Selvedge Denim

Go ahead, roll up your jeans to have a peek. Selvedge refers to a detail on the inside of your denim — or on the outside once you cuff ‘em up. Curious to know more? Here’s everything you need to know about selvedge denim.

What is Selvedge?

Selvedge (UK) or selvage (US) refers to a narrow, tightly woven band on the edges of denim fabric. The fabric can only be made this way using an old school shuttle loom. A selvedge runs parallel to the warp, with one single thread of weft that doubles back and is woven around the warp ends. Think of it like a natural edge finish; without a selvedge, the threads are loose at all four edges, which can fray or become unravelled with wear.




The Looms

The looms play a big role in explaining why selvedge denim is more expensive. Selvedge fabric is made on older, less efficient machines called shuttle looms. These are more costly, time-consuming and arduous to use, but they produce better quality results (and, of course, those lovely selvedge edges).

On the contrary, modern, large-scale denim looms can mass-produce in significantly less time. However, they can’t create a selvedge edge, which in turn also makes the denim less durable.




Coloured Threads

Historically, all denim had a selvedge finish — typically in plain white — as the fabric was always made using shuttle looms. In the 1930s, manufacturers started to add different colours to selvedge, as a way to recognize the different qualities they were producing for various clients. Red was the original addition and has since become synonymous with selvedge finishes, however, DENHAM often features special selvedge thread colours like pink and our signature blue.




Japanese Selvedge

While selvedge fabrics are made at mills around the world, it’s often said that Japanese selvedge is the best. This dates back to the 1960s, when giant American weaving mills switched from narrow 29” looms to more efficient 55” weaving machines. As the Americans phased out the laborious “old school” method of production, the Japanese purchased the old machines and have continued using them to today.

They have since combined traditional American qualities with their own touch: the best yarns, the most rigorous standards for dyeing and weaving, premium fits, and the highest attention to artisan detail.




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