The GQ Guide To Buying Selvedge Denim
Updated: Jan 21
Selvedge denim is the OG of denim – the name comes from the type of fabric used to make denim jeans before in the ’50s.
They were made on shuttle looms and the jeans made with these looms came with tightly women bands down the side to stop it from fraying and coming apart. These edges were referred to as “self-edge” (because they came out the loom finished), and so came the name “selvedge”.
As the demand for denim became more and more, factories started using projectile looms that didn’t produce the finished edge, but were left as is, making the edge easy to come undone. This was cheaper in terms of production costs, making the jeans more affordable. Hence most jeans found in stores are non-selvedge jeans. Selvedge jeans, because they’re generally harder to find and not produced in high quantities and usually only made by smaller, independent manufacturers, are more expensive. For a long time, Japan was, and still remains, the world’s largest producer of selvedge jeans because that’s where a lot of the old shuttle looms are.
Before getting yourself a pair, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. They’re mostly only available online and are more expensive – They’re more than likely produced by small or heritage brands and produced in small quantities. Because of the online availability, there might be delivery and shipping costs involved and it’s important to note the sizing and fit before finally deciding on a pair. Go for a universal slim-fit and a little bit of length so you can roll them up and have the woven edge exposed.
2. They take a while to break in – Unlike regular jeans, these ones are made of heavier fabric so they take a while to break in. They make not come with factory made wrinkles and rips, so when they eventually form, they’re unique to your body and movements. They also last longer because of the tough fabric.
3. Don’t wash them too often – Denim is essentially workwear, so it’s meant to have a bit of wear and tear and look as though it’s actually lived in. With that being said, if your jeans do start to smell, it’s time for a wash, but as a rule of thumb, stick to washing them every two to three months. Wash them by soaking them in lukewarm water and soap for 45 minutes, then scrub any stains off, rinse them in cold water and hang outside to dry.
Now have a look at the ultimate GQ guide to denim.
Author: GQ Staff