What Is Stretch Denim?

By Megan Richardson

Jeans have become a staple of closets. There are different colors, cuts and styles. Stretch denim is known for its comfort and ability to conform to the body.

What Is Stretch Denim?

Stretch denim is made by combining elastan fiber with cotton. Spandex and Lycra are two of the most commonly used elastics. This is what gives the denim its stretch.

History of Stretch Denim

Spandex was first created in 1959 by Joseph Shivers, a chemist. The elastic was immediately incorporated in the fashion industry, and in the 1970s it was combined with denim. Today, every jeans manufacturer has its own version of stretch denim.

Why It's Popular

Stretch denim jeans have the ability to conform to your body's shape each time you put them on. With most denim, it takes time to "wear in" a pair of jeans so they fit perfectly. The elastan fiber makes the jeans stretch, so they can fit right every time.

Cons of Stretch Denim

While regular denim takes less time to wear in than stretch denim, regular denim lasts much longer. The elastan fibers are prone to breakage, making the jeans lose the stretchiness that makes them fit so well. In addition, stretch denim usually frays sooner at the bottom of the pant legs.

Optimum Amount of Stretch

When you inspect the labels inside stretch denim jeans, you will see that each pair has a percentage of stretch. It can range from 1 to 4 percent. A lower percentage is used in dressy jeans, and a higher percentage indicates a more comfortable, casual jean.

How To Care for Stretch Denim Jeans

How you care for stretch denim depends on the particular brand of jeans. Most pairs can be machine washed, but bleach is not permitted. Some pairs can be machine dried, but others need to be air dried.