COLLECTION: DENIM

As part of her first job in the fashion industry, Natalie spent a good bit of time in sample rooms—some of them denim sample rooms where new styles of blue jeans were being made every day. She remembers that the sample sewers, who were primarily from Spanish-speaking households, always referred to the yellow/orange thread used to stitch denim as “orinda”—and has used this term for the yellow-orange thread since then. Looking back, she imagines that the term came from the Spanish word “oro”, meaning “gold”.

So, we started wondering: why exactly is most denim stitched using that specific golden thread? The most common story suggests that the practice was started by Levi Strauss & Co., and was directly related to the addition of rivets to jeans.

(But, the story can’t be confirmed because most of the Levi Strauss company records were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.)

ALABAMA CHANIN – COLLECTION: DENIM

In the late 1800s, Jacob Davis came up with the idea of adding rivets to jeans to reinforce stress points, like the back pockets and the crotch—which were often torn or frayed when they were heavily worn. The traditional orange thread was selected to match the color of Davis’ copper rivets. Davis was also behind the patterned stitches on the rear pockets of blue jeans, which also once served a practical purpose. The pockets were once lined with cotton and the stitching (in orange thread, for continuity) kept that lining from bunching up. Even after removing the lining, Levi Strauss kept the identifiable stitching and registered it as a trademark in 1942.

A few items in our most recent Collection include denim-inspired pieces available in Peacock with “orinda” stitching. The Archer Coat, Hattie Skirt, Jean Jacket, and Lucy Skirt all reflect the traditional denim look—and a moment in Natalie’s earliest days as a designer.

ALABAMA CHANIN – COLLECTION: DENIM

3 comments on “COLLECTION: DENIM

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  1. Ginger Annette

    What an innovative idea! – using the heavier weight “orinda” (cool term?) denim thread on indigo cotton jersey. The history of blue jeans has always been interesting to me. I appreciate the practical value of the design decisions, and revisions, through the years. Blue jeans represent garment-making that provides cosmetic appeal AND usefulness, or purpose in design. Learning that even the back pocket stitching had the practical value of keeping the cotton lining in place was intriguing. The current trend of heavy embellishment on the back pockets of blue jeans seems to serve the purpose of drawing attention to a person’s backside (a purpose that would be better UNSERVED most of the time?!).

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    1. Alabama

      Hi Tammy,
      Alabama Fur, as seen on the collar of the Jean Jacket, is an embroidery technique where closely spaced tiny spirals are hand sewn. It is a combination of a backstitch with embroidery floss and with knots exposed on the outside of the fabric, creating the textured effect. Other collection garments featuring the technique include: the Reagan Skirt (http://alabamachanin.com/reagan-skirt), Corrine Jacket (http://alabamachanin.com/corrine-jacket), and Zarah Skirt (http://alabamachanin.com/zarah-skirt).

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