Monday, 19th September, 2016

What Is Selvedge Denim? An Introduction & Brief Guide

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A term you may or may not have heard when buying jeans is selvedge and selvedge denim, but what does it mean? If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I love this type of denim, own a few pair of jeans which are selvedge, and it’s been my preference for a number of years.

What Is Selvedge Denim?

Selvedge simply means Self Edge. It’s all to do with the way that denim is manufactured, and the type of looms which are used. Shuttle Looms are what are used when making selvedge denim. They produce tighter woven strips of fabric, which are self-finished which prevents fraying, curling or unravelling. Shuttle Looms are not as economical and slower than their counter part, so unflavoured for mass producing denim. Their counterpart is projectile looms, mass production is a lot faster and cheaper, it is unfinished and frayed until it’s stitched, usually using an overlock stitch.

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Is Selvedge Denim Better Than Regular Denim?

Usually, yes. Since the whole process is more time consuming and expensive, the quality of a pair of selvedge denim jeans is usually higher. However this is not always the case. Quality is quite subjective, there are other things to take into consideration, such as the fit, weight and quality of the overall finish of the final product. I picked up a pair of H&M Selvedge jeans which I thought were brilliant quality, not only for their cheap price, but were probably better than a more prestigious pair of non-selvedge jeans. When you pair up selvedge with a good brand like Nudie Jeans, great things happen. My Nudie Selvedge Jeans are one of my favourite pairs of denim, they’re premium and will last a hell of a long time.

I say usually, because there can be exceptions to that rule. It had a bit of a resurgence, a lot of high street and budget brands are showcasing their offerings. I tried out a pair from ASOS and was not impressed at all. At £40 they were on the low end of denim of any kind, but when you hear the word selvedge you think of luxury, and these were definitely not that. I have plenty of plain old regular denim which were better quality, fit, feel and finish than those.

Is Selvedge Denim The Same As Raw Denim?

No. Raw denim, which is sometimes called dry denim, is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when the denim has not gone through a wash or been treated, and when you buy it from the shop and get it home, it’s pure, raw, and will evolve over time. A lot of denim connoisseurs love dry denim because it’s like owning a living piece of fashion; It will change over time depending on your own personal usage, and you can wash it whenever you like, which should be something like 6-12 months after you’ve worn them in.

The opposite of this is washed denim. This process means that they’re already had some dye taken out through the wash, they’ll have shrunk a little bit, and by the time you get them home they’ll probably remain much the same in their lifetime; There may be changes, but these will be far smaller and less noticeable than raw denim.

Selvedge denim can be used in either raw or washed pairs of jeans. I personally own a pair of washed denim from PRPS, and I really like them as a smart pair of jeans. Dry denim is quite coveted, but is harsh, and takes a while to break in, and even then may never become as soft as washed denim, so personal preference can take precedence in this case.

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Not All Selvedge Is The Same

As mentioned above, not all selvedge denim is the same, just like everything else you can get good and bad from different brands and menswear fashion labels. There’s different denim from different places, with Japanese being touted as one of the more premium.

Don’t Forget The Weight And Fit

Selvedge denim is just the raw material used to create the jeans, you’ve also got to think about the fit and weight of the denim. Denim weight varies a lot, and can be considered one aspect of quality, but it comes down to preference too. The weight is usually measured in oz per square yard, so more is heavier. A pair of light jeans will be under 12oz, with 12-16oz mid-weight and everything above that, 16-32 very heavy weight. You’ll usually find a pair of jeans being 11 – 16oz, and most brands do not advertise the weight of their denim.

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How Do I Know If It’s Selvedge?

The most obvious way is to roll up the leg and see if you can see the strip. A common name for this is red line selvedge, because of the red thread which you can see in the strip, although the colour can be different, red line is widely used. If you own a pair it’s fashionable to turn up your jeans and show off your selvedge, with this known, a lot of jean makers create there selvedge jeans with longer legs, in anticipation that they’ll be rolled up.

Verdict

I love selvedge denim, and I think that everyone should experience a really good pair of jeans. It’s one item of clothing that you should wear quite a lot of, the same as a favourite jacket or pair of shoes, and can last a number of years. Good selvedge denim is usually expensive, but it should be seen as an investment because of it’s longevity and timelessness. Don’t forget to check out my five pair of denim you need guide, and feel free to check out more fashion tips to see what you need to go with your selvedge denim.

Favourite Brands & Shopping List

There’s a lot of brands which do selvedge denim, you can visit your favourite brick and motor shops or online sites for brands, or go to their official sites and check out their offerings for the season. Here are a couple of the big names:

Denim Brands

Nudie Jeans

PRPS

Edwin

Levis

A.P.C

Evisu

Online Stores

Selfridges

MR Porter



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