Hands up if you knew that there are different types of denim in the world? You did? Well I didn’t…
At any rate, I have now had a chance to wear both the Grana Japanese denim and their new Turkish denim for a few seasons/months, and I am ready to share a few thoughts, observations, and practical comparisons.
What is denim?
According to the good old Wiki of Pedia, denim is a ‘warp-faced textile’, which means that fibre (cotton in this case) is woven together in an under-over manner (remember my post on the double faced fabric of Everlane’s premium flared skirt; read that here for a pictorial example of warp), producing a durable, hard wearing material.
Indigo denim is the most common form of denim and the base standard colouring for jeans. The identifying characteristic of denim is that the warp (longitudinal) threads are dyed indigo, while the weft is left white. The result is a darker, coloured outer side of the denim, while the transverse side (i.e. inside) remains white.
The addition of elastane ¦ you’ll know by now that I’m not a big fan of multiple mixed fabrics and synthetic fibres, seeing as they have terrible insulating qualities. However, elastane in denim is quite common, especially for women’s jeans. The added stretch means the fabric contours to the body, giving you that familiar feminine silhouette. On the other hand, the addition of elastane also reduces the overall life of the garment; as the elastane ages and loses its spring back quality, the garment will gradually lose its shape.
At one stage, Grana offered two types of Japanese denim – one made of 100% cotton, and the other which includes percentages of nylon and polyurethane. The latter type is their OG.
Japnese denim has a good hand feel – it’s smooth, pliable, and even straight out of the wash doesn’t stiffen up too much. Due to the nylon and polyurethane content, there is the slightest bit of give in the material, which means you don’t suffer every time you bend at the knees.
The 100% cotton version (which I have in their ‘mum jeans’ style and is no longer available) feels slightly stiffer, if a little coarser even, and has no significant give. You need a couple of wears to soften the material and coax it to shape to your body. Only wash these on cold otherwise any heat from the cycle will encourage the cotton to shrink, meaning you have to start all over in warming and stretching the jeans to fit you comfortably again
When wearing Japanese denim, you feel like you are wearing something substantial. The material isn’t pretending to be something else – boom you are wearing denim jeans unequivocally. Wear them when you’re Christmas tree hunting (well, the Australian version at least) to guard against getting completely scratched by bush, when you’re visiting your friend’s overexcited dogs, or just because you want to wear proper jeans.
Turkish denim is the most recent offering in the denim category from Grana, coming in two styles of jeans as well as denim shorts.
Now according to Grana, Turkey is quite the up and coming place for ‘high tech’ denim. I really couldn’t say what’s high tech about playing with the percentages of materials in a fabric mix, but I guess the point is the fabric Grana are sourcing from there is new and improved. And they may be onto something in that regard.
The jeans made from Turkish denim are very lightweight compared to Japanese denim. They are incredibly soft and have a high stretch factor. Specific percentages are 75% cotton, 16% lyocell (a semi-synthetic made from wood pulp), 6% polyester, and 3% elastane.
Reducing the amount of cotton in these jeans means instant reduction in overall weight and honestly, they are a joy to wear. You barely feel any pull on your hips, and thanks to all that stretch you could nearly do the splits in these comfortably (or perhaps a high kick at the least). The fabric profile is also thinner, which results in jeans that are less bulky and perhaps ideal for packing and travel.
The biggest selling point of Turkish denim is the material’s ability to contour to your body. These are leggings but in jeans form. I am loathe to call them jeggings, but perhaps that’s essentially what they are. Perfect for the skinny trend that our bottoms seem to have taken this decade. I find they are also more forgiving in the I’ve-eaten-a-bit-too-much department, and they move beautifully with you.
[I was mean to insert a picture of me modelling the Turkish denim, but the jeans are covered in dog hair and are in the wash. Sorry, I’m sure you will survive without seeing my arse encased in denim]
Observations ¦ whenever I visit Singapore I am always amazed at the number of women who wear jeans there, and I could never understand how they stand the humidity mixed with encased legs. Since wearing Grana’s Turkish denim however, I am starting to understand a little better. These jeans might be light enough for me to pack and trial wearing over there when I next visit. Might. We’ll see.
On the flip side, if you are travelling to more temperate climates, or to places with a high wind chill factor, you may appreciate these jeans less just because they are that much thinner.
I mean, denim is a terrible material for insulating purposes anyway – wind blows right through (believe me, first hand experience) and cotton is hydrophilic. That’s why bush walking warnings always make note that jeans are not suitable pants for going out into inclement weather because in a downpour, jeans will absorb all the water, become heavy when waterlogged, are difficult to dry, and stays cold next to your skin.
Care ¦ wash your jeans inside out, especially the darker washes, to preserve the dye. Cold cycles are preferable unless you purposefully want the jeans to shrink a bit. I always hang my jeans after every wear; don’t floordrobe these puppies unless you want the stink factor to rise rapidly. If you don’t have time to wash them, many people swear by the freezer method to get rid of stink, but an alternative is to flip them inside out, beat vigorously and hang in direct sunlight for a few hours. Personally, I have adopted the less-washing method (yes that is a thing) and I will wash my jeans perhaps 3-5 times in a season unless something catastrophic happens that requires immediate laundering.
*This post does not contain any affiliate links, but if you are curious about Grana and are a first time purchaser, copy and paste this link (www.grana.com/r/5952) into your browser to score 10% off your order. You will also be giving me $29 in store credit.