Exploring the Nuances: A Comparison of Dry Selvage and Dry Ace Selvage
The aging of denim imparts unique stories onto each pair of jeans. As time passes, the jeans adapt and reflect the wear they are subjected to. Yet, this evolution isn't merely a transformation forced upon the fabric by the wearer; it also mirrors the craftsmanship and artistry invested in crafting the denim. In this article, we explore the differences between two of our most notable Japanese selvage denim fabrics – Dry Selvage and Dry Ace Selvage – highlighting their unique attributes and their impact on distinct aging properties.
Originating from Japan, a country celebrated for its century-old indigo dyeing heritage and a unique shift within its denim industry from utilitarian roots to artisanal craftsmanship, these denim fabrics embody a rich legacy of knowledge and meticulous skill. Dry Selvage, integral since our establishment in 2001, holds a significant place in the evolution of Nudie Jeans. On the other hand, Dry Ace Selvage, introduced in 2019, brings a distinct ruggedness. Both stand as a testament to the pinnacle of Japanese denim craftsmanship and represent two of the finest examples we have encountered.
The Indigo Nuances
At first glance, Dry Selvage and Dry Ace Selvage may appear akin in their raw forms – a commonality among many dry denim varieties. However, careful examination unveils nuances. The color of the warp yarns sets them apart. Dry Selvage exhibits a subtle greyish-green undertone, while Dry Ace Selvage boasts a deep blue shade tinged with red. This discrepancy arises from their dyeing methods. Dry Ace Selvage follows traditional practices with multiple dips in pure indigo dye, while Dry Selvage employs a modern approach involving black sulfur dye as a base, followed by multiple indigo dye dips. These subtle variations result in subtle color "casts" – redcast for Dry Ace Selvage and greencast for Dry Selvage.
Visual and Tactile Distinctions
Upon closer visual inspection, a distinction in the contrast between the indigo warp and undyed weft becomes evident in the two fabrics. Dry Ace Selvage showcases a slightly more irregular and pronounced display of the weft compared to Dry Selvage. This variation can be attributed, in part, to factors such as yarn thickness, yarn irregularities, and the interplay between these elements. A glance at the reverse side of the fabrics reveals an intriguing detail: the weft yarns exhibit distinct colors. The weft yarns of Dry Ace Selvage are pristine white, imparting a cleaner appearance, while those of Dry Selvage adopt a beige hue. This difference in weft yarn colors contributes to a moderated contrast between the warp and weft in Dry Selvage. Furthermore, the beige weft color influences the overall perception of Dry Selvage's color palette, enhancing its greyish-green undertones. Notably, the choice of beige for the Dry Selvage weft yarns draws inspiration from vintage denim crafted from naturally brown-hued cotton.
When evaluating the tactile qualities of the fabrics – the sensations they evoke when held – a distinct contrast emerges. Dry Selvage imparts a pronounced stiffness and smoothness to the touch, while Dry Ace Selvage offers a slightly softer, thicker, and more texturally intricate feel. This difference in tactile experience can be attributed to the varying levels of starch applied to each fabric and the differences in yarn thickness and irregularities. The additional starch on Dry Selvage lends it the propensity to develop sharp creases. Conversely, Dry Ace Selvage utilizes coarser yarns in both warp and weft, woven under lower tension, resulting in a thicker and more substantial texture.
However, perhaps the most noteworthy divergence lies in the texturally irregular nature of Dry Ace Selvage, achieved through the incorporation of yarns with pronounced irregularities, commonly referred to as "slubs." Slub is a distinctive characteristic of "ring-spun" yarns, a traditional spinning technique that holds historical significance in the context of selvage denim production. These slub irregularities were historically influenced by technological limitations, contributing to unique aesthetic qualities. In Dry Ace Selvage, slub thickness and length are notably more prominent and varied compared to Dry Selvage. This emphasis on irregularities imparts a rustic appearance to Dry Ace Selvage, reminiscent of denim from the turn of the 20th century.
The interplay between the warp and weft yarns, along with the incorporation of slubs, creates a "crosshatch" texture in Dry Ace Selvage. On the other hand, Dry Selvage also features slub yarns but to a lesser degree. In Dry Selvage, the warp yarns exhibit longer and thicker slubs compared to the weft, resulting in a slightly streaky texture. The more uniform nature of Dry Selvage's yarns, coupled with its weaving process, contributes to its denseness and its ability to form pronounced creases.
Aging and wear marks
While many of the facets we've examined in the dry denim comparison may initially appear subtle and challenging to discern, the distinctive properties of the denim become increasingly apparent as the jeans age. The natural process of wear leads to abrasion that gradually removes indigo, exposure to sunlight causes indigo bleaching, and washing contributes to both abrasion and the removal of excess indigo, accompanied by slight shrinking and distortion of the denim. Each of these factors significantly influences the aging trajectory of the denim.
The ultimate outcome is contingent on variables such as how the jeans are worn, the frequency of washing, and the timing of the first wash.
One of the most notable distinctions between Dry Selvage and Dry Ace Selvage lies in the pronounced contrast of wear marks exhibited by Dry Selvage. This contrast is a consequence of the dyeing technique, fabric construction, and the liberal application of starch. Wear marks, including honeycombs and whiskers, manifest as sharp and vivid. This characteristic remains evident throughout all phases of Dry Selvage's aging process. Conversely, Dry Ace Selvage also presents contrasting wear marks, albeit not as contrasting. Due to its lower starch content, somewhat greater thickness, and exclusive use of indigo dye, the wear marks on Dry Ace Selvage tend to exhibit less pronounced definition.
Evolution of Texture with Washes
Upon closer examination, the pronounced yarn slub of Dry Ace Selvage contributes to a vibrant texture. When the jeans receive minimal or no washes, these slubs tend to be predominantly vertical. However, with an increased number of washes, the warp and weft undergo slight rearrangements, further enhancing the crosshatch texture. In contrast, Dry Selvage begins with thinner yet evident vertical slubs. While this vertical slub pattern persists, prolonged wear leads to reduced contrast. With more washes, both fabrics undergo minor alterations in the arrangement of warp and weft yarns, leading to a granular texture referred to as “salt and pepper.” This textural phenomenon arises from the interplay between warp and weft slubs – where thicker yarn sections intersect, they protrude from the fabric, while thinner sections cause the fabric to cave in, creating a three-dimensional surface. Consequently, dye loss occurs where the fabric protrudes, and dye retention happens where it caves in. This texture is predominantly visible where the denim experiences less abrasion. Due to disparities in yarn slub characteristics, Dry Ace Selvage exhibits a more rustic salt and pepper texture, while Dry Selvage showcases a more refined rendition.
Distinct Aging Trajectories
Both Dry Selvage and Dry Ace Selvage offer exceptional aging qualities, each with its own unique appeal. Dry Selvage transforms with pronounced contrasts, evolving into a refined ring-spun character accompanied by muted blue hues. In contrast, Dry Ace Selvage ages gracefully, acquiring a rustic, slubby ring-spun character that gradually softens into brilliant blue tones. These Japanese denim marvels are remarkable in their own right, and their complementary attributes create a unique synergy. It's this synergy that makes us insist on offering them side by side.