The Nudie Jeans Guide to Selvage Denim
To claim that we love selvage denim would be quite an understatement. Calling it love wouldn't be fair because it's too important for us to call it just that. But what is selvage denim, and what makes it so unique? For the layman, it's a white stripe with colored, contrasting yarns woven into the outseam of someone's cuffed jeans. To others, it is craftsmanship at its finest – the pinnacle of denim engineering.
All denim fabrics are woven on weaving looms. The yarns running from top to bottom are called the warp, and the yarns running from side to side are called weft. And the interlocking of warp and weft is what creates the weave. In essence, all weaves are created equal; selvage denim is produced on old shuttle looms. One single thread pushed back and forth on the loom, in continuous motion, creating a self-bound edge on both sides. That's why it's sometimes referred to as selvedge denim or, in some cases, self-edge denim.
So, the self-bound edge is a beautiful detail, but it also keeps the fabric edges from fraying. For jeans, the selvage is mainly used for the outseam since it can be secured with a single seam alone, making it great from a construction perspective. As a technical term, the selvage is actually used for all woven fabrics.
The contrasting yarn in the selvage is called selvage-ID. The color of the contrasting yarn was a signature telling which denim mill had made the fabric and for that mill to differentiate the weaves they produced. Today the most commonly used color is red but, at Nudie Jeans, we have our very own orange selvage ID.
So, is selvage denim superior to non-selvage denim? Given its historical significance, and since it is a part of our heritage, we will always hold selvage denim in higher regard than non-selvage denim. Because in all aspects, it's true craftsmanship. The process is slower and the output lower, which is reflected in the price tag. Add to that machinery, which may sometimes be more than 100 years old and need a lot of maintenance. Then you need artisans who know their way around these looms. The mills that produce selvage denim have an incredible eye for detail, which becomes evident in the fabrics – both in the dry state of the fabric but even more so once they are worn in.
So, we won't claim selvage denim superior based on technical qualities. Still, we will argue that it, in most cases, possesses more excellent aesthetic qualities. And for that reason alone, we regard selvage as the finest denim there is.
This mid-weight, 13.5 oz. selvage denim has been with us since day one. It's made by Kaihara Mills, Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. Today, they produce the weave with our very own orange selvage ID.
Dry Deep Selvage
A 12.5 oz. selvage quality woven by Kurabo Mills, Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, Japan. This fabric was created by reverse-engineering a pair of 120-year-old jeans found in a goldmine in the USA.
Dry Ace Selvage
Okayama prefecture is the birthplace of Japanese denim, and Shinya Mills in Kojima knows their stuff. A 14.2 oz. selvage recreated from old 1950s vintage jeans. The weft yarns have been dipped 20 times in pure indigo.
Snake Eyes Selvage
This 13 oz., Japanese, red cast selvage will take on the grainy, salt, and peppery characteristics of fine vintage denim when wearing and washing. Did we mention that Shinya Mills in Kojima do some of the best selvages?
Dry Maze Selvage
As the surface fades, the indigo buried deep in the twill lines will create award-winning contrasts. This 14.25 oz. selvage quality is developed by our long-time denim supplier, Bossa Denim from Adana, Turkey.
Black selvage denim won't fade the way indigo-dyed denim does. The dye completely saturates the fiber, making it close to impossible to get the same contrast. But that worn-in grey tone is what you want.