Dark Wash Jeans

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Dark wash denim is one of the most versatile washes. You can wear it during the day and at night because its hue makes it easy to match with dressy tops.   Dress this versatile fabric up or down, making it a staple in your wardrobe. The dark indigo color gives off a sophisticated and polished look, perfect for any occasion.

Another great thing about dark wash denim is its durability. Due to its darker color, stains are less likely to show up on this type of fabric compared to lighter-wash jeans. Plus, they tend to hold their shape better over time even after multiple wears.

If you’re looking to dress up your dark wash denim, try pairing them with a blouse and heels for an evening out on the town. A blazer can also help add some sophistication to your outfit while still keeping it stylish and comfortable.

Dark wash denim is a timeless classic that never goes out of style. 

Denim is a versatile and durable fabric that has been a fashion staple for decades. From classic blue jeans to trendy acid-washed styles, there are many types of denim available to suit any taste or occasion. Whether you prefer the comfort of stretch denim or the ruggedness of raw denim, investing in quality jeans and denim clothing can last you for years to come. With so many options to choose from, it’s never been easier to find the perfect pair of denim that fits your style and personality.

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