What happens when our Men’s Shop video team goes to Las Vegas during Market Week? They run into Pharrell. They get down to brass tacks with up-and-coming design heroes. And they make some movie magic—amidst three furious days of menswear trade shows.
Watch the interview clips above to learn about the humble beginnings, advanced technology, and DIY ethos behind today’s best denim brands—then shop our Editor’s Picks below to start your quest for a new favorite pair. (Catch part 1 of our Vegas-trip Editor’s Picks here.)
If you’re new to the concept of jeans constructed with a truly masterful hand (the term ‘selvedge’ or ‘selvage’ is often used in menswear circles), we think the pros at one of our favorite denim brands, Sweden-based Nudie Jeans, explain it best. From NudieJeans.com:
“Selvedge denim is made on old-style shuttle looms. The fabric is woven using one continuous cross thread; the weft. As the weft loops back into the edge of the weave, the selvedge [derived from ‘self edge’] edge is created…Selvedge production is much slower than conventionally produced denim [creating a softer, more durable fabric], and only the best raw materials are used. It can be compared to the ‘slow food’ movement; this is slow denim.”
Many pairs of Nudie, in particular, are also made with organic and/or recycled cotton. The following videos show the unique life cycle of Nudie Jeans—from harvesting the organic cotton, to the artisanal craftsmanship that goes into every pair, to the brand’s repair/reuse/reduce ethos, to the dismantling and revival of old jeans through fabric recycling:
One of the selvedge-denim connoisseur’s favorite topics is the art of breaking them in. The jeans in the picture up top started out in a deep, raw, untouched blue (often referred to as ‘dry’ selvedge—i.e., unwashed during the production process). As the owner, a guy named Jeppe, wore them day after day, the raw denim gradually faded in a completely unique way—you can even see where he kept his phone and wallet. Here’s another look at the breaking-in process, month by month:
(click to enlarge)
Note that these remained unwashed for the first eight months. Purists will tell you that abstaining from laundering selvedge denim is vital to the personalized fading process. Here’s a chart, thanks to the people at Nudie, in case you’re not sure when the time is right:
Now that you’re in the top-shelf denim market, the choice is yours: Go raw and try your hand at wearing them in, or skip ahead to an artfully pre-distressed pair. Either way, just don’t wear them in the ocean.