I'm admittedly a sucker for terminology, and as much as I love learning the definitions and origins of menswear nomenclature, it bugs the hell out of me when people (especially professionals) get it mixed up! Sure, in the big scope of things, it's not the end of the world, but as a personal pet peeve, I'll keep trying to shed light on the correct classifications as much as possible.
With that in mind, today I want to take a look at a common misnomer, and the distinction between 'denim' fabric and 'jeans' trousers.
Pretty regularly, the two terms are kind of jumbled together, when there is actually a pretty significant difference between the two - and it's not even that the terms aren't interchangeable. In fact, they refer to two completely different categories.
As I alluded to above, 'denim' refers to a fabric, while 'jeans' refers to a cut of pants.
Denim is merely a sturdy cotton twill fabric woven with (traditionally) indigo warp threads, and undyed, white weft threads that provide the signature color and fading of denim fabric. Beyond that, the fabric (and terminology) is not limited to pants at all, but can be applied to literally anything, from shirts to jackets to ties to even shoes, and even inside the 'pants' category, it can be used to make traditional 'jeans' or more formally cut trousers, or even the dreaded 'jorts'.
|Denim, not jeans. Notice the fabric - and the fact that they aren't pants.|
|Jeans, not denim. Notice the five-pocket styling and riveted seams, but canvas fabric.|