Who knew jeans could be so interesting...


If you haven't yet, it's time you look into denim – selvedge denim. While you already know the importance of a good dark denim in your closet, you may not fully realize the potential of selvedge denim, something that reaches far past the hipster trends and Buy USA/American Made fads. In fact, selvedge denim is stronger; it's heavier; and it's made to last a lifetime. It's also a fit that customizes itself to you and only you, due to how it's made. Heard of shrink-to-fit, well it's kind of like that...


Selvedge denim is made on a loom that's significantly narrower than the modern-day projectile looms. Because there was only this considerably smaller space to work with, the denim ended up tighter and heavier. And because space was limited, weavers got as much fabric out of the threads as possible, weaving it until the threads ran out and the edge had to be finished. And since the fabric already had it's own edge, the term selvedge was coined from "self" + "edge."

So maybe those hipsters were on to something…

Selvedge denim wasn't always so hip. Selvedge denim wasn't anything else but workwear. There just wasn't anything else. Denim was the most durable and most reliable for the miners, cowboys and blue collar workers. It wasn't until the 1950s that denim became a staple of American pop culture among all those angsty, James Dean, "Rebel without a Cause" youths. And once pop culture caught on, it left selvedge denim behind as major jean manufacturers replaced their factories with the more efficient projectile looms, paving the way for mass production and subsequently, cheaper and lesser quality jeans.


Interestingly enough, while the American youth were wearing out their fashion craze, the Japanese were busy perfecting the art of selvedge denim. They, too, had an obsession with American pop culture. However, unlike their American counterparts, the Japanese didn't leave quality in the dust. Instead they perfected the selvedge process--on looms made by none other than Toyota [then spelled Toyoda], creating what many believe to be the finest selvedge denim in the world. It was Japan's commitment to perfection and meticulous attention to detail that would make them leaders in the market and have Americans begging at their feet for a few yards of denim.

We're talking about this as if it were so long ago. It's not. Japan produced their first selvedge denim in 1972, and still today, American selvedge jean producers are flocking to Japan to source their fabric. Why? It's just not readily available in America. The one selvedge mill in America doesn't cater to the small businesses and independent designers, but numerous factories in Japan do. It's that simple. How funny that one of the most iconic pieces of American workwear, American menswear, hell, American style, is actually done better in Japan. Now you know.

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