Selvage: keeps denim history from unraveling
Those of you who follow us on the regular often come in contact with the term selvage or selvedge. This refers to the self-bound edges of the selvage fabric. If you sneak a peek on the outseam of someone’s cuffed denim you will either see the joining edges with either a overcast seam or the coveted selvage.
The selvage fabric is weaved on old shuttle looms. It has a tighter and denser weave than non-selvage denim, which makes the fabric heavier and sturdier. One single weft thread is passed back and forth under one or two warp threads, creating a natural edge on the fabric that won’t unravel. The old looms create variations and imperfections, which makes for more unique texture of the fabric.
The colored thread stitched in the warp was a way for the fabric manufacturers to the tell rolls apart, when they produced for different jean manufacturers. If you take a closer look at our selvage denim you see that we have our own orange selvage.
When the demand for denim exploded in the 1950s, American manufacturers switched to projectile looms that were more cost efficient. The fabric is made with weft threads are shot in only one direction, making the finished edges frayed and in need of an overcast seam. In the 80’s Japanese companies saw a bigger interest in traditional made denim and bought pretty much every old shuttle loom they could get their hands on and started producing selvage fabric. Today, many people claim that Japanese selvage denim is superior to other selvage denim.
We use a couple of different selvage fabrics, but our long time favorite is the Japanese selvage denim from Kaihara Mills. What sets the Kaihara selvage apart from other selvage fabrics is that it’s multifaceted. It will break in beautifully – most selvage fabrics do – but the Kaihara gives different, more personal result. Also, the result will vary every time you break it in.