Selvedge denim: Everything you need to know
Getting schooled: Selvedge denim
Frank And Oak staff
Usually considered to be of higher quality, this kind of denim is woven on a shuttle loom using one continuous thread, making it stronger and more rigid. It features a narrow, tightly woven band on both edges of the denim fabric which, one, prevents it from unravelling and, two, shows a clean finished look.
Keep it selvedge
The word selvedge comes from “self-edge”, as the edge of the denim has a clean finish and comes on a 32” roll rather than the standard 62” roll. The edge of the denim is actually used in the jeans as an outseam (which you can show off by rakishly cuffing your jeans).
Selvedge jeans are carefully woven on old-fashioned shuttle looms that use one long, continuous thread. Once the thread reaches one side from the other, it loops back creating the selvage strip on one side. The red colored thread is a way mills would show their pride in the product and method, a tradition that continues today.
All denim used to be selvedge, but the booming demand for jeans and denim in the 50s (brought on by movie stars like James Dean) meant jean makers needed a faster, more efficient method to meet demand. They switched from a shuttle loom to a projectile loom. In the late-70s and early 80s Japan went denim-crazy. Japanese brands started scooping up old shuttle looms and producing selvedge jeans themselves. Denim-heads in the states then began looking to Japan for the best selvedge denim.
Selvedge denim is a mix of quality, rarity, nostalgia, and personalization. Generally a pair of selvedge jean will last longer because they feature a denser weave, have more weight to them, provide better creasing over time, and produce a more personalized fit and feel for more character overall. Their substantial weight means they pair perfectly with a rugged tweed suit jacket, and a pair of chunky brogues.
How to care for selvedge denim
To keep your selvedge jeans dark and protect those hard-earned creases, turn the jeans inside out and hand-wash them in the tub with cold water and detergent made for dark clothing. Then hang your jeans to drip dry.
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