What's The Deal With Lightweight Denim?

More than ever we’ve been seeing demand grow for lighter weight denim options.  We’ve barely been able to keep up with the demand this Spring Summer season.  Why such an increase?  If you’ve been thinking about picking up a pair, or just got some and would like to know more about them, then this article is for you.

  
What’s the difference between heavyweight and lightweight denim? The weight of denim is measured in oz/square yard. (Fun Fact! Even countries on the metric system weigh denim this way instead of grams/square meter. It’s probably because Americans made denim world famous, and the US uses the imperial system.)  When weaving denim, the thicker the yarn fiber used, the denser and heavier the denim will become. Dense heavy fabrics tend to insulate while less dense lighter fabrics allow for better breath-ability. A lightweight denim is generally considered to be 12oz and under. You can find the weight of the denim for each product we offer listed as the first bullet point on our product pages. 
   
From left to right: Lightweight Selvedge - 10oz, 100% Cotton; Natural Indigo Selvedge - 13oz, 100% Cotton; MIJ1 - 15oz, 100% Cotton; Okayama Spirit 1 - 16oz, 100% Cotton; Elephant Denim 1 - 19oz, 100% Cotton; Elephant 4 - 22oz, 100% Cotton.
 
“We’ve been offering lightweight denim for a long time, since almost the beginning of Naked & Famous Denim 10 years ago. At the start, some of the hard core denim guys couldn’t imagine wearing something lightweight, maybe it didn’t seem tough enough. But over the years… More and more people have warmed up to the idea. They’ve discovered that lightweight denim is still durable, but also extremely comfortable to wear on a hot summer day.”  Says Bahzad Trinos, Sales and Product Development at Naked & Famous Denim.
  
Since we released the Naked & Famous Denim SS18 collection, we could barely keep up with the demand. I wondered where this new trend was coming from but as it turns out, wearing lightweight denim isn't a new concept at all. Pioneers digging for gold weren't wearing what we now consider heavyweight denim, though it was marketed as such back in the day. What we now consider lightweight denim was the weight of choice for farmers, minors, industrial and railroad workers. The though the durability of lightweight denim may not match that of a modern heavyweight denim, it's still tough enough for rugged wear.
 
 
Vintage Advertisement for "Extra Heavy 8oz." Denim
  
Heavyweight denim wins the crash test, but lightweight denim takes the gold for comfort.  Since they're less dense, it makes them more airy or breathable. There is little to no break in time because the denim isn't as stiff. It's easy to bend your knees, or crouch down to roll your cuff. Speaking of your cuff.. It's a breeze to roll your lightweights! The fabrication falls and drapes nicely which makes for a cool summer look.
   
Wearing my 9oz Featherweight Selvedge in the Easy Guy fit, size 28. I normally wear a size 24 in the Boyfriend and size 25 in The Skinny. The Boxy Top in Camel Rinsed Oxford, size XS. 
   
 
What about those high contrast fades? Just because the denim is lightweight it doesn't mean you can't achieve high contrast fades. High contrast fades are achieved when there is a wide variance of color from the darkest tone of the denim to lightest most faded part of the denim. Denim made with rope dyed yarns will achieve the highest levels of contrast, as the yarns dyed in a special manner that leaves the center core of the yarn white with a multitude of indigo layers on top. As the indigo layers fade away, they’ll reveal lighter shades underneath.  As a rule of thumb, the darker the denim the higher the potential contrast.  Heavier rigid denim will have thicker whiskers and wear lines while lighter weight denim will produce thinner lines.
 
From left to right: Lightweight Selvedge - 10oz, 100% Cotton; Elephant Denim 4 - 22oz, 100% Cotton.
  
 
Are lightweight jeans too cold for the winter? I get this question a lot in store. It's a more personal question than you think. I answer this question the same way I reply to "How will these fade?", "It depends".  It's freezing outside so you layer up, but you don’t actually spend a lot of time outside, and when you arrive to work or school, the building is pumping heat all day, and you wind up uncomfortable. If this sounds like you, lightweight denim is the answer.

 

 

 My favorite lightweight jeans now available at Tate + Yoko

 

9oz Antique Selvedge
Available in Men's Weird Guy, Easy Guy, Super Guy.
Women's The Boyfriend, The Classic.

Naked & Famous Denim

 

Hemp Blend Selvedge
Available in Men's Super Guy.

Naked & Famous Denim

 

Featherweight Denim
Available in Men's s Super Guy.

Naked & Famous Denim

 

Sunrise Selvedge
Available in Men's Super Guy.

Naked & Famous Denim

 

11oz Stretch Selvedge
Available in Men's Weird Guy, Super Guy, Easy Guy.
Women's The Boyfriend, The High Skinny, The Skinny, The Overalls.

Naked & Famous Denim

 

11oz Indigo Selvedge
Availalbel in Women's The Classic.

Naked & Famous Denim

 

 

Through thick and thin,

Cierra

4 comments

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Paola Lamb

Hi, I’m a denim head who has continually been breaking denim bans since 2011(!), and have pages of lists of every single pair I’ve owned since then…I’ve had 4 pairs of N and F so far
Leggy Girl Cashmere denim-23
Leggy Girl 11oz Super Slub denim
(mystery pair)Rich blue denim Skinny Girl-23
Glow in the Dark-24

My best fit is Leggy Girl in 23 as I’m very skinny due to illness although I eat a lot and have long skinny legs-I wish you would do that again!
My doctor always asks about my jeans-he loved the Glow in the Dark, even though they were loose on me…I’m currently rotating 5 pairs but concentrating on 2 lightweight pairs as for once England is warm!Usually I can wear 21oz(bespoke) in the summer-my best ever jeans were bespoke grey Italienne silk denim, which I wore into nothing-my dream N and F would be the silk denim you did in Leggy Girl size 23- I look forward to my next pairs of N and F(I bulk buy!), and will check out your current collection now…

Cierra

When it’s time to come up with an idea for a topic, I ask myself “What’s a question that’s frequently asked and not easy to answer?”. This exercise helps me come up with a more interesting topic for you guys, the readers, but it’s also an excuse for me to dive in to a topic I want to know more about. You’re right, there is so much to learn, so much information out there…. As long as you’re curious it’s impossible to know everything. Thanks for the kind words friends :) – Cierra

rudy

yesh jesse! i feel you !
i always got ignored by online denim shop when i asked about question like this
i guess nobody cares about it, denim shop just want to make sales while the customer especially a denim heads want to know more about their hobbies!

Jesse

Thanks for sharing your deep expertise! I feel like I’m going to become an expert by reading. This is the type of stuff that in the past could only be learned through apprenticeship, but through the miracle of the internet…! I admire your passion. It’s inspirational.

I managed to snag an 8 oz. Featherweight N&F denim jacket on clearance, and man, it is so perfect for cool summer moments, and more specifically for indoors. I get way chilled with the A/C blaring, and this cuts the chill. It also looks great with shorts and fits in with business casual. Shirt, tie, denim jacket—professional but edgy, man—look out for my wild eyes.

This article has me on the lookout for some lightweight (8 oz or less) jeans with a bit of stretch, though. That would be the perfect summer denim for me (stay cool but keep the mosquitoes off my legs when shorts won’t cut it, and keep the A/C off my legs too).

Sorry to ramble on. Thanks again! Keep writing about stuff!

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