KEEP IT SELVEDGE
The word selvedge comes from “self-edge” as the edge of the denim has a clean finish and comes on a 32” roll rather than the standard 62”roll. The edge is actually used in the jeans as an outseam (which you can show off by rakishly cuffing your jeans).
Selvedge jeans are carefully woven on old-fashioned shuttle looms that use one long, continuous thread. Once the thread reaches one side from the other, it loops back creating the selvage strip on one side. The red colored thread is a way mills would show their pride in the product and method, a tradition that continues today.
All denim used to be selvedge but the booming demand for jeans and denim in the 50s (brought on by movie stars like James Dean wearing them) meant jean makers needed a faster, more efficient method to meet demand. The switched from a shuttle loom to a projectile loom. In the late-70s and early 80s Japan went denim/America-crazy and Japanese brands started to produce selvedge jeans themselves, scooping up old shuttle looms. From here, denim-heads in the states were looking to Japan for the best selvedge denim.
Selvedge denim is a mix of quality, rarity, nostalgia, and personalization. Generally a pair of selvedge jean will last longer as they feature a tighter, denser weave, have more weight to them, provide better creasing over time, and produce a more personalized fit and feel for more character overall. Their substantial weight means they pair perfectly with a rugged tweed suit jacket, and a pair of chunky brogues.
How To Care For Selvedge
If you want to keep your selvedge jeans dark and protect those hard-earned creases, turn the jeans inside out and hand-wash them in the tub with cold water and detergent made for dark clothing. Hang them and drip-dry.