by Rhonda Riche
What are denim devotees talking about when they reveal their preference for selvedge jeans? Selvedge or selvage denim (the former is the UK spelling, the latter American) is a self-finished, or edged, so that the fabric won't unravel.
When denim work wear first came into fashion in the 1800s. weavers used narrow shuttle looms (about a yard wide) where threads were not cut to prevent fraying. The result is often a red or orange, tightly bound edge that is seen when the jeans are cuffed.
Selvedge is more than a style statement, it’s also about quality. Selvedge tends to have a tighter, denser weave than non-selvedge, making it sturdier than other kinds of denim. There also a bit of swagger involved as fans favour the unique variations on the fabric’s surface created by using old-fashioned looming technique.
FACT: While most selvedge denim tends to be raw there is no actual connection between the two terms.