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A Guide to Understanding Denim

10.12.17

Iron-Heart

Denim-Workers

Outsiders

Denim-3Let’s face it, most of us live in denim. If you were to open up a random closet, there is little doubt one, if not more, pair of blue jeans would present. Though all of us have at least one pair of denim in our closets, the days of our Grandpa’s standard Levis are long gone. In recent years, denim has become not so much a culture as a religion. If denim is religion, washing it has become sacrilege with terms like “Selvedge” and “Raw” becoming common everyday vernacular.

What does it all mean and why is it frowned upon if someone washes their jeans? Well fear not friends, below we have put together everything needed to know to get started in the world of denim. 

Referring to the way the fabric has been woven, selvedge is basically the king of denim. Back in the early 50’s, shuttle looms were used to produce most fabrics including denim. A shuttle loom produces tightly woven strips of fabric that are finished with tightly woven bands down the sides that eliminate fraying and create a clean edge or “self-edge” vertically down the inside of the pant. With jeans being a standard workwear staple of the time, the clean edge eliminated the chances of a worker’s pants coming unraveled and getting caught in machinery.

Around the same time the basic white tee and blue jeans became the uniform for every teenager and manufacturers needed a quicker, more cost-efficient way to mass produce jeans.  The clean, yet time-consuming process of the shuttle loom was abandoned for the projectile loom. Though a much quicker and cheaper process, the projectile loom creates denim with an unfinished edge that is much more susceptible to fraying and unraveling.

In recent years, due to an increased demand of quality men want from their clothing, a resurgence of selvedge denim has taken place. Though slightly more expensive, a pair of selvedge denim will last 2-3 times longer than the department store blue jeans many have grown accustomed to.

Even though we specialize in the classic chino at Knickerbocker, many of our friends around the country are producing some of the best jeans you can find including Tellason, Rogue Territory and Ace Rivington so be sure to pay them a visit the next time you’re looking for some high-quality denim.

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