While denim jeans have been a clothing staple for men since the 1800s, the jeans you’re probably wearing today are a lot distinct from the denims that your grandpa or even your dad wore.
Prior to the 1950s, most denim jeans were constructed from raw and heavyweight selvedge denim which was made in the usa. Nevertheless in the subsequent decades, as denim went from workwear for 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 reduced. Modifications in consumer expectations altered the denim landscape also; 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 many years.
But in regards to 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 quality kind of denim jeans and also to break them in naturally. They desired to pull on the kind 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 within the Outlaw Josey Wales), co-founder of Dyer and Jenkins, an L.A.-based company that’s producing raw and selvedge denim below in america.
To first understand raw and selvedge denim jeans, it will help to be aware what those terms even mean. Precisely what is Raw Denim? – Most denim jeans you purchase today have already been 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.
Because the fabric hasn’t been pre-washed, selvedge denim manufacturer are pretty stiff whenever you stick them on the first time. It will take a couple weeks of regular wear to get rid of-in and loosen up a set. The indigo dye inside the fabric can rub off as well. We’ll talk much more about this whenever we review the pros and cons of raw denim below.
Raw denim (all denim actually) is available in two types: sanforized or unsanforized. Sanforized denim has undergone a chemical treatment that prevents shrinkage when 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, then when you are doing end up washing or soaking your jeans, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%.
Precisely what is Selvedge Denim? – To understand what “selvedge” means, you must understand some history on fabric production. Prior to 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 sides on these strips of fabric come completed tightly woven bands running down either side that prevent fraying, raveling, or curling. Since the edges emerge from the loom finished, denim produced on shuttle looms are called having a “self-edge,” hence the name “selvedge” denim.
Throughout the 1950s, the need for denim jeans increased dramatically. To minimize costs, denim companies began using denim created on projectile looms. Projectile looms can make wider swaths of fabric and much more fabric overall at a much cheaper price than shuttle looms. However, the advantage from the denim that comes from a projectile loom isn’t finished, leaving the denim vunerable to fraying and unraveling. Josey pointed out that contrary to whatever you may hear from denim-heads, denim produced on the projectile loom doesn’t necessarily mean 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 of this have been the increased availability of affordable jeans; I recently needed a set of jeans in a pinch while on a journey and could score a couple of Wrangler’s at Walmart for only $14. But consumers have already been losing out on the tradition and small quality details of classic selvedge denim without realizing it.
Thanks to the “heritage movement” in menswear, selvedge denim jeans have slowly been creating a comeback during the past 10 years 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 back to their roots by selling special edition selvedge versions with their jeans.
The problem using this selvedge denim revival continues to be locating the selvedge fabric to help make the jeans, because there are so few factories in the world using shuttle looms. For 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 a few companies within the Usa producing denim on old shuttle looms as well. By far the most prominent selvedge denim mill is Cone Cotton Mill’s White Oak factory in N . C .. White Oak sources the cotton for his or her denim from cotton grown in the U.S., so their denim is 100% grown and woven in the us.
Don’t Confuse Selvedge with Raw – A standard misconception is the fact all selvedge denim wholesale are raw denim jeans and the other way round. Remember, selvedge means the edge on the denim and raw identifies an absence of pre-washing on the fabric. While most selvedge jeans on the market will also be made with raw denim, you will find jeans that are made of selvedge fabric but have been pre-washed, too. You can also find raw denim jeans which were made in a projectile loom, and so don’t use a selvedge edge.