Selvedge Denim – What Is It?

Over the next few days I will be taking some time off to be with family and friends so I will not be posting as much about my adventures and such. Instead I will be sharing some really interesting readings from around the interweb.

Today’s reading is about selvedge denim – just what is selvedge denim? Read on to learn more –

Selvedge Denim
Gustin Button Fly

If you have even a passing interest in raw denim, you’ve probably heard the word Selvedge more than a few times. No, it doesn’t refer to someone who vends lettuce, selvedge refers to the way a textile has been woven.

You can spot selvedge denim by the tell-tale coloured lines that often run along the outseam of a pair of jeans, but what exactly does that mean?

To read more about selvedge denim, visit Heddels website where there is everything wonderful and amazing about denim and more.

Gustin Premium Menswear

In January I went online and purchased a pair of jeans from Gustin Premium Menswear. And just this week I received them.

You would be justified in thinking WTF –  you ordered them in January and receive them in March? Well that is because Gustin does a crowdsourcing form of retail.

What they do is they find a type of fabric, in this case a black on black 14 ounce selvedge denim, and then they design clothing for that particular form of cloth. In my case they designed a pair of dungarees, which they then share on their website and via their email list to people who have subscribed the piece of clothing, the type of fabric and any other interesting details about the article of clothing.

They set a number of items that they must sell, a date for when the article of clothing must be fully funded, and then, if the article of clothing meets the sales numbers by the set date, it is a go.

The number of orders that they get for that particular item of clothing dictates how much fabric they will buy, and how much or how many pairs of jeans, shirts, jackets or whatever they will make.

This form of merchandising, a form of crowdsourcing, makes it so that the retailer does not have a warehouse full of leftover clothing that has not sold.

Ideally they make the exact number of pairs of jeans or clothing that have been requested by their customers.

It can be frustrating for the type of person who likes the instant gratification of going to a store, picking up a pair jeans, trying them on and then heading home. However the Gustin model of crowdsourcing gives people like me an opportunity to buy very good quality clothing for a very reasonable price.

A concern that many people have about buying clothing online is the ability to try the item of clothing on. Even though I was not able to try on the Gustin jeans, I was fairly confident that they would fit me the way I wanted them to fit because on the Gustin website there is a “Fit Guide” page with a chart detailing exactly how their trousers will fit.

Gustin Fit Guide
Gustin Fit Guide

Rather than saying that it is size 32, 34, or 40, they use a system with a “tagged size” listing and then they list all the measurements: waist, front rise, thighs, knee, cuff opening and inseam.


To make sure you get an excellent fit, they recommend you take your favorite pair of jeans, a pair that fits you the way you want, and then you measure them across the waist using their method. Using their system gives you a very good chance of getting jeans that will fit that you.

Gustin How to Measure
Gustin How to Measure

Overall I am extremely pleased with the quality of these new dungarees that I purchased from Gustin Premium Menswear. These are essentially top-quality custom made jeans in a 14 ounce denim. Another feature of their brand is that all their clothing is made in the USA with expert craftsmen.

The best part? Top quality jeans in a premium denim and they only cost me $99 US.

The Value of Artisan Produced Goods

There is a movement, a resurgence of manufacturing taking place in North America. The resurgence is taking place with small mom and pop type shops. This is a movement away from massive factories with hundreds of workers chained (figuratively speaking, of course) to machines.

People like Railcar Fine Goods – makers of fine denim wear.

Railcar Fine Goods
Railcar Fine Goods

The amazing thing about these jeans, made from what I understand is raw selvedge denim is that you do not wash them very often and you NEVER put them in a machine dryer.

The pair pictured to the right have been worn 384 times! With one cycle through a washing machine!

The thing that makes these jeans even more attractive as they age are the creases that develop in them. I believe it is called “fade”. The deeper the fade, the more street cred you have.

About the jeans pictured here, they are owned by Suzy, a Facebook friend of mine who lives in Texas. Suzy is also part of that resurgence of creating goods. She owns and runs an Etsy shop called The Lazy Leatherworker. In her shop she sells wallets and small leather goods like Field Notes covers, leather bookmarks and other interesting things.

The belt in her jeans is from Sweet Trade, another one of those small, owner operated studio workshops. In their “about” page they talk about working with American sourced goods and how it costs them a little more and takes a little longer but they feel it is the “right” thing to do.

Before you go all “why the promotion of American made goods,” another denim worker I follow is Naked and Famous Denim. These people use only the most unique and rare denim fabrics from Japan. The prestigious mills in Japan, from which they import all their fabric, are committed to producing only the best (and most expensive) denim in the world. Even though they use the finest denims they can get their hands on and everything they produce is made in Canada, you can still get a pair of awesome jeans for $150 or so.

Levi 501s
Levi 501s

Some might think that is a lot of cash for a pair of jeans. But keep in mind these are produced right here in Canada using premium quality denim.

Compare the $150ish price to the internet price of $60 I paid for my raw denim Levi 501s (pictured to the left) and I see the value in supporting the smaller, home grown artisan-like people who are producing goods.

The cool thing is that the internet has made it so that artisans are available and accessible to a much larger marketplace making their chances of success that much greater.

Anyway, enough rambling away by me. All I am really saying is, before going to a mall and buying mass produced goods, consider buying from a small shop. It may cost a little more but typically you are receiving premium quality goods and equally important, you are putting your money into the hands of the person who made the goods and that is just all-round good for society.

Oh one last thing, my Levi 501s in the picture above have been worn since May, about six months ago without once being machine washed. I sat in my kids’ pool one hot summer day with them on but that is it. They are developing a beauty of a set of fades.

One more last thing, the belt in my 501s is from the guys at A Simple Leather Belt (I love their belts and the story behind how they are made!).