The Ins and Outs of The Selvedge Denim Life

Over the years, selvedge denim has developed a pretty strong cult following in the style world, and rightly so. Selvedge is a throwback to times where quality mattered over the bottom line, and when substance ruled as king. Selvedge denim is a lot like beer, there’s pretty much something for everyone at this point. Small batch isn't always good, and large batch doesn't always mean quality takes a hit. You'll know what you'll like when you try it. Venturing into the selvedge life can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a selvedge novice or new to the game, some key terminology and a little bit of care know-how are going to help you transition in style.

Key Terminology
Sanforization – The process in which denim passes through a machine to prevent both shrinkage, and the stretching out of clothing. You may need to size up for unsanforized denim (so your nuts don't get hulk smashed by the crotch area after shrinking), and roll true to size for sanforized. Some unsanforized denim takes shrinkage into account when sizing, so be sure to check before you size up.

Self-Finished Edge - The key marker of true selvedge denim, this finished edge of fabric at the pant cuff indicates it’s creation on a traditional selvedge loom and is often marked with colored fabric or tape to indicate that it is a true selvedge denim. Beware of fakes though, some less-than-legit brands have been known to sew fake self edges on the inside of non-selvedge denim.

Honeycombs – Refers to the creases behind the knees that show wear over time. And yes, the fading tends to look like its namesake.

Whiskers – The longer, horizontal lines of fades found around the lower waist and crotch area of the denim.

Stacks – The bunching of fabric found at the leg opening of the denim. The amount of stacks is a matter of personal preference, but those starting off should opt for the less is more approach, so long as your shins aren't exposed when you're sitting down.

Cuffing – The outward fold of the leg opening of the denim, utilized to stunt the finished edges of the selvedge.

Once you break out your fresh pair of selvedge, the name of the game is consistent wear and tear to develop those dope fades. Unlike sneakers, selvedge denim looks way better after being worn a ton. Wearing your jeans daily with minimal washing tends to bring out the most in them, and develops a nicely tailored look that conforms to your body. Finding a balance behind the development of fades and keeping your joints clean can be a dicey proposition but always use your best judgement.

Proper Care
The fear behind washing selvedge too often is the fabric losing its indigo dye before you have a chance to naturally do so with standard wear and tear. Dead skin, dirt, stains, and plenty of taint sweat can build up, especially during warmer weather, so do your friends, family, and any significant other a favor and wash when necessary. A backstep in your quest to sick fadez isn’t worth losing friends over.

For washing, we recommend a cold soak in a bathtub. Use a cup of white vinegar to mix with cold water (enough to cover the denim) in a tub. Next, let the jeans soak for 30 minutes or so, and then hang dry. The cold and vinegar combine to prevent excessive dye loss, and a vinegar smell doesn't linger once the jeans are dry. Scared of the germs and smell but unwilling to wash? Febreeze and disinfectant spray the inside of the denim. Letting the jeans air out in the sunshine helps too. There's also a notion that freezing the denim kills off bacteria and such, but a typical household freezer won't kill all of them so we put this method in the more fiction than fact arena. If you’re really keen on getting some type of soap on your denim, we recommend an extremely mild variety like Woolite or a dark-color specific detergent.

Live The Life
Some final notes about the selvedge denim lifestyle. Selvedge can come in many weights, from super heavy to light and crisp. An 11.5 to 12 oz weight is a solid middle ground to start with and will break in within a reasonable amount of time. Wearing a stiff ass pair of jeans isn't very comfortable at first, but the fade results can come out pretty amazing with dedication. Like any good relationship, selvedge requires some work and patience. Finally, we highly recommend finding a solid tailor that can deal specifically with selvedge. Altering this type of denim requires a deft hand and the right tools, so don't take them to the local drycleaner and expect quality work.