Raw denim, or “dry denim,” is a denim that is not washed after the dying process. Most denim is washed after production in order to make it softer and reduce shrinkage. Also, non-raw (or non-dry) denim is also artificially “distressed” to achieve a certain look. Most of the jeans you find at stores with fades and artificial rips are examples of “non-dry” denim.
So why would anyone go for the plain-looking denim over its “cooler” counter-parts? The appeal in raw denim comes from the fact that with time the fabric fades in a manner similar to factory distressed denim. The fading is affected by the lifestyle of the person who wears it, giving it a more natural “character” that is a unique reflection of the wearer.
You hear a lot of talk amongst denim enthusiasts about “selvage” these days. Selvage denim is essentially a type of denim that forms a natural edge that does not unravel. The selvage edges will be located along the outseam of the pants, making it visible when cuffs are worn (as seen in the above picture). Selvage denim is desirable because it usually denotes a higher quality denim.
The word “selvage” comes from the phrase “self-edge” and denotes denim made on old-style shuttle looms. These looms weave fabric with one continuous cross thread (the weft) that is passed back and forth all the way down the length of the bolt. As the weft loops back into the edge of the denim it creates this “self-edge” or Selvage. Selvage is desirable because the edge can’t fray like lower grade denims that have separate wefts which leave an open edge that must be stitched. Shuttle looming is a more time-consuming weaving process that produces denim of a tighter weave resulting in a heavier weight fabric that lasts.
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