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Chambray vs. Denim Apparel

Due to their different coloring and materials, denim and chambray are very similar. The sort of weave utilized to design the cloth is the fundamental distinction between the two. Continue reading to learn more about their varied qualities, costs, durability, composition, and how to style them both.

A picture of two man with a smile on their faces.When we talk of quality and durable apparel, you will never miss a spot for Denim or Chambray. These incredible fabrics are famous worldwide for their superior characteristics compared to other fabrics. In the U.S., Denim is inseparable from its history and legacy of the American style.

From classic deep blue jeans to jean jackets and bags, Denim as a fabric has managed to dominate the fashion industry worldwide. Denim and Chambray are quite similar due to their distinct coloring and material. The main difference between the two is the type of weave used to design the fabric.

But how can you easily identify them? Which of these two fabrics is better? Stick along for a detailed insight into their different properties, cost, durability, composition, and how to style both of them.

But first!

What is Denim?

It is a type of fabric made from cotton and can be identified by its unique blue color. Like most people, you might already consider yourself familiar with Denim. Its fame and popularity mean that many people have tried out or owned at least a pair of jeans, shirt, or jacket.

If this sounds like you, then you can attest to the fabric’s superior characteristics. It is made with a twill weave, which means that the fabric’s warp alternates under and over the two weft threads forming diagonal lines.

Technically, although twill weaves are most likely to fray, they are the most preferred option because they can change and hold the desired shape better than other weaves.

Related: 6 Jean (Denim) Dress Styles for that Casual Dress Style

History of Denim

Close up view waist of the denim.Denim jeans originated in 1873 when Jacob Davis and Levis Strauss were patented for introducing rivets on denim pants. Its origin traces back to Nimes, France, where it was accidentally invented by French textile manufacturers when trying to copy Italian fabric. Denim comes from the phrase “Serge de Nimes”, which means “Twill from Nimes”. 

The fabric was popularized by Davis and Strauss, who sold it to gold miners on the West Coast. It quickly became a fabric of choice for anyone looking for low-maintenance pants. Since then, Denim has been recognized worldwide as a must-have fabric for anyone.

What is Chambray?

Typically, Chambray fabric can be described as a natural fiber material that is linen and cotton. Like Denim, Chambray originated in France and has been around since the 1500s. The name is an English variation of a town in France known as “Cambrai”, where the fabric originated from. The traditional designs were made of blue and white threads and 100 percent cotton fibers.

Chambray was quite popular among French workers who wore denim pants, which led to the term “blue-color”. The plain weaves used to make the fabric are combined with cotton fibers to form a lightweight and breathable fabric. It is, sometimes, confused with Denim from afar. However, they are soft, thin, and lightweight as compared to Denim which is stiff, thick, and heavy.

For a lightweight material with good breathing capability and looks great on almost any occasion where you need to look good without breaking the bank, you can never go wrong with chambray apparel.

History of Chambray

A man and woman walking together at the park wearing matching chambray.As mentioned earlier, Chambray was created in the 1500s in Cambrai town in France. Due to English influence, the term was changed to Chambray. Like Denim, the fabric also has a special place within the American culture. The fabric was quite famous among the American working-class men.

Much like Denim, the fabric was famous for its design and durability. The U.S Navy also adopted chambray shirts in the First World War for their breathability and ability to be worn for many days at a time.

How are they Different?

Now that you know the definition and brief history of the two fabrics, how do they differ in terms of color, texture, or fiber type? Here is a breakdown of their different characteristics.


A photo of denims texture.This is perhaps one of the best ways to distinguish between the two. Chambray is relatively lighter and softer due to its plain weave compared to Denim’s twill weave, which makes it feel more stiff and rough.

Technically, the type of weave greatly affects a fabric’s durability, which also contributes to its use. For instance, Denim is worn all year round, even during winter, as compared to Chambray which might not be suitable during the cold seasons. 

Fiber Type

Unlike texture, there is no difference in the type of fiber used in the manufacture of Denim and Chambray. Both fabrics are made from cotton, which is generally durable and breathable. The only thing that makes Denim and Chambray different is the weaving. 

Today, you might find some denim apparel made of 99% cotton and 1% spandex to make them slightly stretchy. 


A photo of denims' color.One of the main things contributing to the fabric’s similarity is the color. They are both made in the traditional dark blue color — the color results from the warp thread that is dyed blue before weaving. Even so, the weft thread remains white and can be seen from the inside of the fabric. 

The original Chambray is lighter in color and texture than Denim. Nonetheless, many manufacturers today are designing denim and chambray apparel in different colors, making it hard to distinguish them from afar. 


Both fabrics are quite durable as compared to other types. However, the durability of the fabric is determined by the type of weave. Chambray is made using a plain weave, making it lightweight and breathable. However, it is quite durable. Denim, on the other hand, is made of twill weave. 

As compared to the vertical weaving in the making of chambray fabric, Denim integrates a diagonal pattern that results in a stronger and thicker material. For this reason, Denim is much heavier and more durable than Chambray. 


A photo of jeans money on the pocket.

Since Denim is made of cotton, which is a very abundant material, the cost of owning Denim or Chambray apparel is quite low. Chambray tends to be a bit cheaper because the fabric is relatively thinner. 

What’s more, the cost of either fabric will also depend on the brand. Some brands are well-established and will fetch quite a good price. Customized apparel might also fetch a higher price. 


Denim and Chambray are undoubtedly one of the best fabrics that have, over the years, baffled many due to their similarity. They are quite similar in appearance and history but are pretty different, as you have already learned from the above review. Chambray is far more versatile than Denim and can be used in different seasons and occasions. 

On the other hand, Denim is a great option when you want a more rugged look or a fabric that will mold to your shape. But as different as they might seem, you can always rely on them when you want to look good without breaking the bank.