What Is Selvedge Denim? (Ask an Effortless Gent)

by Brian Adee  |  in Casual Style

Understanding denim is a matter of knowing your warps from your weaves. The way a piece of denim is woven will affect its strength, appearance, and resistance to fraying. 

All of this is key to answering your burning question: What is selvedge denim?

Photo via Heddels

In today’s edition of Ask An Effortless Gent, we’ll be filling you in on all the details — and then sending you towards a styling guide to get your denim fit just right.

Mystery Solved: Selvedge = Self Edge

The first hint towards the meaning of selvedge denim is hidden right within its name. It’s a corruption of the phrase “self edge”, meaning that the cloth doesn’t require a hem or bias tape to stop it from unraveling.

That fray-stopping power is a direct result of the way selvedge denim is woven. The vertical (warp) threads are looped over by the horizontal (weft) threads at their edges. In plain English, the cloth is woven back in on itself rather than leaving an open edge.

All of this is done on a shuttle loom, too, which puts less stress on the threads and leads to jeans that wear better, longer.

Those are the basics of how selvedge denim is made, but they don’t quite explain why selvedge denim is popular. That’s because it takes great care and attention to create selvedge denim that looks great too, usually showcasing two contrasting colors of thread.

The result? Selvedge denim has become associated with the highest quality jeans and shirts you can buy.

What’s the Difference Between Selvedge and Raw Denim?

Did you know that a pair of jeans can be made of both selvedge and raw denim? It’s true — because the two terms refer to different parts of the denim-making process.

Selvedge, as we covered above, describes the type of weave used in making the cloth. Raw, on the other hand, means that the denim hasn’t been pre-washed.

So if a pair of jeans is made with a selvedge weave and not pre-washed, it’s both raw and selvedge denim.

Is Selvedge Denim Better Than Regular Denim?

Selvedge denim is much pricier than your standard-issue jeans. But is it worth it?

We think so.

Because the cloth is woven in a slower and gentler process than what’s used for industrial denim, selvedge denim is softer and fades better over time.

If you’re particular about how your denim looks (and we are), selvedge is the clear choice.

Where To Go From Here

Want some fit tips for your denim, selvedge or not? Check these guides out next:

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