Raw selvedge is all the rage in menswear these days. But what is it, and why should you care? Relax, dear reader. All questions answered below.
What Is Selvedge Denim?
Selvedge denim comes from the term “self-edge.” Roll up your jeans. See how, where the seam comes together, it’s a little ratty and stringy? Selvedge is a cleaner edge that often includes a small amount of flash to it. For men who cuff their jeans, it’s a small change that makes a big difference.
What Is Raw Denim?
Most denim has been washed and rinsed to look a certain way, even when it’s dark. On the other hand, raw denim has only been dyed and treated. This means it starts a lot stiffer. Some liken fresh raw denim to wearing cardboard. However, once you break it in you get two effects: First, it feels like the denim gnomes came and wove the jeans directly onto your legs in the middle of the night. Second, you get personalized fades to tell your life story.
Just as the bespoke suit experience has been revolutionized by the Internet, so has buying raw selvedge denim. These days, you can get your first pair of jeans for around $100.
Where Can I Get Raw Selvedge Denim?
A lot of guys like the idea of raw selvedge… until they see the price. Indeed, top brands like Iron Heart, Raleigh Workshop or even Levi’s Made & Crafted can cost you as much as $300 for a pair of jeans. But just as the bespoke suit experience has been revolutionized by the Internet, so has buying raw selvedge denim. These days, you can get your first pair for around $100. Whether you want to go up from there is up to you.
How do I Care For and Feed My New Raw Denim?
There are some things you should know about raw denim jeans. First, don’t wash them, pretty much ever and certainly not for at least six months (a year is better) after you buy them. The longer you wear them without washing, the better chance of sick fades. A lot of men soak in the tub for their first “wash,” sea salt optional. And whatever you do, don’t just throw them on the floor. Invest in a set of good pants hangers and hang them by the belt loops in the closet every night.
Where Do I Start?
The following five purveyors can hook you up for a reasonable price. Check ’em out.
Gustin brings crowdfunding to the world of raw selvedge denim, selling a wide array of different kinds through their site at discount prices. You’ll need to wait a couple months for delivery, due to the crowdfunded model, but you’re getting top-quality denim at a fraction of the cost. They’ve also got killer shirts and jackets to pair perfectly with your new jeans. Another great thing about Gustin: When I told them my first pair of slim cut jeans were too tight, they credited me for the three I had on order, going so far as to search their on-hand inventory for something to replace what I had already purchased… with nary a grimace.
We get it. Some men like consistency. For those men, there’s Copin. Whereas Gustin has a never-ending rotation of “get ’em while the getting’s good,” Copin offers a smaller, more consistent selection. Particularly for the man who isn’t sure where to begin, the lack of options can be helpful. They’ve also got rinsed jeans for men looking for something more traditional.
Like Gustin, RPM West got going on Kickstarter—and keeps things super simple. They’ve got a slim and a straight, both in the Japanese denim that many aficionados swear by. What’s more, they’ll let you try on three pairs of jeans in your own home. You keep the pair that fits best and send the other two back.
Taylor Stitch has a versatile collection on offer, by no means limited to raw selvedge denim. Still, their raw denim collection is impressive, boasting different dyes and weights. You can pick up a pair of heavy blues or standard blacks, depending on your preference, and grab a shirt to match, all for a price that fits any budget.
Surprised to see this here? Don’t be. Raw denim blog Rawr Denim named Levi’s slim fit rigid trucker jacket one of the best raw denim jackets going. However, you’re going to have to do a bit of hunting to find the raw denim on Levi’s website, as well as get the timing right. Search for “selvedge” and look for terms like “rigid” or “waterless.” You can find a pair of 501s in the raw with selvedge for around the same price as all of the above—even cheaper if you buy during one of their frequent sales. Even today, nothing will ever be as cool as a pair of classic Levi’s.