Denim jeans are one of the most ubiquitous garments available across the world. With hundreds of different jeans brands available, the sheer amount of choice can be overwhelming. What is even more confusing is some of the 'denim specific' language bandied about. I mean, they're just jeans, right? Hopefully this blog will help explain some of this terminology and help you tell your raw from your selvedge!
A pair of Hiut Raw denim jeans
Raw – Raw denim (sometimes called 'dry denim') is the name given to denim which hasn't yet been put through a washing process. Raw denim has no fading and is usually dark indigo in colour, it also has a tendency to feel stiff when first put on. However, this stiffness starts to lessen after a few wears. Most denim purists won't wear anything other than raw denim. Preferring to let a pair of jeans fade naturally with their own wear than to buy pre-faded jeans.
Selvedge – Selvedge/Selvage denim refers to denim woven on a traditional 'shuttle loom' these looms finished the fabric along each edge to stop it unravelling, which is where the name is derived from, (Self edge – selvedge). Shuttle looms take longer to operate and produce less denim than newer (projectile) looms. However, the finished denim is a much tighter weave and is usually of vastly superior quality, Selvedge denim is identified by a colourful thread running down the outer seam of the leg. Due to the history and quality associated with selvedge denim, many enthusiasts won't wear anything but selvedge.
Edwin ED-55 Selvedges
Fading – When the cotton threads used to weave denim are dyed. The dye only permeates the outer layers of the threads. What this gives rise to is a natural fading at points of stress or strain (for example, a wallet in your back pocket). The layers of indigo are literally rubbed away to expose the white core of each thread underneath, as everyone will wear their jeans differently, no two pairs of jeans will fade in the same way. Pre-faded jeans are very popular, with manufacturers artificially creating wear at common points of strain. To get accurate fading effects, a lot of work goes into fading the jeans, usually making them more expensive to produce.
Edwin jeans in a selection of washes, from raw to washed out.
Washes – Similar to fading, the more you wash your jeans, the lighter in colour they will become, this is again due to the indigo dye being washed out, many people don't have the time or inclination to fade their jeans naturally, or simply want jeans which are lighter in colour, without the initial discomfort and effort involved with raw denim. This is where pre-washed jeans come in. In the 1970's Japanese brand Edwin were the first company in the world to produce a washed jean, calling it the 'old wash', which was designed to replicate 'worn in' denim. A decade later, the same company invented 'stone washing' which completely revolutionised denim manufacturing.
Regent stock a wide range of denim, showing off some of the best examples of jeans available. Stocking brands like Welsh made Hiut, the aforementioned Edwin, Levi's Made & Crafted, as well as Harry Stedman.