Glossary of Denim Terms

There are lots of words and phrases that have specific meanings when it comes to jeans, washes and finishes. Some of the main terms are described below.


A technique for giving denim an aged appearance. Often this is carried out by rubbing pumice stones against the denim fabric.

Acid Wash

This high contrast look is created by soaking pumice stones in bleach and tumbling them with the fabric.


An extended washing process that makes the jeans soft and articificially aged in appearance.


The double stitched logo which appeared on the back pocket of the first Levi’s jeans is the oldest clothing trademark in the world. It was well known on Levi’s jeans in  the 1900s although it wasn’t finally trademarked until 1943.


A term used to describe both original vintage jeans, and those made by trational techniques with material aged accordingly.

Bell Bottoms

Jeans that are slim fitting at the waist and thighs, which flare out from the knees to the ankles in a bell shape.


A chemical containing chlorine which is used to remove colour from denim.

Boot Cut

Jeans that are slim fitting to knee then taper out so that calf length boots can be worn underneath.

Coin Pocket

A small fifth pocket that is inside the pocket on the right front of the jeans.

Garment Dye

A colouring process that dyes the finished item, as opposed to one that dyes the yarn before the denim is woven.


The dark blue colour used to dye traditional blue denim jeans. It was traditionally taken from the indigofera tinctoria plant but is now sythesised artificially.


A process where the denim is dyed again to create a different shade.

Pumice Stones

Rock made from volcanic ash that is used for the “stone wash” process of jeans. Pumice is very light weight but incredibly strong, making it ideal for the process.


The distance, usually measured in inches, from the crotch of the jeans to the waistband. Hence the terms low rise (around 7″), medium rise (around 8″) and high rise (around 9″), but these figures are not exact.

Sand Blasting

Denim is blasted with sand to give it a worn appearance, before being washed.

Skinny Jeans

Jeans which are slim fitting from the waist down and tapered towards the ankle, typically having an opening around the ankle in the region of 12″ circumference.

Stone Washing

The process of removing colour from denim, by washing a large quantity of denim in a huge washing machine along with pumice stones. The longer the wash time, the more colour is removed from the denim.


Horizontal lines of fading around the crotch area and upper thighs.

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