How a Pair of Jeans is Made
There’s a long distance from cotton to jeans, a road which every pair of jeans has travelled down. If you’ve ever wondered how a bale of cotton is transformed into pairs of jeans, you’ve come to the right place.
Cotton is picked from fields, then processed and packed into tightly packed bales. After being inspected the cotton is carded, where it is cleaned and the cotton threads are disentangled, straightened, and gathered into slivers. Spinning machines twist and stretch these cotton slivers, forming yarn, some of which is dyed with chemically synthesised indigo dye so the colour lasts longer. After dyeing the yarn is “slashed”. In this process it is coated with sizing (a starchy substance) to make the threads stronger and stiffer. The dyed and white yarn is then woven on large looms, where blue threads that form the warp are packed closer together than the white ones, which form the weft. The resulting cloth is blue – blue denim.
After it has been woven, denim is ready for finishing, where it is brushed to remove loose threads and lint, and skewed to prevent it from twisting and preshrinking. Now the denim cloth is stacked 100 layers thick, and cut with high speed cutting machines into pieces to be incorporated in jeans designs. A pair of blue jeans is made from ten different pieces of denim, sewn together on the assembly line to form the pockets, leg panels, waistband and belt loops.
Next the jeans are washed, prewashing being done in industrial detergent to makes denim softer. Stone-washing is another popular wash, which gives a faded look. This can be done with different sized stones, smaller stones fading jeans more evenly, while larger stones give a more uneven texture and lines. Designers can play with this process, and the denim can also be sprayed with sand or chemicals during the wash process to create a worn-out appearance.
Jeans are usually made out of 100 per cent cotton, although types of jeans can also contain synthetic fibres. One is stretch jeans, which have are composed of 3% elastane to make them stretchy. Rivets are made of copper, while the zippers, snaps, and buttons are made of steel. Labels can be made out of cloth, leather or plastic, and are embroidered with cotton thread.
A pair of jeans is finished by being pressed in large pressing machines, after which they are boxed according to their style, colour, and size. The manufacturing process produces byproducts, which are treated according to their biodegradability. Biodegradable substances can be discarded in the natural environment, while non-biodegradable components (such as starch and dye) must be processed in compliance with all relevant regulations of the country where they are produced.
So that’s the journey of a pair of jeans from the cotton field to the store, to your legs.