Stitches per Inch: What it is and Why it Matters
One of the main reasons why raw denim continues to be so interesting is the amount of details a designer can build into a pair of jeans. Many jeans seem pretty similar to each other on the surface, but when you break down denim weight, kind of cotton used, synthetic indigo vs natural indigo, texture of the fabric, and the kinds of materials used for stitching, pockets, patches, etc, it can turn into a pretty extensive list of differences across all jeans.
One detail that often goes unmentioned is stitch count. While it’s something most consumers overlook, it’s a detail that all jean-makers and brands spend some time thinking about both aesthetically and structurally when putting together their products.
There are a couple main schools of thought when it comes to deciding on stitch count. A higher stitch count is considered better because it makes a stronger seam. However, it does take more time, skill, and can be more expensive to accomplish. Brands like Roy, Stevenson Overall Co, WH Ranch, and Jack/Knife will have a high SPI (stitches per inch) of around 10-12. Because of the time and costs associated with a higher SPI, many brands will do a slightly lower stitch count that will still make a structurally sound jean in an effort to keep costs down.
There are also many brands that prefer a more classic aesthetic and go for a lower stitch count that is reminiscent of the way vintage jeans were made. Real McCoys, Strike Gold, and Flat Head have jeans that feature an SPI between 5-7. Though the SPI can range pretty drastically, it’s important to note that a lower SPI doesn’t necessarily mean a structurally less sound jean as durability is also dependent on the skill of the person sewing the jeans as well as the quality and type of thread in the stitch.
With that in mind, take a look at how the look of a jean changes with different SPIs and decide for yourself what you like.