Selvedge Denim: What Every Man Needs To Know

Doug Ellison of Union Clothing lays down the ins and outs of looking after your selvedge...
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Doug Ellison of Union Clothing lays down the ins and outs of looking after your selvedge...

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After a number of conversations on Twitter and forums I have decided to pick up the subject of selvedge denim, the ins-and-outs and the best/recommended ways to look after your jeans. So I asked expert in the field Doug Ellison, one of the directors at well renowned North East denim specialist Union Clothing. Here is the gist of what he had to say on the matter.

What is selvedge denim?

Ok so selvedge denim is defined by the narrow white woven edge on vintage style denim, this was originally produced on 29-inch looms and went on to 58-62 inch looms to improve efficiency. Individual denim producers would often use a coloured line of thread to identify their product, Levi and Nudie use red, Lee use green, Wrangler use gold and Japanese denim brand Edwin are now using rainbow selvedge.

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So how is it made, are there different techniques?

Different techniques can be used to make selvedge denim and each technique creates different characteristics in the denim. Left hand twill was traditionally used by Lee and offered a softer handle. Open ended denim is generally cheaper to produce although it is bulkier, coarser, and absorbs more dye. Right hand twill produces a diagonal which rises from left to right. Most Levi’s jeans are right hand twill. Ring spun denim was traditionally used into the late 1970s but was replaced by cheaper open end yarns, generally used to acquire a vintage look; this denim is harder wearing than open end. Ring ring denim uses ring spun yarn for both the warp and weft and generally has a lower cost.

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Are there any special ways to care for your selvedge denim, what do you recommend?

There are a few pointers we at Union Clothing give to our customers to make sure they get the best out of their investment. First, good quality selvedge is not the cheapest but will reward you with years of wear whilst giving you a pair of jeans that you have lived with through every scuff and wear mark which tells a story about you and your lifestyle.Second, to get the best out of your selvedge jeans requires some dedication and willpower not to succumb to the temptation to wash them too early; if you imagine your jeans to be a tree and you need to remove the bark to get at the grain of the wood below that is in effect what you are doing with a pair of selvedge jeans.

At Union we like to practise what we preach, especially when it comes to selvedge denim. Here is an example of Geoff’s selvedge denims before he started wearing them, and after the first wash 18 months later.

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Cheers fellas, that's cleared a few things up then. Until next time.

If you are looking for some quality selvedge jeans then why not have a look Union Clothing's new online store here, or pop into our stores in Newcastle and say hello: Union Clothing, 12 High Bridge, Newcastle, NE1 1EW.

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