While denims have been a clothing staple for guys since the 1800s, the jeans you’re probably wearing today are a lot different from the denims that your grandpa or even your dad wore.
Ahead of the 1950s, most denim jeans were constructed from raw and selvedge denim factory that was made in the United States. Nevertheless in the subsequent decades, as denim went from workwear with an everyday style staple, just how jeans were produced changed dramatically. Using the implementation of cost cutting technologies and also the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to developing countries, the caliber of your average pair was reduced. Modifications in consumer expectations altered the denim landscape as well; guys wanted to grab pre-washed, pre-faded, pre-broken-in, and also pre-“ripped” jeans that “looked” like they’d been worn for years.
But about a decade ago, the pendulum started to swing back again. Men started pushing back against the low-quality, cookie-cutter, pre-faded jean monopoly. They wanted a top quality pair of denim jeans as well as break them in naturally. They wished to pull on the sort of American-made dungarees their grandpas wore.
To give us the scoop on raw and selvedge denim, we talked to Josey Orr (fast fact: Josey was named following the protagonist in The Outlaw Josey Wales), co-founder of Dyer and Jenkins, an L.A.-based company that’s producing raw and selvedge denim below in the United States.
To first understand raw and selvedge denim jeans, it helps to understand what those terms even mean. What exactly is Raw Denim? – Most denim jeans you purchase today have already been pre-washed to soften up the fabric, reduce shrinkage, and prevent indigo dye from rubbing off. Raw denim (sometimes called “dry denim”) jeans are simply jeans created from denim that hasn’t experienced this pre-wash process.
Because the fabric hasn’t been pre-washed, selvedge denim jeans are pretty stiff whenever you stick them on the very first time. It takes a few weeks of regular wear to interrupt-in and loosen a pair. The indigo dye within the fabric can rub off also. We’ll talk more about this when we look at the pros and cons of raw denim below.
Raw denim (all denim actually) comes in two types: sanforized or unsanforized. Sanforized denim has undergone a chemical treatment that prevents shrinkage once you wash your jeans. Most mass-produced jeans are sanforized, and several raw and selvedge denim jeans are extremely. Unsanforized denim hasn’t been given that shrink-preventing chemical, when you are doing end up washing or soaking your jeans, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%.
What is Selvedge Denim? – To understand what “selvedge” means, you need to understand a little bit of history on fabric production. Before the 1950s, most fabrics – including denim – were made on shuttle looms. Shuttle looms produce tightly woven strips (typically one yard wide) of heavy fabric. The edges on these strips of fabric come finished with tightly woven bands running down each side that prevent fraying, raveling, or curling. As the edges emerge from the loom finished, denim produced on shuttle looms are referred to as possessing a “self-edge,” hence the name “selvedge” denim.
Through the 1950s, the interest in denim jeans increased dramatically. To minimize costs, denim companies began using denim created on projectile looms. Projectile looms can make wider swaths of fabric plus much more fabric overall in a less expensive price than shuttle looms. However, the edge of the denim which comes away from a projectile loom isn’t finished, leaving the denim prone to fraying and unraveling. Josey pointed out that in contrast to everything you may hear from denim-heads, denim produced on a projectile loom doesn’t necessarily equate to a poorer quality fabric. You can find lots of quality jean brands from denim made on projectile looms.
Most jeans on the market today are made from non-selvedge denim. The benefits with this have already been the improved accessibility of affordable jeans; Recently i needed a set of jeans in a pinch while on a journey and could score a set of Wrangler’s at Walmart just for $14. But consumers happen to be missing out on the tradition and small quality details of classic selvedge denim without even realizing it.
Due to the “heritage movement” in menswear, selvedge denim jeans have slowly been creating a comeback during the past 10 years or so. Several small, independent jeans companies have sprouted up (like Dyer and Jenkins) selling selvedge denim jeans. Even a number of the Big Boys (Levis, Lee’s) inside the jean industry have gotten returning to their roots by selling special edition selvedge versions of the jeans.
The problem with this particular selvedge denim revival continues to be choosing the selvedge fabric to create the jeans, as there are so few factories in the world using shuttle looms. For some time, Japan held a near monopoly on the production xgfjbh selvedge denim because that’s where the majority of the remaining shuttle looms are; the Japanese love everything post-WWII Americana, and they’ve been sporting 1950s-inspired selvedge denim jeans for some time now.
But there are some companies in the U.S. producing denim on old shuttle looms as well. Probably the most prominent selvedge denim mill is Cone Cotton Mill’s White Oak factory in N . C .. White Oak sources the cotton for their denim from cotton grown within the Usa, so their denim is 100% grown and woven in the united states.
Don’t Confuse Selvedge with Raw – A typical misconception is the fact all selvedge are raw denim jeans and vice versa. Remember, selvedge refers to the edge on the denim and raw refers to an absence of pre-washing on the fabric. While many selvedge jeans on the market will also be made out of raw denim, you can find jeans that are made from selvedge fabric but happen to be pre-washed, too. There are also raw denim jeans that have been made in a projectile loom, and thus don’t possess a selvedge edge.