Thursday, 17 November 2011
Loomstate fabric is fabric as it comes off the loom. Unsinged, raw, unsanforized, unstabilised, unskewed. For years, this type of fabric has been obscure, almost forgotten. When you wash it, it shrinks, it twists, it gets hairy. It is awkward, ornery stuff, and it fell out of use. Now, I hope, people are starting to love it.
The fabric shown here was spec'd up by me and a certain fabric genius called Ralph Tharpe, for use in a small run of jeans produced by Roy Slaper - you can find more about these, and photos of them around the world, at superfuture (if the site ever gets back up). I'm sure you'll hear more about them here soon, as you will about Cone, the company in North Carolina who made it. Loomstate means that there is no finishing whatsoever to the fabric after it comes off the loom. This is how all denim was produced up to the 1920s, but is unusual today, as even vintage-repro denim tends to have starching or stabilising treatments applied.
This called K87211, and uses a special, Pima yarn for the fill - the white part of the denim that you can see from the inside. This Pima yarn is a resonant, special quantity for fabric fetishists; it is related to Sea Island Cotton, reputedly the finest cotton of all time. The warp yarn, the blue one, was also specially developed, to emulate denim of circa 1915-1920 - tumultuous times in the denim industry, not least because of trade embargos and political upheaval. The warp yarn is dyed with indigo, and by the 1920s, synthetic indigo was fast becoming popular. But synthetic indigo was produced by a German company, and US manufacturers weren't supposed to use it. In 1918, the type of indigo you used was a political decision.
So this loomstate denim already has stories resonating through its warp, and its weft, even before we talk about how it got loomed, and what it got made into. I promise we'll come back to them.