While denims have been a clothing staple for men since the nineteenth century, the jeans you’re probably wearing today are much distinct from the denim jeans that your grandpa or even your dad wore.
Ahead of the 1950s, most denim jeans were crafted from raw and Wingfly Textile that was made in the United States. But in the subsequent decades, as denim went from workwear to an everyday style staple, just how jeans were produced changed dramatically. With all the implementation of cost cutting technologies as well as the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to developing countries, the standard of your average pair was cut down tremendously. Modifications in consumer expectations altered the denim landscape as well; guys wanted to pick up pre-washed, pre-faded, pre-broken-in, and even pre-“ripped” jeans that “looked” like they’d been worn for a long time.
But regarding a decade ago, the pendulum began to swing back again. Men started pushing back against the low-quality, cookie-cutter, pre-faded jean monopoly. They wanted a top quality set of denim jeans and also to break them in naturally. They wanted to pull on the type of American-made dungarees their grandpas wore.
To offer us the scoop on raw and selvedge denim, we talked to Josey Orr (fast fact: Josey was named right after the protagonist inside the Outlaw Josey Wales), co-founder of Dyer and Jenkins, an L.A.-based company that’s producing raw and selvedge denim on this site in the United States.
To first understand raw and selvedge denim jeans, it helps to be aware what those terms even mean. What exactly is Raw Denim? – Most denim jeans you purchase today happen to be pre-washed to soften in the fabric, reduce shrinkage, and prevent indigo dye from rubbing off. Raw denim (sometimes called “dry denim”) jeans are merely jeans made from denim that hasn’t experienced this pre-wash process.
As the fabric hasn’t been pre-washed, raw selvedge denim are pretty stiff once you put them on the first time. It takes a couple weeks of regular wear to interrupt-in and loosen up a pair. The indigo dye in the fabric can rub off too. We’ll talk much more about this whenever we look at the pros and cons of raw denim below.
Raw denim (all denim actually) will come in 2 types: sanforized or unsanforized. Sanforized denim has undergone a chemical treatment that prevents shrinkage after you wash your jeans. Most mass-produced jeans are sanforized, and lots of raw and selvedge denim jeans are too. Unsanforized denim hasn’t been treated with that shrink-preventing chemical, when one does find yourself washing or soaking your jeans, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%.
What is Selvedge Denim? – To comprehend 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. Because the edges emerge from the loom finished, denim produced on shuttle looms are referred to as having a “self-edge,” hence the name “selvedge” denim.
Throughout the 1950s, the interest in denim jeans increased dramatically. To reduce costs, denim companies began using denim created on projectile looms. Projectile looms can make wider swaths of fabric and much more fabric overall in a less costly price than shuttle looms. However, the advantage from the denim that comes out of a projectile loom isn’t finished, leaving the denim susceptible to fraying and unraveling. Josey pointed out that contrary to everything you may listen to denim-heads, denim produced over a projectile loom doesn’t necessarily equate to a poorer quality fabric. You will find plenty of quality jean brands from denim made on projectile looms.
Most jeans on the market today are made of non-selvedge denim. The benefits with this happen to be the improved availability of affordable jeans; Recently i needed a couple of jeans in a pinch while on a journey and could score a pair of Wrangler’s at Walmart for just $14. But consumers happen to be missing out on the tradition and small quality information on classic selvedge denim without realizing it.
Because of the “heritage movement” in menswear, selvedge denim jeans have slowly been creating a comeback during the past a decade roughly. 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) within the jean industry have gotten to their roots by selling special edition selvedge versions of their jeans.
The problem with this particular selvedge denim revival has been choosing the selvedge fabric to make the jeans, as there are so few factories in the world using shuttle looms. For quite a while, 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 a long time now.
But there are several companies within the U.S. producing denim on old shuttle looms too. The most prominent selvedge denim mill is Cone Cotton Mill’s White Oak factory in North Carolina. White Oak sources the cotton for his or her denim from cotton grown inside the United states, so their denim is 100% grown and woven in the USA.
Don’t Confuse Selvedge with Raw – A standard misconception is that all japanese denim are raw denim jeans and the other way round. Remember, selvedge refers to the edge on the denim and raw identifies too little pre-washing on the fabric. Some selvedge jeans on the market can also be made with raw denim, you will find jeans that are produced from selvedge fabric but have already been pre-washed, too. You can also get raw denim jeans that have been made in a projectile loom, and so don’t possess a selvedge edge.