While denim jeans have been a clothing staple for males since the 19th century, the jeans you’re probably wearing right now are a lot different from the denim jeans that your grandpa or even your dad wore.
Before the 1950s, most denim jeans were crafted from raw and Wingfly Textile which was made in america. But in the subsequent decades, as denim went from workwear with an everyday style staple, just how jeans were produced changed dramatically. With the implementation of cost cutting technologies and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to developing countries, the standard of your average pair was reduced. Changes in consumer expectations altered the denim landscape also; guys wanted to get pre-washed, pre-faded, pre-broken-in, as well as 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 from 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 provide us the scoop on raw and selvedge denim, we spoke with Josey Orr (fast fact: Josey was named after the protagonist within the Outlaw Josey Wales), co-founding father 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 understand what those terms even mean. What exactly is Raw Denim? – Most denim jeans you get today happen to be pre-washed to soften up the fabric, reduce shrinkage, and stop indigo dye from rubbing off. Raw denim (sometimes called “dry denim”) jeans are simply jeans produced from denim that hasn’t been through this pre-wash process.
Because the fabric hasn’t been pre-washed, selvedge denim jeans are pretty stiff once you place them on the first-time. It takes a couple weeks of regular wear to break-in and loosen a set. The indigo dye in the fabric can rub off as well. We’ll talk more about this when we review the pros and cons of raw denim below.
Raw denim (all denim actually) comes 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, so when one does wind up washing or soaking your jeans, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%.
Precisely what is Selvedge Denim? – To know what “selvedge” means, you must 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 completed tightly woven bands running down each side that prevent fraying, raveling, or curling. As the edges come out of the loom finished, denim produced on shuttle looms are known as having a “self-edge,” hence the name “selvedge” denim.
During the 1950s, the interest in denim jeans increased dramatically. To minimize costs, denim companies began using denim created on projectile looms. Projectile looms can produce wider swaths of fabric and much more fabric overall with a less costly price than shuttle looms. However, the edge of 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 listen to denim-heads, denim produced on the projectile loom doesn’t necessarily mean a poorer quality fabric. You can 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 advantages of the happen to be the increased accessibility to affordable jeans; Recently i needed a couple of jeans in a pinch while on a trip and managed to score a pair of Wrangler’s at Walmart for just $14. But consumers have been at a disadvantage on the tradition and small quality details of classic selvedge denim without even realizing it.
Due to the “heritage movement” in menswear, selvedge denim jeans have slowly been creating a comeback in the past ten 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) inside the jean industry have gotten back to their roots by selling special edition selvedge versions with their jeans.
The issue using this selvedge denim revival has become choosing the selvedge fabric to help make the jeans, since there are so few factories on the planet using shuttle looms. For some time, Japan held a near monopoly on the production xgfjbh selvedge denim because that’s where most 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 period now.
But there are a few companies inside the United states producing denim on old shuttle looms as well. The most prominent selvedge denim mill is Cone Cotton Mill’s White Oak factory in N . C .. White Oak sources the cotton for their denim from cotton grown within 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 selvedge denim wholesale are raw denim jeans and vice versa. Remember, selvedge refers to the edge on the denim and raw refers to an absence of pre-washing on the fabric. While most selvedge jeans on the market are also made with raw denim, you will find jeans that are made of selvedge fabric but happen to be pre-washed, too. You can also find raw denim jeans which were made in a projectile loom, and therefore don’t use a selvedge edge.