For those who have even a passing desire for raw denim, you’ve probably heard the word Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to somebody who vends lettuce, selvedge means the way a textile has been woven. You can spot selvedge denim by the tell-tale colored lines that often run along the outseam of a pair of jeans, but precisely what does that mean?
Selvedge goes by a lot of spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) however it all equates to exactly the same thing-the self-binding edge of a fabric woven on a shuttle loom. That definition may sound a bit jargony, but trust me, all will quickly sound right. It’s also important to note that selvedge denim is not really the same as raw denim. Selvedge refers to just how the fabric has been woven, whereas raw refers to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.
How is Selvedge Denim Made? So that you can know how manufacturers make selvedge denim factory, we first have to understand a bit about textile manufacturing generally. Just about all woven fabrics are composed of two parts with two parts: warp yarns (the ones that run down and up) and weft yarns (those that run side to side).
To weave a fabric, the loom supports the warp yarns in place whilst the weft yarn passes between them. The real difference between selvedge and non-selvedge fabrics is all a matter of just how the weft yarn is positioned in to the fabric. Up until the 1950s, almost all denim was produced on Shuttle Looms. A shuttle loom is a weaving textile loom which uses a tiny device called a shuttle to complete the weft yarns by passing forward and backward between both sides from the loom. This leaves one continuous yarn in any way the sides therefore the fabric self seals without any stray yarns.
Most shuttle looms create a textile which is about 36 inches across. This dimensions are pretty much great for placing those japanese selvedge denim seams on the outside edges of the pattern for a couple of jeans. This placement isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, but practical in addition to it saves whoever’s sewing the jeans a couple extra passes on the overlock machine and ensures the jeans will never fray on the outseam.
The demand for more denim after WWII, however, soon forced mills to adopt mass-production technology. A shuttle loom can place about 150 weft yarns a minute on a 36 inch wide textile. A Projectile Loom, however, can place over 1000 weft yarns a minute over a textile that’s twice as wide, thus producing nearly 15 times more fabric in once span.
The projectile loom achieves its speed by firing individual (and unconnected) weft yarns across the warp. This is a much more efficient approach to weave fabric, what’s lost though is that cleanly sealed edge. Non-selvedge denim produced by projectile looms has an open and frayed edge denim, because each of the individual weft yarns are disconnected on sides. To help make jeans from this sort of denim, all the edges need to be Overlock Stitched to help keep the material from coming unraveled.
The reason why it Popular Today?
Selvedge denim has seen a recently available resurgence alongside vintage workwear styles from the 40s and 50s. Japanese brands obsessed with recreating an ideal jeans from that era went up to now as to reweave selvedge denim in new and interesting ways. Now that selvedge denim is back on the market, the little detail on the upturned cuff quickly became one of many “things to have”.
The selvedge craze has become so popular that some manufacturers have even resorted to knocking from the selvedge look and producing fake selvedge appliques to mimic the colored lines on the outseam.
The overwhelming majority of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge. There are only xgfjbh number of mills left in the world that also take some time and energy to generate selvedge denim.
The most well known is Cone Mills that has produced denim from their White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, because the early 1900s. They’re also the last selvedge manufacturer left in the usa. Other noteworthy mills include Kuroki, Nihon Menpu, Collect, Kaihara, Kurabo, Nisshinbo, and Toyoshima, all of which will be in Japan, Candiani and Blue Selvedge in Italy. Almost all of the artisanal denim brands will specify which mill their denim is coming from, so try to find the names mentioned above. The improved interest in selvedge, however, has prompted many mills in China, India, Turkey, and elsewhere to generate it too. So it might be difficult to discover the source of your fabric from lots of the larger brands and retailers.