Wiki home » Denim Vocabulary: Must-Know Denim Terms

Every business has its own vocabulary. A specialised language made up of technical terms that outsiders often don’t understand but are expected to be mastered by anyone who’s in that particular business.

Denim has its own vocabulary too. Below are some of the most commonly used terms. Each entry is explained briefly – you can read more by clicking the link (the term itself).

Arcuate on Levi’s jeans

Prefer to listen?

In episode 13 of the Denimhunters Podcast, Thomas explains 18 terms from the vocabulary listed on this page.

Listen in the embedded player above or on Apple PodcastGoogle PodcastSpotify, and Stitcher.

Arcuates –  patterns of stitching on the back pockets of jeans, also known as back pocket signatures

Bartack – stitches that reinforce stress points of jeans

Chain stitch – a type of stitching with one continuous thread that is looped back on itself

Cotton plant

Cotton – a natural fibre from the fruit of the cotton plant

Denim – a type of woven twill fabric, usually made from cotton

Denimhead – someone who’s extraordinarily passionate about denim

Denim weight (oz.) – denim is measured in weight of ounces per square yard

Dyeing with indigo

Dyeing – the process of adding colour to yarn

Fades – the colour differences in denim that’s been worn and washed (or pre-washed)

Indigo – the colour that makes blue jeans blue

Jeans – also called ‘blue jeans,’ these are trousers made from denim

Raw denim – denim that hasn’t been washed or treated


Rivets – pieces of metal found at the pocket corners of jeans with the purpose of strengthening these stress point

Roping effect – the abrasion on jeans hems sewn with chain stitching

Sanforization – is a finish of pre-shrinking fabric before it is made into a garment

Selvedge denim

Selvedge denim – denim woven on shuttle looms, which is recognised by the self-finished edges of the fabric

Slubs – slubs are thickenings in yarn that result in a desired unevenness in the colours of denim

Warp and weft – are the names of the two yarns used to weave denim

Whiskers – horizontal and diagonal faded creases on the thighs of jeans

Visit our buying guides before your next purchase. We guide you to the best raw selvedge jeans, denim jackets, heavy flannels, T-shirts, denim shirts, and more.

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