The Difference Between Raw & Selvedge Denim Jeans


As Denim Week continues, I wanted to help dispel some common misconceptions about denim jeans. Firstly, not all selvedge denim jeans are raw denim and not all raw denim jeans are selvedge denim. For some of you this isn’t news, and for others you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about. However, I’ve definitely used these terms incorrectly when referring to jeans.

So in an effort to help you avoid making the same mistake, here is everything you need to know about selvedge and raw denim as well as the difference between the two!

Selvedge Denim


The term “selvedge” refers to the ‘self-edge’ of fabric used in constructing the jeans. The edges are finished with tightly woven bands running down each side to prevent them from fraying, curling, and unraveling.

Therefore, selvedge denim is a much higher quality than the average pair of denim jeans and the price usually reflects the quality!

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Raw Denim


Raw denim means that the indigo-dyed denim has not been pre-washed, rinsed, or processed in any way. In other words, raw denim is simply denim in it’s raw form. Therefore, it is usually much stiffer and rougher so it takes a while for it to actually break-in. However, once it molds to your body and fades over time, it will leave behind a unique fading pattern on the back of the knees, pockets, and thighs.

Think of the wallet imprint that appears when you keep your wallet in the same pocket!


Style Tip: As great as those fades are, they are the result of dye coming off of your jeans. Therefore, I suggest not wearing your new raw denim with your favorite white sneakers.

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What’s the Difference?

The main difference is knowing whether the fabric has been pre-washed or not. A pair of jeans can be made from a selvedge fabric but if it’s been pre-washed or treated it can’t be considered raw denim anymore. Also, always remember that selvedge refers to the edge on the denim and raw refers to a lack of pre-washing on the fabric.

As always, thanks for reading and let me know some of your favorite denim brands in the comments below!

Yours truly,

Akil McLeod
The Dapper Advisor

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