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Raw vs. Selvedge denim

Written by: Eleanor Richards | July 29, 2016.

selvedgeRaw and selvedge denim are both types of denim which are in their most untreated, original form. They last much longer than mass produced jeans, and deal with the wear and tear of everyday life much better. As a result of this, they are more expensive, but they’re definitely better value for money. Whilst a regular, treated pair of jeans will last maybe a year at most, raw and selvedge denim will stay with you for several years.

Raw Denim

Raw denim is untreated denim that hasn’t been washed or rinsed. It goes straight from being dyed in the factory, to the shop – meaning the material is much harder than jeans which are mass produced. Raw denim also has the ability to be specifically marked and faded depending on how you wear it, so each pair will be truly unique.

Raw denim was used for the original pair of jeans in 1873, designed by Levis. However, since then as the demand for jeans grew; treated, cheaper denim became more popular.

Selvedge Denim

Selvedge denim also dates back to the 1800s. It is produced using vintage shuttle looms, very few of which are still in use today. A shuttle loom works by passing thread horizontally over the regular vertical threads. This ties everything together to stop edges from fraying and splitting.

Effectively, a ‘self-edge’ – hence the name selvedge – is created along the seams. The shuttle looms produce tightly woven strips of heavy fabric, which are then used to create the edging on the seams – holding everything together.

As it takes more time to produce selvedge jeans, most of the jeans you can buy commercially today won’t be selvedge – you can clearly tell the difference on the seams. Selvedge 1

One of the main problems with selvedge denim is the availability to produce it. Due to the recent ‘heritage movement’ in menswear over the last ten to fifteen years, the demand for selvedge denim has soared.

Unfortunately, very few factories still use shuttle looms; most of them being commandeered by the Japanese after World War II. As a result of this Japan remains the world’s top producer of quality selvedge denim.

However, some companies in the UK and US still offer selvedge denim; these include Levi’s, Nudie and G Star Raw.

So what’s the difference?

A common misconception in the denim world is that all raw denim is selvedge denim and vice versa. This is not the case; raw simply refers to the unwashed material, whilst selvedge refers to the edge on the denim.

Whilst most selvedge jeans are made with raw denim to create the highest quality product available, you can find selvedge jeans that have been pre-washed. Most raw denim these days is made on a projectile loom, so will not have the selvedge seams.

To find the best and most durable pair of jeans, or any denim item for that matter, you should opt for raw denim with selvedge edging.

Mainline Menswear stocks a huge number of denim products, including jeans, jackets and shirts. Many of our denim products are made with raw or selvedge denim. So if you’re fed up of having to replace your jeans every year, visit our website here to try something new.

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