Or – as long as it’s black it’s black? Nope!

This whole thing started with me ordering a pair of Topshop jeans (see above), loving the cuff with the white yarn indigo thread. I thought it was such a cool detail and elevated the whole look of the jeans (see below).

But what I actually received was a pair of black “jeans” (?) / twill pants with no contrast whatsoever at the inside of the denim. Meh and blah. Sent them back.

So here it was again – that dilemma that has been bothering me for years now. Why is it that most of the time when looking for black jeans, we find black “twill pants” instead of what I call “real black denim jeans”.

You might think that this is a rather frivolous subject, but let me assure you, it is NOT. Judging by feedback’s and e-mails from fellow denim lovers, this seems to be a real issue for many of us.

I went ahead and asked “my personal” three denim gurus for an explanation.

Adriano Goldschmied: What’s the best way to describe the difference?

“In general people do not have the knowledge about what the difference between dyed black and black denim is. They just look at the color.

Black jeans are done with the same construction and yarn as the regular denim, with the look of “real” jeans. Whereas the twill – that is another planet.”

Maurice Malone, founder and owner of Williamsburg Garment Factory makes it short and to the point:

“Say black denim jeans.

There are two types of black denim, over-dyed (black black) is when the white yarns have be dyed black.

If you what black denim with a white filling, make sure to say “black denim with a white filling”.  And to make extra-sure, say no twills or black colors.”

Scott Morrison, founder and creator for New York based 3×1 brand gives us a real interesting insight:

“The difference between black denim and a black twill pant can be simple, or complicated, depending on whom you’re buying it from.

Technically, ‘denim’ is a mid-to-heavyweight ’twill’ … usually a 11-15 oz. 3×1 Right-Hand Twill to be specific. 3×1 RHT’s are the most common type of denim woven for jeans and are most notably recognized by the indigo or in this case, black yarn-dyed face (warp yarns) combined with a traditionally natural or ecru colored (weft yarns) which is found on the back or inside of your favorite jeans.

But in today’s day and age, most consumers think of a ’twill’ being a lightweight stretch material or even something like a legging. This is to say that the twill being used has a less obvious twill line, in most cases a ‘flat face’, which is to say there is little to no texture from weaving, and it’s woven much more tightly using smaller yarns. Many brands consider this a ‘jean’ simply because it’s sewn into a traditional 5-pocket silhouette. So, if you’re looking for a black ‘jean’ that really feels like a ‘jean’, you want to look for something with an obvious twill line, ideally a 3×1 RHT, and make sure it’s 10.5 – 13 oz.” (see image below, taken at the 3×1 Soho store)

Rounding up here a few examples of black jeans with white yarn:

for the guys:

Levi’s Made & Crafted, Original Fit jeans, Williamsburg Garment Company Black Selvedge Raw Denim American Made Jeans – GRAND ST, Naked & Famous Weird Guy Stretch Selvedge

for the ladies:

3×1 W3 Straight Authentic Crop, Tortoise Dory High Rise Tapered Crop Jeans

All black jeans with dyed yarn:

for the guys:

Topman Skinny Stretch jeans, Triarchy Slim Black Jeans

for the ladies:

Williamsburg Garment Factory High Waisted Black Denim American Made Jeans – UNION AVE, RE/DONE Stretch High Rise Ankle Crop, NYDJ Curves 360 Shape Slim Straight Leg Jeans

And just one last comment from Scott Morrison which I think says it all:

“Just because it’s a 5 pocket style, doesn’t make it a pair of jeans.” –  Referring to stretch, spandex, nylon, whatever, pants that are falsely called jeans.”

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