In the last years, denim has reinforced its position in the truly luxury premium segment.
Who are the players in this market and what do they offer?
The idea that ‘premium’ is fashionable drives up retail prices of jeans. Behind the scenes, manufacturers skilfully compete to offer even more elaborate models. “Today, the classification ‘premium’ has been overused and therefore we rather speak of jeans with added value”, explains Marion Foret, fashion product manager at Première Vision Paris. “A position within this market segment is above all a guarantee of quality throughout the production process; from the yarn and the dyed and treated cloth, to the quality of the cutting, the making and the trimming.”
In 2005, the premium phenomenon emerged in the United States and Japan, where companies like Cone Millsand Kurabo produce beautiful denim fabrics. Since then, the concept of premium denim has expanded worldwide.
Amongst today’s leading fabric producers are Kurabo, Kuroki, Toray International, Blue Farm, Orta Anadolu, Calik, Bossa and Tavex. For their premium products they all offer several washes and treatments that are done by hand, thus living up to the expectations we may have of excellent jeans, namely: strength (the production has to be flawless) a superb fit and – just like good wine – the quality to improve with age.
A fine example of premium quality is Kuroki‘s Selvedge (a frequently used term these days), that’s been made with an artisanal and manual dyeing process: the denim is dipped at least ten times in natural indigo to create a unique, deep blue colour. Many companies acquire old machines to be able to offer these authentic and inimitable results as well. At Cone Mills for example, denim is woven on old ‘American Draper x3’ machines from the forties. The result? A coloured selvedge that finishes the cloth and offers it a remarkable signature.
Regarding the washings; stone washing with pumice stones could have lasted another ten years if the odds were still in favour of it, but the ozone treatment seems to gain ground these days. This treatment offers an equal effect but above all it uses less water.
Finally, the branded rivets (from Timay & Tempo), leather patches (from Landes Lederwarenfabrik) and the vintage looking metal buttons (Monster Vintage by Metalbottoni) are the finishing touch. It’s a key step for every jeans in this high-end market, where no two models are identical.