Knowledge. Hale Clothing.

Selvedge denim: A rich history

Selvedge denim: A rich history

You've probably seen the term 'Selvedge' when looking for a new pair of jeans and wondered what, exactly, does it mean?


Where did it originate from?

The word itself comes from 'self-edge', which references the traditional denim finishing process and differentiates more commonly made, mass-market machine finished jeans. In 1873, the first pair of jeans were created by Levi Strauss using denim fabric to make a strong, durable work 'pant'. These jeans were stitched and reinforced with copper rivets, creating a significantly more durable type of denim jean that was resistant to the standard wear and tear of the typical cotton or wool trousers of the time.

As word spread, demand increased. While denim wouldn’t become part of the fashion mainstream until after the 1950s, selvedge jeans were widely popular amongst those who worked in the fields and mines.

Japanese adoption

Denim only started finding its way into Japanese fashion during the mid-20th century, after the Second World War when the American Occupation of Japan ushered waves of interest in American fashion and pop culture. Denim jeans produced in Japan today are often distinct and sometimes superior to US denim. Denim made in Japan  has grown to embody exclusive traditions, quality and heritage through the use of its dye and weaving.

Dyed by hand with coloring naturally sourced from the Japanese indigo plant, the finest Japanese denim incorporates methods from Japanese history. Records of indigo plant cultivation date to the 7th century, around which time producers learned to extract deep, dark shades of blue using those plants. In Japan, indigo dye was initially used only for clothing worn by aristocrats and samurai. However, by the 17th century, still two centuries before the United States would see its first pair of denim jeans, Japanese indigo dye had already been popularized to dye household fabrics. Japan is now the global leader in high-quality selvedge denim, having grown and developed its own innovations since the early days of the 1950s.

 

In 1873, the first pair of jeans were created by Levi Strauss using denim fabric to make a strong, durable work 'pant'. These jeans were stitched and reinforced with copper rivets, creating a significantly more durable type of denim jean that was resistant to the standard wear and tear of the typical cotton or wool trousers of the time.



Quality and demand

Selvedge denim is made on vintage shuttle looms to weave the fabric together. However, unlike projectile looms (which make most of the mass-produced denim products today), the yarn is not cut after each insertion, resulting in a tightly woven “endless” edge that is less susceptible to unraveling and far more durable. Whilst the production process is slower than mass produced denim, it is often associated with a much higher quality of product as a result. Vintage shuttle-weaving machines fell out of use in the mid-twentieth century as they were replaced with projectile looms that could keep up with the growing demand for denim, and provided more cost effective methods of creating jeans for the masses.

How to wear it

The first thing you'll usually notice about selvedge jeans is that they tend to be rolled up, or 'cuffed' at the bottom of the leg. This classic style of wear came about for two reasons, firstly aesthetics, many people like the detail in the stitching and often manufacturers will add different colours to make their jeans more distinctive. Secondly, it helps with wear and longevity, especially if you're wearing raw or unsealed denim – the last thing you want is indigo dye running into your nice white leather trainers. A great looking, properly made pair of jeans has been a menswear classic for decades.

 

Selvedge was the perfect material for us to use in our debut collection – durable, long lasting, high quality denim paired with unique tailoring to ensure comfort and flex for stronger thighs, glutes and calves.

A natural fit

Selvedge was the perfect material for us to use in our debut collection – durable, long lasting, high quality denim paired with unique tailoring to ensure comfort and flex for stronger thighs, glutes and calves. As with all trusted pairs of jeans these will become tuned to your body the more you wear them. Finished in Indigo, these versatile jeans are built to last.

Our selvedge jeans are designed, made and hand finished in London from a slightly heavier weight of denim for total durability and a great fits. Shop denim that delivers, now.

 

Shop for Hale Clothing Athletic Fit Selvedge Jeans online
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