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superslim

Selvage, set the record straight.

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It's just because I am facinated with the history of things... want to share...

Back in the day, and even now, bolts of fabric would be moved around a lot causing the edges of the fabric to get all screwed up. The edge of the fabric was then woven differently to prevent it from fraying. It was woven tighter.

Old looms up until the 60's were 28-30 inches wide. That's pretty narrow. So when laying out the pattern pieces for a basic 5 pocket construction the leg pannel would be laid against the long side of the fabric against the selvage. This was simply more economical. When the pant was constructed with an open seam, it would clearly show the selvage. The bigger denim manufacturers would produce denim for different companies. And that's where the signifigance of color comes in. For example Levi's would always use Red, Lee=Yellow, Wrangler=White ( I think) and Diesel=Orange. ( That's right, Diesel c. 1978) though) Currently the color of the woven threads on the selvage are for fashion only. Unless you are one of the original compaies using your original color.

In the 70's bigger looms were made and it was more economical for companies to use them. More pattern pieces could be laid down and more jeans constructed. Because the pattern pieces were laid down differently the selvage edge was no longer used.

In the early 80's ( wow. I'm really geeking out) the Japanese were super into vintage Americana. As part of this phenomenon Japanese denim companies bought most of the old looms. And American companies (so typical) were eager to get rid of the old looms for bigger more economical more prouction capacity looms. As such today, most funtional vintage looms are in Japan.

The signifigance of Selvage in denim happens in a few ways... I wish I could figure out how to post a picture because that would make it so much easier to explain.. If you want to see what I mean just e-mail me...

Okay...

Open seam. Since an open seam does not contain any stitching of the end of the fabric this is a good indication of the selvage factor.

Selvage procuced now only means that the denim was produced on a rare antique loom. That in and of it's self is pretty cool. At the same time a vintage loom produces more character for the denim. There will definitley be an inconsistent weave, more slubs, etc.

Open seam is also what gives good tracking. But so can a fell seam. A fell seam lays flat like an open seam but has a stich at the end of the fabric. All good tracking means is that the inside seam- fell or open- was laid flat for the majority of the pants lifetime. It creates a really attractive dark ( with lighter highlights on the bumps) area near the inside seam visible on the outside of the pant.

A whip stitch or a fell seam does not indicate selvage ( as it pertains to it's signifigance to denim) in any way. It does't necessarily mean that the denim is not from an old loom. Back in the day people didn't care about the selvage as we do now so showing that selvage edge of the fabric wasn't a key factor. But it can be a clear indication that it is not. Better safe then sorry just don't buy it.

Closed seams... hmmmm... This is not just an indicator of crap. It usually is, but at the same time it serves it's purpose. Tapered and flared ( sometimes straight leg, but less often) construction calls for the fabric to be cut on an angel. There is no way to get the all telling selvage edge of the fabric to appear on these cuts.

So anyway. Selvage produced currently only means that it is produced on a vinatge loom and will show more character. These looms are very rare. And how this all happend is all kind of interesting if you ask me.

XOXO

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The technical name for the 'open seam' you mentioned, where you can see the salvage, is 'busted seam'.

Levi's used a few different colour threads in their denim from Cone. Red for later 501s (earlier ones had no thread), blue for 201, pink for Lady Levi's.

And I don't believe the Japanese bought any of the old looms, from America, or Cone for instance. Most of the big Japanese denim makers had Japanese looms, usually quite modern. The first post-Cone vintage-style Japanese jean I know of is LVC Japan from 1987, and I guess Evis made their first jeans then or in 1988, both of them with Kurabo denim, I'd be really interested to know of any pre-1987 Japanese selvage, vintage-style jeans.

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Actually you can look up the purchasing of the US looms in

" A Visual History of Jeanswear" American Originals by William Gilchrist and Roberto Manzotti. If it's not in there specifically I have a whole library of other possibilities.

Open Seam v Busted: I chose the word that was the most visual. The more information the better though, your right.

Japanese peeps sure do have their own looms and most of the old school US vintage ones as well. My point is only the location of the American looms, not about the making of Japanese denim and certainly not denim produced by big Japanese companies. It wasn't big Japanese denim makers that bought these looms either by the way. For the most part it was smaller companies or collectors with an interest. And what are the owners of the looms doing with them? Who knows. But I do know that I paid a small fortune for access to one. If you want to find a vintage american loom you'll have a much easier time in Japan then you will here. Try. I sure did.

XOXO

Edited by superslim on May 18, 2005 at 01:07 PM

Edited by superslim on May 18, 2005 at 01:08 PM

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Do let me know the name of the denim manufacturers in Japan that bought US looms in the 80s, I'd be really interested. I don't think it's mentioned in the Gilchrist & Manzotti book though (that's the one with duotone pix, right?). What was the one you had access to? In Japan or in the US?

I'm interested in this subject because it's always said that Japanese companies bought the old Levi's (ie Cone) looms, and I think that's a myth. Cone kept them, but just shoved them down in the basement - they had problems resuscitating them in the early 90s, when Levi's wanted to produce selvage denim, because the staff who knew how to use them had retired!

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Okay I'm totally going to check all this for you... I don't think it's the Cone ones that I'm refering to but I may be without realizing it. I was more refering to an overall interest in the looms and a purchase of many - not just from Levi's. More like a movement, not a specific purchase. I will gladly geek out and check my refrences for more specifics. Wink. Then maybe we can really set the whole record straight.

The book- not sure what a duotone pix is (sorry) but the first page says "Pre- 1920's" I am sure you have it.

The loom I had access to was in Japan just ouside Tokyo. It was seriously rediculous to find one... It took a small army months of really difficult work only to be overwhelmed by the cost. My heart is still a little broken. And also uncertain. If there are some in the US I really couldn't find them and I called everywhere and begged. If you know of Cone still having them for sure please do let me know more. I would really very much so appreciate it.

Thanks!

Your new BFF

Me

icon_smile.gif

XOXO

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What an intriguing mystery. I'd also be interested to find out the true outcome of Cone loom story.

Paul T is correct about Japanese mills having their own shuttle looms (eg Toyota). So it does indeed make you wonder if US looms were bought for collectors interest rather than for mass production of denim.

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That sounds to have the, er, ring of truth!

Cone definitely kept most, if not all, of their selvage looms - they were big and bulky, and expensive to maintain, so they shoved them in the basement. But it would be interesting to know if they sold perhaps a couple of them. I think i will try and find out.

I did actually (I think I mentioned this elesewhere) have a faxed conversation with Yamame, where he said that Evis(u) were using old LEvi's looms. I faxed back and said, I'm puzzled, Leiv's didn't have their own looms, Cone say they haven't sold any, and I thought most of your early denim came from Kurabo. THen he backtracked (I just looked for the fax and can't find it) and said something more general, that he'd tracked down an old-fashioned loom (whcih might well be a Toyota one from Kurabo). I'm sure it's possible there is the odd American loom in Japan, byut I don't think they were responsilbe for the explosion in selvage denim, I think that was more to do with customer demand.

Ringring, do you know of any other major Japanese mills producing selvage apart from Kurabo, Nisshinbo, Kaihara & Mempo?

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Okay it's gonna be a minute while I look through all these refrences I have. Due to the most recent discussion I'll focus on the collectors bit. I am also almost certain that the looms were collected for collector Niche denim things. That's I what I found when I was on the hunt. But let me get some solid facts.

XOXO

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really interesting stuff.

are most of you in the industry? or just denim geeks?

or both? icon_smile_wink.gif

No Shirt. No Shoes. No Dice.

Learn it. Know it. Live it.

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It is a FACT that the Japanese bought most of the US looms from the old days. We didn't have use for them and the Japanese are notorious for taking an already invented concept to the next level!!

It is also a fact that most of the "real" vintage looms are owned by the local mama and pop mills throughout different areas of Japan. Of course the famous ones (Kurabo, Kaihara, etc.)have their share of this machinery but it's the smaller and more local type mills that really have a lot of pride maintaining production for this type of denim. It is also extremely valuable and as stated earlier, deliberately not the easiest to find...to keep in high demand!

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Ringring, do you know of any other major Japanese mills producing selvage apart from Kurabo, Nisshinbo, Kaihara & Mempo?

Paul T, I think Spitzbrg probably answered that one for you. He knows his stuff.

I've a strong inkling that Japan is not the only Asian country making selvage denim these days.

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Yes, I think Evisu put their launch date as 1991, but Evis were producing a wide range of pants and jackets by 1990, and I think their earliest production might have been 1988. I'm so old, I can remember their very first jeans that at the time were, for instance, identical to 501s, beautiful copies, but I only ever saw catalogue photos of their Lee or Wrangler replicas. Does anyone else remember the terrible Capital E Levi's? They'er the ones that put Evisu on the map, because they made it obvious the Japanese were doing it better, and it was only when LVC brought in LS&Co Japan that they started to get it right. I've been told by one of the fabric experts at Leiv's was it wasn't the looms that were the problem when they restarted selvage production at Cone, it was that the staff who knew how to nurture the machines had mostly retired.

I would love to know the truth regarding how many US looms went to Japan... I am sure it happened, but as I said there was a story put about, maybe by Yamane, that Evis (or presumably Kurabo) had bought Levi's (or presumably Cone's) looms and I'm pretty certain that never happened in the way it's been described; when I've asked for more detail from Evisu, I got more information about the sewing machines instead. But if I could get definitive reports of particular mills buying US looms in the 80s I'd be fascinated, I know very little about those mom and pop mills.

I agree Spitzbrg, , wihtout the Japanese, we wouldn't have access to all this selvage denim today, they treasured and developed it while the Americans abandoned it. Though as Ringring says, many others produce selvage, Legler in Italy have been producing selvage for over a decade, quite possibly they never stopped, and I just heard Orta mills in Turkey are producing some beautiful denim too. My neighbour buys for TopShop (!) and I must ask her where they're buying selvage for all their new range, wouldn't surprise me if it's elsewhere in Asia.

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In my opinion, there will be lots of mills producing this type of denim in the coming years. I’m sure the marketing will also be insane as the demand grows a bit more in the mainstream. The demand has been exceptionally high in Japan these past 3 years or so.. From Japan, it always then seems to trickle to the US and Europe 1-2 years later.

Noted on Legler producing a Selvage denim. So does Italdenim and ITV from Italy. I just received a selvage article from ITV last week but for me, it’s hard to pay attention to these articles. There may be several machines out there but just like anything, there’s 1st choice and then there's the rest. I have no doubt that all the 1st choice machinery are in Japan and they are maintained to only produce as they did since day 1, without any modern technology. That’s the beauty of this denim, in my opinion…

“At the same time a vintage loom produces more character for the denim. There will definitley be an inconsistent weave, more slubs, etc.â€

Now we are seeing selvage denim which is fake, also having the fake outer stitching. We will also now begin to see real selvage denim but is the machinery being used 1st choice..? It’s all perfectly noticeable when seeing the product from the 1st choice machinery. However, the 1st choice machines that are 99% in Japan must cost a fortune if not being priceless. I’m sure the Japanese anticipated this happening when originally making these purchases besides just the beauty of the product..

Just my thoughts and opinions though..

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I've called Cone and e-mailed. I left a message with reception for someone to get back to me. The e-mail got bounced back to me. www.cone.com for their contact info if you want to try. Ther receptionist wasn't completley clueless to my question. I also have a few people that work at Levi's that I have contacted. Hopefully there will be some answers within a few days.

I am looking all over the place & in my books for any information regarding specific sales and/ or purchases regarding any vintage looms from the US. I think it is important to keep in mind that somehow Cone has become the primary focus of the antique loom conversation. However they are not the only company that produced denim back in the day. As such I have begun an investigation into the actual names of other small denim manufacturers from 1900-1980 that may have been using these old school looms. I have never looked into or bothered to remember these names before. Any one have any names?

ACG is a good recource for investigation. This is an old old old company who uses tons of looms. Maybe they would have some clues about other comapnies that have since died. Maybe they themselves had access to the old looms at some point.

"Now we are seeing selvage denim which is fake, also having the fake outer stitching. We will also now begin to see real selvage denim but is the machinery being used 1st choice..? It’s all perfectly noticeable when seeing the product from the 1st choice machinery. However, the 1st choice machines that are 99% in Japan must cost a fortune if not being priceless."

Totally. Is there really any way to know what loom is used for what other then taking someone's word for it? It's sketch. The fakes are easy to spot if you know what the reals look like of course. But how deep into the history of the real shit can you get. Heresay is dangerous but sometimes all you've got right? Where is the bottom of this conversation?

ANyway, just checking in. Still working on it...

XOXO

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mmm, interesting. I have also asked a senior source from Levi's fabric end... he told me before he thought Cone hadn't sold any looms, he's been to practically all the Japanese mills but he's going back to check. Maybe people will start to get paranoid down in North Carolina!

Sometimes people just with-hold information, even when they know. I was told by one pretty senior person at LS&Co that the denim was essentially the same when they swtiched to wide looms. I guess a lot of people here will know what they were obscuring...

Anway, Superslim, I read on a post of yours you wouldn't be seen dead in Levi's, maybe you're too cool to be talking to an LVC freak like me??

BTW, Spitzbrg, when you say fake Selvage, do you mean non selvage with that fake strip sewed on? Or is there something more sophisticated out there?

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The bottom of this conversation is that Japan owns the majority, it not all, of the 1st choice vintage loom machinery. As usual, they knew how to capitalize on a product, disregarding their "vintage" passion, and allow their usual trend-setting to trickle to the US and Europe, and then etc..

The only way in my opinion to know what's best and what isn't (besides being in this business) is to know which mills the brand names are using. Once you know these mills, you can find out how reputable these mills are and then ask them to send you cuttings so you can base your opinions by yourself when evaluating. I'm sure every mill that has this (selvage denim) machinery will only speak the best of what they own, regardless of how good this machinery was recognized during that time period.

All of this is a PERFECT example of how the Japanese take an already invented concept and then bring it to the next level, which is always good to capitalize on while still developing a beautiful product, whether being reinvented or not..

Regarding Cone, I'm sure they've been regretting selling their original machinery a lot lately. But as most US companies do, why not capitalize on their product development by using the given modern technology? It's always been proven to be a great strategy but as always, never perfect!!

I'll bet a lot that Cone doesn't own any more of their top line original machinery. I'll bet however that they are reproducing a few of these machines as we speak for this next wave of demand, but they'll never be the machines from back in the day.. These machines I think are all in Japan..

Watch out for Cone’s marketing however!! They one of the originators!! But I doubt they have any of their top line original machines.. The cash (at the time of no US selvage demand, which is still very new in the US) was just too hard to pass up when the Japanese offered.

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Yeah sorry Paul T. Levi's women's fits just don't do it for me. I am "superslim" and I look silly in their things. No disrespect on their line in general. Or, for that matter, their history. As usual Levi's lines have always been better for men. I do have to say that sometimes I just don't understand the big deal behind their mass produced stuff though.

And I'm certainly not cool ;)

And when is some great women's stuff ever going to be available? Something I can really get excited about? Slevage & Raw & Female don't usually go together.

CONE JUST CALLED ME BACK!!! ( Not scared yet)

They said that they still have some of the old looms and they are in use.

There were thousands of them but most are not around anymore.

It is doubtful that they went to Japan but there really is no record as to their location.

XOXO

Edited by superslim on May 19, 2005 at 10:36 AM

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Regarding fake selvage, I meant that it's not real but marketed as real, having the fake stripes sewn-in, etc.. Besides the real.., the 2nd 3rd etc.. choice machinery would be the only machines to produce more sophistacted s-denim than the deliberate knock-offs..

All my opinions though with a bit of knowledge..

Edited by spitzbrg on May 20, 2005 at 09:22 PM

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I too have not really seen 'fake selvedge' (by legit brands) - just brands making their open side seams a bit prettier by binding them or using contrast colour overlocking and/or high density overlocking etc.

In my opinion, there will be lots of mills producing this type of denim in the coming years. I’m sure the marketing will also be insane as the demand grows a bit more in the mainstream.

I agree with the 'bit' part.

I wonder... does the average jeans buyer understand or care about selvedge?

My guess is, probably not. The average buyer probably cares a lot more about:

How their bums looks in jeans - quite rightly so. Particularly women. As Superslim says "Slevage & Raw & Female don't usually go together. "

Fashion/Celebrity endorsement - Most people probably care more if Brad/Angelina are wearing a certain brand of jeans, then the intricacies of the loom widths. The average person would much rather have a funky washed pair of jeans than be bothered with thinking about how much their dry jeans will shrink or endure the stiffness/dye loss of a pair of dry selvedges.

Price - selvedge will always be more expensive to produce. 3 times longer to weave, twice the fabric consumption per pair of jeans. Selvedge has other limitations. It doesn't come in stretch. It's limited to mainly straight(ish) leg jeans.

I was browsing in a Uniqlo the other day and watched customers queue up to pay for all sorts of washed jeans and ignore the dry selvedge jeans. I saw the same thing in Gap several months ago. People walking out with washed jeans, and leaving the selvedge jeans on the rails.

At the higher end of the market , every specialist selvedge jeans shop I've visited has always been relatively quiet compared to mainstream 'denim galleries'.

Selvedge denim is a tiny percentage of the global market. So I think whilst demand may well grow, selvedge denim will always remain very much a niche.

Edited by ringring on May 19, 2005 at 11:10 AM

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Quote:

Ringring, do you know of any other major Japanese mills producing selvage apart from Kurabo, Nisshinbo, Kaihara & Mempo?

Paul T, I think Spitzbrg probably answered that one for you. He knows his stuff.

I've a strong inkling that Japan is not the only Asian country making selvage denim these days.

--- Original message by ringring on May 19, 2005 12:15 AM

a local fellow who is making his own line of copies of Levis 501 bucklebacks said he is getting his raw selvage denim from Thailand off a Japanese made shuttle loom machine

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"At the same time a vintage loom produces more character for the denim. There will definitley be an inconsistent weave, more slubs, etc."

Edited by spitzbrg on May 20, 2005 at 09:24 PM

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What's the difference between selvedge denim and what is classified as luxury denim? Are lines such as true religion, rock n republic and nudie the same quality as say a lvc, edwin or an evisu jean? What about designer lines such as d&g? Obviously they can have higher price points because of their namesake, but at the end of the day, can those prices be justified next to other selvedge denim lines? Or are they selvedge denim too?

G h o s t

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all of the jeans i own are selvadged, edwins, evisu, levis red, but theyre all so expensive... i no evisu have gone up because of all the hype......eg jay z an other rappers wearing them.

i wonder if any one could tell me a similar designer that produces jeans like these that i can get hold of...

also the nu ev eu evisu that r comming out arnt even selvadges an the quality of them is shocking... they do not justify there price and i believe they are an insult to evisu and just a fashion jean

ice cold vintage

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What about the Uniqlo dry selvedge ringring mentioned? A bargain, with a great utilitarian pedigree.

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ESTEightyThree, - Selvage denim means it uses a selvage edge finish. Luxury denim means (high price?)? Nudie, depending on the model, Regular Ralph Dry Selvage/Veggie is great. In my opinion true religion, rock n republic are not as good in quality as 'say a lvc, edwin or an evisu jean', excluding recent cheap evisu. What about designer lines such as d&g? Their prices are rarely justified on quality, compared to other selvage denim lines, as they mostly rarely do selvage (and since selvage jeans usually comes together with quality). Their price is more about trend and fashion than quality.

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i saw evisu's recently that were raw denim, had the legit selvedge edge, but on the inside the tag said made in china. I thought it was made in japan. I think it was real though. Is that the brands attempt to capitalize? lemme know.

Outside Looking In

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authentic evisu jeans are now produced in china, italy and japan. so are the fakes.

"God is Dead" - Neitzsche icon_smile_angry.gif

"Neitzsche is Dead" - God icon_smile_cool.gif

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What a post...

superslim, when my magical shop opens up in which I sell records and selvage jeans, I'll make sure to buy some good raw women's jeans icon_smile_wink.gif Those Iron Heart jeans look pretty good on the bums of those model girls, who don't look like they have much of a bum in the first place.

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