Selvage Science

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Freshteh Piltan

If your a denim worshiper you´re probably already in a deep relationship with your selvage denims. If not, let us introduce you to a perhaps new found love affair. Selvage Denim, the head of denims as some people might say. The word itself derives from the words "self" and "edge", and really details how the fabric is produced, describing the outer seem or edge of the woven fabric, made to prevent it from unraveling.

As you probably know, denim was originally created for work wear.  We´re not talking sit behind your computer and tap your Ipad work. But hard-knock, heavy duty workwear. A well crafted fabric, prepared to last through wear and tear.
Selvage denim is created on an old-style, shorter width looms, called shuttle looms, that uses one continues thread when going back and forth, making the outer edge self-edged. You can usually identify a selvage jean by looking at the inside of the outseam.
Selvage is often also characterized as being a more dense weave which helps giving it a more authentic feel. The older looms also had the personal touch of weaving with imperfections, making the denims more unique which we as denim geeks appreciate.

Dr Denim, Ormond Red Selvage Raw Jeans.

A misconception is that people often think that raw denim is the same as selvage, which it really is not. It´s easy to mix them up though as the selvage denims often come in the unwashed or raw state. (We´ll dig into raw denim for you soon enough.)

As the denim demand grew in the States during the 1950´s manufacturers needed to optimize production and new machines with increased speed overtook the production in the states and the old looms lost their glance. During which a lot of them were sold to Japan. Which is why a lot of contemporary denim brands who produce quality selvage denim nowadays grow out of Japan.
A lot of the looms are actually bought back to the States these days aswell, you snooze, you buy back your old looms!

Posted in The Practice

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