Cotton Jeans vs Denim: What’s The Difference?

(A man and a Woman in Denim) - Cotton Jeans vs Denim: What's The Difference?

In the modern days you would be hard pressed to find someone who has no jeans in their wardrobe, or that has never tried them on, regardless if they are a man or a woman.

The reason for that is quite simple considering that jeans come in so many styles and fits, making them very versatile and easy to style with a number of different tops and footwear.

This also makes it easier for everyone to find exactly what they like and fits them best. Nowadays there are also a variety of colors available, catering to those who enjoy something more in their look as opposed to just washes of blue, black or grey.

However, the biggest contributor to jeans being so popular is their comfort. You can wear jeans to a casual outing or in a more formal event. To trips, on the plan, on the car, practically anywhere, without having to struggle with them or have them be too bothersome after a long wear.

We have gone through numerous styles of jeans in our comparisons and selections as a way to get a better understanding behind the designs available and also how they originated.

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Something we have yet to discuss separate from the style and cut is the material that jeans are usually made of. While many people may be well aware of “denim jeans”, how many of them can actually explain what denim is? Well, that is what we are here for today!

We will be discussing denim jeans and the difference between them and jeans made of cotton. Let’s get started!

1. What is Denim Fabric?

(Two Women in Denim) - Cotton Jeans vs Denim - What is Denim Fabric?

Originating in France, denim is a fabric that has been used in making blue jeans since they first came out.

Before becoming a popular clothing item, jeans were working pants, working overalls as a matter fact.

They were made for those working in mines, which required clothing that would be sturdy and durable, while at the same time comfortable and easy to clean. Like clothing made out cotton, except cotton in itself is not the most durable material.

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That is, unless it is woven right, which is what happens in the case of denim fabric.

Yes, denim is made from cotton fibers that are dyed in, typically, six colors that are a variation of blue or black with white fibers intertwined.

What sets denim apart from other cotton fabrics is its weaving and finish. Unlike most cotton fabrics that are made to be light and breathable by weaving thin cotton fibers in a way that allows air to pass through them, denim is woven from thicker and heavier yarns.

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This is not all, actually. The weaving technique is also quite specific to denim and it is called the twill weave, which consists of diagonally-weaved fibers that are called “wales”.

This weaving technique makes denim far more durable than it would have been if it was made using a plain or satin weave.

2. What is Cotton Fabric?

What is Cotton Fabric?

Cotton fabric is made by weaving cotton fibers together. In short, we mean.

What is interesting about cotton is that the plant itself is waterproof due to being coated in a thick wax-like substance that protects the bolls on the cotton plant from rain.

When harvested and processed to be spun into yarn or used for other purposes, such as cotton balls or cotton pads for example), the wax is chemically removed. This process unveils cotton’s ability to absorb considerable amounts of liquid, which is why it is a material used so widely across different settings.

Aside from its absorption capability, as a fabric, cotton exhibits considerable breathability and can be woven into a number of weights and thicknesses to be used for different purposes, making it one of the most versatile materials.

Its ability to dye easily is another great feature that makes it so suitable for clothing and household textiles.

It absorbs sweat well, is very soft and also hypoallergenic.

Although it is not the most durable material, especially compared to polyester or nylon, or even denim, it is still a durable one. Not to mention that it is sustainable and eco-friendly too.

Now let’s move on to the differences between jeans that are made from denim and those made from cotton, which is an interesting topic in itself because they are technically the same material.

3. Denim Jeans vs. Cotton Jeans

Denim is cotton, as you now know. And, of course, there are cotton jeans on the market besides those made from denim.

So, seeing how these two fabrics are both from the same material, why is there a need to specify one as denim and the other as cotton?

3.1 Weaving – Related Qualities

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As we said previously, while cotton can be weaved in a number of ways, denim relies on the twill weave, which can be either Left hand (LHT) or Right hand (RHT), where the former runs diagonally from right to left and results in softer denim fabric, whereas the RHT weave runs the opposite side, left to right, and is flatter. The Right hand twill is also the most commonly used one.

Due to their weaving, cotton jeans are not as durable as those made from denim, nor do they hold their shape well, meaning that they will wrinkle easily and start to loosen up faster. Another issue is shrinkage, which is due to the fibers being exposed to moisture and high temperatures at the same time that damage the fiber.

Denim does not have these issues as much, in particular high quality denim which can last through years of regular wear without losing much of its shape.

On the other hand, cotton jeans are more breathable than denim ones and they can also be more comfortable precisely because of their weaving, which results in lighter and softer jeans.

Cotton jeans, however, are not very suitable for low temperatures, whereas denim ones are quite insulating and work well in a variety of different weathers and temperatures in comparison to cotton jeans.

3.2 Color and Fading

Cotton Jeans vs Denim: Color And Fading

Another major difference between these two types of jeans is color.

As we mentioned above, cotton dyes quite easily due to its high absorbency. This leaves practically endless possibilities, which is what we are seeing nowadays with jeans in vibrant and eye-catching colors.

Denim is usually in shades of blue, black, grey or entirely white. These are the classic colors of jeans, with indigo blue being the representative color of the original blue jeans.

Washes and fades are also present in both types, but denim jeans are far more commonly seen with them.

Another thing we would like to mention is that neither cotton nor denim jeans hold on to color too well, but denim tends to fade easier, while cotton is more susceptible to high temperatures in this regard.

Denim jeans tend to develop several different fading patterns, which commonly include whiskers and faded lines behind the knee. But honey combs and also streaks along the crotch area can also occur. Cotton jeans are slightly more resistant to these types of fading marks.

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3.3 Care

Lastly, how do they differ in maintenance and care?

Denim is a far more stain and odor-resistant fabric because it absorbs at a lower rate than regular cotton fabric does, which makes it harder for stains to seep through or for the fabric to hold on to body odors.

For this reason, denim jeans require less frequent washing and can tolerate higher temperatures than cotton jeans, although low temperatures are preferable for both.

Cotton jeans, on the other hand, are far more easy to wash as it allows water to penetrate quite easily, which is great for cleaning them well, but not so great considering the risks of them shrinking or the color fading out from frequent washing.

4. Conclusions

Well, this is it for today.

There aren’t quite so many differences between cotton and denim jeans, primarily because the material is the same between the two.

But we hope you now have a better understanding which type you should choose depending on what you are looking for.

See you in the next one!

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