Buying denim, or buying a pair of jeans is a really big decision for a lot of us. It’s that pair that you hope will flatter you in all the right places, last for a good long while, and also a style that you won’t get sick of a few weeks in. Whether you want them to make your be-hind look amazing, or if they’re the pair that you want to feel completely at ease in, choosing denim is not only about fit, but it’s about colour, wash, stitching, pockets, crotch, weight, and don’t be embarrassed if you have no idea what this word ‘selvedge’ even means, or why people are so obsessed with raw denim. Ponytail got-cha-back.
So let’s clear the air about selvedge. It’s simply a finishing on woven denim fabric that prevents it from unravelling at the edge. You can usually tell by a nice white weave on the edge of a fabric that sometimes has a little stripe of red or black at the edge, and different mills will put their special mark to show its provenance. It gives a nice finish to a seam and if you’re planning to wear your jeans to death, it can perhaps prolong its life. When you look at selvedge denim, you may spot some irregularities in the weaving – something that will make your pair unique from every other pair of its batch. That’s poetry to many denim lovers. The thing about denim is that each pair has the potential to be completely unique to you, thus the more wear it gets, the more ‘you’ it becomes.
That’s a pretty good segway into the realm of raw denim. It’s simply that – raw, unwashed, and unworn denim. It’s got nothing to do with the word ‘selvedge’ apart from the fact that it may or may not have a selvedged edge. I suppose a lot of purists fall in love with the idea that raw denim can be shaped over time to completely shadow time and your existence. In my opinion, it’s a pair of unwashed jeans that is great if you’re a labourer, but not made for wearing to the office lets say. They heavier the raw denim is, the tougher it is to break in, and the longer it will take to wear.
A lot of raw denim purists never wash their jeans either – fine if you live in a cold country perhaps, but hit the tropics and you’ve got a bacteria monster on your hands. What I’d like to tell all of you is that there are no rules when it comes to denim. Wear it how YOU want, and care for it how you wish to, but don’t be scared of the denim police knocking at your door if you decided to throw them in the wash. Remember to keep them with darks, and use a mild environmentally friendly laundry liquid or denim wash to launder them. I say this because the eco washes are much more gentle on your clothes.
So the brilliant thing about denim is that it should be your hardest working garment you own, but it should also be forgiving. Don’t wear something because you think its what people call ‘cool’, but find something that fits your lifestyle and your sense of style. Thanks to the huge denim resurrection in fashion, we have so many styles, to choose from. Let’s say you don’t want to be wearing a pair of jeans that feel like cardboard, try a stone washed, enzyme washed, or water-less washed pair (yes, thanks to some really forward thinking in the UAE we now how water-less washing technology that could transform the industry). The degree of distress on a pair of jeans can be thanks to its washing technique, so when done well it can provide you with that worn-in feel that your favourite old pair had – the one that has been repaired so many times its just sitting in the back of your closet waiting to be transformed into a jacket or lounge cushion.
Here I’ve put together some really classic shapes that have been my go-to jean. We’re looking at denim you can easily get your hands on without a holiday to Japan or the States, ranging from some classic men’s workwear to modern takes on these time-tested forms.
These are a Carhartt relaxed straight 5 pocket jean. They’re a straight mens jean and by now you all probably know that they’re not just for guys. These aren’t selvedge and they come washed but they can still wear beautifully over time. They’re the workhorse, and they won’t break the bank either.
The vintage wash.
Simon Miller jeans are made in America using Japanese denims. I like the kinds of washes he does to both his mens and womens jeans, these ones here feel almost as though they were sand blasted at the knees to get them to rip after a few wears. This pair are selvedge and a great non-stretch skinny jean with a slight yellowish tinge that isn’t overpowering but gives a vintage finish.
The Ivy girl.
These high waisted cowboys are by Acne. I never really buy denim with a spandex blend (what give them a stretch) but this blend is so subtle that the jean can maintain a hardier look and shape. They’re forgiving while keeping everything together, and they go great with a baseball tee and plain canvas sneaker. It’s the Ivy girl’s go to jean.
The pair below, also by Acne are their boyfriend fit with a pretty modern washed colour. There is absolutely no yellow to the denim which gives it a thrift shop feel. The wear marks have been added in but I like how subtle they are. Sometimes this can be a disaster leaving you look like you’re wearing tiger stripes.