Recently on Fashionbeans, we have been discussing the advantages of building a timeless wardrobe and developing your own timeless style. This means purchasing a variety of traditional menswear pieces that will cross from season to season easily, whilst transcending and adapting to any new trend you throw at it. In Joseph’s recent breakdown of timeless style, he pointed to the fact that men’s jeans will always be one of these versatile and long-serving pieces, meaning we should always take extra care and consideration before making a purchase. These timeless items can potentially last you years if you buy quality and the correct style.
Over the coming weeks, I am going to be breaking down a variety of options you may not have considered before when making your clothing purchases. You know, the little details that will set YOUR clothing apart from the masses and help you develop your own timeless wardrobe. So without further ado, let’s take a look at a type of denim manufacturing process which will set your jeans (and shirts) apart.
Jeans; from the French phrase ‘Bleu de Gênes’ – meaning blue of Genoa – originated from the port in which Italian sailors wore them in the 19th century. They are made from denim – rugged cotton twill – and were originally work wear until they were popularised in the 1960s. With popularity comes diversification and jeans now come in a wealth of varieties. With a diversity of fabric types and cuts, difficulty choosing the correct pair is a contemporary dilemma – see Ashley’s excellent essential guide to jeans in order to find the perfect cut for you.
With denim jeans remaining the menswear staple it becomes easy to overlook the simple differences which define the perfect jean. To avoid becoming subject to the rush of the purchase, take a short while to consider the benefit of a finer fitting jean.
Selvedge denim used to be the penchant of denim-spotters – an exclusive group of jean-enthusiasts who remarked on the beauty of denim made on traditional shuttle looms. Remarkably durable and highly expensive, they could only be purchased through premium or speciality jeans brands such as APC and Nudie. However, the recent explosion of selvedge into the mainstream means less expensive jeans brands are now developing selvedge options.
This age old production technique produces a continuous cross thread weft. As the weft loops back into the edge of the denim it creates the ‘self-edge’ from which its name is derived. The process took place on shuttle looms which required a narrow, longer piece of fabric, an added cost for traditional jean makers. To reduce material costs manufacturers used up the fabric edge – selvedge.
The self-edge produces a durable and hard-wearing pair of jeans with a much clean edge in contrast to the frayed edge of modern single thread denim. This durability comes at a cost, as selvedge denim is known for being less comfortable and can cause some discomfort during the first wear. The need to shape the denim to form the shape of the jean necessitates stitching the fabric, and this is often done roughly a centimetre in from the edge of the denim. A turned up cuff on a pair of these jeans will display two selvedge edges [shown below]:
Due to its association with authentic denim; the jeans are often left unwashed or in a raw state (dry denim – breakdown coming soon). Real indigo dyes will be used by premium brands and synthetic dyes used on cheaper versions. Due to the unwashed state of the denim, the jeans will develop a personality over time, with lightening of the denim to produce an inverse shadow effect around wallets and mobile phones frequently placed in the pockets.
Selvedge denim is often found in a slim or straight leg cut due to restrictions of 30inch fabric from existing looms. This restriction coupled with high costs led to the techniques death in 1950 America only to be revived during the 1980s by Japanese brands and the craze for ‘premium denim’. Selvedge now symbolises the premium jean, an irreplaceable sign of quality and workmanship.
Key Brands Breakdown
Many specialist jeans brands are synonymous with selvedge denim, here the major players and those you really need to know.
A Japanese specialist brand who use traditional techniques and methods in order to craft their denim. Their name is synonymous with all the features you would expect from premium denim, whilst their price point usually ranges between £150-200 for a selvedge pair of jeans.
Edwin is an authentic denim brand priding itself on innovation and craftsmanship, utilising exclusive fabrics and fabrication, unique technology, hand wash processes, and continual progression in design and fit.
Nudie have a cult status within the world of premium denim, and rightly so. Nudie specialises in raw and pre-washed denim jeans and their range is always made of 100% organic denim which looks and feels amazing on the skin. Nudie has never used any flash marketing campaigns, or used any form of traditional marketing. They gained a cult following within fashion circles as the quality of their product is absolutely like no other within this price range – you can pick up a pair of Nudie’s from around £100 – which makes you wonder why you would ever opt for cheaper brand denim ever again.
Another specialist brand within the mid-price point, Natural Selection is inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution. From the raw unlaundered denim to the authentically treated pair, which might be over 100 years old, the notion that only the strongest will survive fits the brand’s keen desire to keep on evolving and achieve cult status in the market.
Their denim range includes 14.5oz, red selvedge, narrow-width denim straight from Kurabo mills, Okayama Japan. You can’t get more authentic than that.
PRPS denim comes with the premium price tag, but some will say that you just can’t match their quality. This isn’t your traditional put the price up because they are a designer label (D&G, Armani etc.), these jeans are built to last and serve a function. Just check out their ethos:
“At Prps, authenticity is our first priority. Each item in the collection is conceived with a specific purpose and function in mind. Before fashion, Prps is designed to be worn and utilized. In the pursuit of delivering perfect garments to the most discerning denim enthusiast, no detail is overlooked. Prps uses African cotton combined with expert Japanese construction to create what we believe to be the finest product available.”
If any of you have ever had the pleasure of owning some PRPS denim, you will know just how beautiful the material is and how well crafted each piece is. A brand which is well worth investing in.
Evisu have long been a premium Japanese denim manufacturer and they always include selvedge denim within each new collection released. They have been doing this for years (formally founded 1991) and their wealth of experience and traditional labour intensive methods means that throughout their brand you will find some of the most durable, hard wearing and high quality denim available in the price range.
Now that selvedge denim is available on a wide scale, you should all consider investing in a pair of selvedge jeans. Timeless items are supposed to last you a lifetime, and selvedge is some of the most hard wearing, durable and best fitting denim on the market. Due to the wide range of brands producing it these days, it means it is much more affordable to the average male, and you will get much more wear out of well built jeans than you would from a typical high street pair. So take a look at the best of the rest which are available:
Selvedge is available in other forms such as denim shirts and jackets: