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What Is Selvedge Denim?

Nov 30, 2021

What is Selvedge Denim?

Selvedge denim is a premium denim. It is woven on old shuttle looms. This is how the original denim was made.

It is named after the finished edge of the denim, which is made on old looms and finished with a white and red line to stop the fabric from unraveling.

Why does it cost more?

The shuttle looms are half the width of modern looms. And because the way the jean is cut so that the 'Edge' goes neatly up the inside of both legs, it takes twice as much denim in terms of metres to make a selvedge jean.

Plus it takes longer to make, and so it ends up being a lot more expensive to produce. But one thing every denim geek agrees on, it is a more beautiful jean.

Why do I have to break them in?

Most selvedge denim is sold as raw denim. Raw denim means unwashed denim. That is how we sell it.

So there is a 3-6 month breaking them in process. We recommend that you try and not wash them for as long as you can because when you do, all those wrinkles and creases you have put by the way you sit and walk are then imprinted when you wash them. Yes, it is worth it.

At the start, selvedge jeans are difficult to love. They are stiff. They feel like wearing a cardboard box. Some people don't ever get past this stage. 

But it's an investment that will reward you over time. They get better with age. And better. 

Why Japanese Selvedge?

They lead the way. Their ethos is all about Kaizen -The art of continuous improvement. The Japanese have a beautiful obsession with denim. Selvedge denim in particular. 

Sold in underground markets, the very first jeans were brought over to Japan after American soldiers left them behind after World War 2. 

They started copying what the American mills were doing, focusing solely on their technique and kept getting better. 

They saw no great honour in mass appeal. Only in being the best.

The Japanese bought the old shuttle looms off of the mills that went mainstream, so they could keep making the best denim.

The old way.

Using the same methods as they did 50 years ago. The best way. The human way. No automatic button. No simple on switch. There is a person besides these looms at every step of the way. 

And that is why these old shuttle looms make the best selvedge denim.

And the Kuroki Denim mill make the best in the world.

Kuroki is located in the textile rich area of Okayama, Japan. Okayama is seen as the Mecca for the source of high-quality denim. Denim is at the heart of the community. Where the streets are even painted with a white and red selvedge. 

Is it sustainable? 

Kuroki are committed to making their selvedge denim as low impact as they can. 

They take the cotton and dip in to the indigo using an 8x dipping process.  This ensures that none of the chemicals run into the water.

This leaves the water at such a clean level that is drinkable. The water is sent back into the system to water the fields where the cotton is growing. 

Do you have to wear them with a turn-up?

Nope. It comes down to personal choice.

But, that said, most people do.

They are proud to show off that beautiful red-line selvedge. It's a badge of honour for true denim geeks.

How is it different to our organic denim? 

Our selvedge denim comes in at a hard wearing 14 oz compared to our 12 oz organic denim.

Both are incredibly durable but the selvedge denim does just have that slight edge when it comes to the colder months. 

There is also a subtle difference in the colour. Where our organic denim is a classic 'true blue' indigo jean, our selvedge has a green caste to it from the dying process which adds an extra dimension to the colour. 

How do they fade?

Not everything in life gets better with age, but a high quality selvedge denim does.

There is nothing quite like the fade of a selvedge denim.

The transition from raw denim to a beautiful pair of jeans is not a fast one, but it is a rewarding one.

Getting to see a pair of our jeans a few years off the shelf is something that always brings me a sense of joy whenever it happens.

The life that has happened in those jeans, the stories that have been told. You can see it in every mark. 

How do you wash them?

We recommend that you go as long as you can without washing your jeans. The longer you can go, the better they will look (and it's better for the environment too).

But when the time comes to give your jeans their first wash, you are going to want to turn them inside out, wash them solo in lukewarm water with a mild detergent.

To learn more about all the geeky details, read our wash guide


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