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What's the Deal with Selvedge Denim?

What's the Deal with Selvedge Denim?
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If you like jeans, or know a little about high-end fashion, you've heard about selvedge denim. You've probably heard that it's nicer, a little pricier, and something about hems being cleaner, but if there was a pop quiz on selvedge denim, you'd likely draw a blank.

So, let's talk specifics. (Don't worry, there won't be a pop quiz after this blog post).

Selvedge denim essentially means jeans with finished edges. Non-selvedge jeans have unfinished edges, and because of this, are more susceptible to fraying and unraveling. You really need to see the difference to understand it, so here you go.

This:

 Non-selvedge jeans

Versus:

 Selvedge jeans

Do you see the difference? The frayed edges of the fabric of the non-selvedge jeans are stitched together with thread, while the selvedge pair's are clean and crisp.

What makes them different?

A pair of jeans have selvedges or not depending on the loom on which the denim was woven. To illustrate this, you need a quick history lesson: back in the day (pre-1950s), jeans were made from denim woven on an "shuttle" loom, which produced fabric with tightly woven bands running down the edges, which prevented fraying:

 Selvedge denim before it's made into jeans.

Then, later, when jeans became popular and demand for them soared, manufacturers cut costs by weaving denim on "projectile" looms, which create larger swaths of fabric in a shorter amount of time. Of course, cutting costs and speeding up production has its drawbacks. In this case, the edges of the denim were no longer finished, leaving the fabric more susceptible to fraying and unraveling.

On the one hand, projectile looms made jeans more affordable and more people could buy them, which is good. And the quality of many non-selvedge jeans is more than acceptable, so it's not like buying them is throwing your money down the toilet or anything. Most jeans on the market today are made from non-selvedge denim.

But...

On the other hand, selvedge jeans are more durable and last a really long time (a few years, at least), which makes them the better value. They are 10 million times less likely to fray or unravel, which are common non-selvedge jean problems. (Just don't quote me on that statistic). And, yeah, fraying (not in the purposely-distressed jean way, I mean) is just terrible.

Also, selvedge jeans look great. They're sharper, and a little dressier, which means they are more versatile. You can pair them with a white tee and sport coat on a Friday night, or with your favorite pair of tennis shoes for an afternoon of errands. You'll look like a sophisticated sartorialist in both scenarios. Selvedge jeans also look cleaner when you cuff them (say you wanna show off your new shoes), and expose the back of the outer seam.

Now, because selvedge jeans are more rare (the manufacturing process makes them more expensive, etc.), they are harder--if not impossible--to find in department stores or the mall. But, lucky for you, we carry them here at Harleys. We have several different denim brands and styles with selvedges, so there is plenty to choose from.

Call or come see us in Shorewood. Find us here.

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