What is Selvedge?

Jean Shop selvedge

Selvedge appears in many forms, spelled selvage and even self-edge. However written, selvedge is the woven edge on both sides of a woven fabric roll (in our case, denim or twill). The so called self-edge prevents the fabric from unraveling.

The edge of the fabric is used as a garment's outseam. Taking a peek at the inside construction of a pair of jeans is an easy way to identify whether they are made with selvedge denim.

An important note, though: Selvedge denim is not necessarily always raw denim! It can come pre-washed as well. While selvedge denim refers to how the fabric has been produced, raw denim refers to a fabric that remains unwashed at the time it is used to sew a garment.

Jean Shop raw vs washed denim

Most fabrics, including denim, were woven on shuttle looms one yard (or 36") wide until 1950. This process creates a higher yield per jean than the newly adapted projectile looms. The demand for denim after WW2 forced many mills to adopt mass production technology and new ways of weaving denim. For this reason, the projectile loom emerged, becoming the most widely used method.

Jean Shop loom

The projectile loom achieves its speed by firing individual and disconnected weft yarns across the warp. While this process is a much more efficient way of weaving denim, the sealed selvedge edge, which could previously be used to ID the mill, is lost and the edges open. 

Selvedge denim has seen a comeback in recent years, along with vintage denim washes that utilize this detail as a style statement. Turning up the cuff of your jeans to proudly show off your selvedge is now the norm for denim enthusiasts. It's a way to showcase your increasingly sought-after pair of Jean Shop jeans. 

Jean Shop Selvedge Denim