In their main factory, workers, huge washing machines tumble jeans with pumice gravel; workers in face masks slip jeans legs over inflated balloons, which then move robotlike between sets of abrasive plastic brushes that scrub the denim to give it a worn look. Other workers brush creases into the jeans that, because they fan out from the fly, are called whiskers.
The work elsewhere is more labor-intensive. Here, workers apply discoloring chemicals with brushes; there, they use hand-held guns to blast jets of quartz sand. Assembly line workers hold the edges and cuffs of jeans to spinning abrasive pegs that wear them down or make holes in them.
Kentucky distressing factory where skilled laborers expertly age denim
for the benefit of high-end designers.
Workers distress the denim using razor blades, sandpaper, hairdryers and
sandblasters. Wrinkles and creases are created, held in fabric memory
with resin to create "behind-the-knee crumples."
Some apply embroidered designs, others rhinestones, still others stitch patches over holes they have just cut. Even though most of the jeans look thoroughly ruined by the time they leave his factory.
Photos: David Friedman