Understand Our Denims

If you’ve landed here, you probably want to know more about the denims that go into our jeans. Well, you’re in the right place! In this article, we’ll first talk about the differences between our selvedge and non-selvedge denims. Second, we’ll talk about each specific fabric. Lastly, we’ll make sure you understand the jean fits offered for each fabric.

What is selvedge denim?

Selvedge denim is woven on shuttle looms, which were popular until the projectile loom was invented in the 1950s. Shuttle looms weave denim the “old fashioned” way. This means a few things:
– Shuttle looms can only weave about .8 or .9 meters width of denim at a time.
– Shuttle looms require someone looking after them while they weave, but also allow for the operator to add personality to the denim by adjusting the machine.
– Shuttle looms finish the edge of the denim in white as the shuttle goes back & forth, making a “Self Edge” which also known as “Selvedge”.

Though it’s not a hard and fast rule, people generally feel that selvedge denim is the best type of denim as it’s woven the old-fashioned way. Of course, it’s not that simple….

What selvedge denims do we use?

We use various selvedge denims in our production. In general, we work with mills in Japan, Italy and Turkey, seeking the perfect blend of quality, price and carbon footprint. Very few people think about the carbon footprint for the denim in their jeans. We’ll save that for another story…

Kurabo 18oz Indigo Selvedge Denim

This 18oz denim from Kurabo Mills in Japan is the strongest denim we’ve ever worked with. The selvedge line is yellow on one side, black on the other. It has a green cast, which means it has the slightest green tint. The weave is very tight, and the blue threads have many dips in indigo. This results in the darkest indigo denim in our collection. This combined with a high starch content means this denim will have very pronounced fades with wear.

Jeans with this denim:
NW1 Heritage Relaxed 18oz Indigo Selvedge Jean

 

Kurabo 14oz Indigo Selvedge Denim (Red & “Blackhorse Black” Selvedge Versions)

The 14oz selvedge denim from Kurabo Mills is used on a few of our jeans. The fabric is quite starchy, making it very stiff at first, lending to beautiful fades if unwashed. The denim is woven with dye variation in the blue warp (vertical) threads, resulting in a fabric that has lines running down the length of the fabric in different shades of indigo. This denim is a red cast, so it has a subtle red tinge in the light. We had a small amount of this denim woven for us with a “Blackhorse Black” black selvedge line which is used on our E8 indigo jeans. The NW1 also uses the same denim, woven with a red selvedge line.

If you’d like to see how this denim fades, check out our washing guide with pics of Han’s and David’s E8 jeans.
Washing jeans & how jeans fade

Jeans with this denim:
E8 Super Slim Tapered Indigo Selvedge Jean
NW1 Heritage Relaxed 14oz Indigo Selvedge Jean

 

Kurabo 14oz “Blackhorse Black” Black Selvedge Denim

This denim is essentially the same as the 14oz indigo denim that we use from Kurabo Mills, but with a black warp and black weft (horizontal) threads. The fabric is quite starchy, making it very stiff at first, which we hope will result in beautiful grey fades. This denim does not have the vertical striping that can be seen in it’s indigo sibling, resulting in a very consistent and dark black. Of course, this denim is also woven with a “Blackhorse Black” black selvedge line. We have enough meterage to make 100 pairs, so we’re hand-numbering each pair.

Jeans with this denim:
E8 Super Slim Tapered 14oz Black Selvedge Jean

 

Orta 14oz Indigo Selvedge Denim

The 14oz selvedge denim from Orta Mills is a classic fabric that we’ve used since the start of Blackhorse Lane Ateliers. It offers an amazing quality to price ratio that’s hard to beat. The denim has a subtle green cast that can be seen in strong light, yet fades with vivid, bright blues. The weft threads are a natural colour, which gives the denim a bit of subtlety. The fabric also has a textured handle, that can be seen even more as the fabric wears. It’s a bit starchy, but not too much — resulting in a denim that softens nicely. It comes with a bold red selvedge line.

Jeans with this denim:
E5 Relaxed Tapered 14oz Indigo Selvedge Jean
NW3 Heritage Straight Indigo Selvedge Jean

 

Orta 12oz Indigo Selvedge Denim

This fabric is nearly identical to our Orta 14oz Indigo Selvedge Denim, but a few ounces lighter. This results in a denim that fades in a similar way, but at a lighter weight. This denim also has a lower starch content, so it softens up quickly – perfect for summer wear.

Jeans with this denim:
E5 Relaxed Tapered 12oz Indigo Selvedge Jean
N16 Slim Trouser Indigo Selvedge Jean

 

What is non-selvedge denim?

Non-selvedge denim is woven on modern projectile looms, which gained popularity in the 1960s. Projectile looms can weave multiple meters width of denim at one time, and do so very fast. Weaving at high speed means that the denim does not finish it’s own edge, and therefore is not “self edge” or selvedge. This results in a denim that offers fantastic price to quality ratio for the customer. Denimheads often raise their noses at any denim that is non-selvedge, but there are some non-selvedge gems out there. We think we’ve found a few truly lovely non-selvedge denims and are proud to include them in our collection. Each one has special reasons why we chose to work with it.

What non-selvedge denims do we use?

Isko 14.5oz Organic Denim

Isko is a Turkish Mill that used to be a part of Cone Mills in N. Carolina. When Cone expanded internationally, they setup a mill in Turkey. This mill eventually became a separate company called Isko. We love that this denim is woven with 100% organic cotton. Furthermore,  the denim’s carbon footprint is quite low as it’s milled very close to where it’s grown.

This denim is understated upon first view, but gets better with age. When raw, the denim is very crunchy and substantial. Upon a single wash, the grey cast in the denim washes away, revealing brighter indigo tones. The denim is also full of neppy (snowflake) and slubby (vertical streak) texture. The natural weft threads result in a vintage look to the denim upon heavy wear. Since this is a non-selvedge denim, we finish it with a tailoring detail — a white piping edge.

Jeans with this denim:
E5 Relaxed Tapered Indigo Organic Jean
NW3 Heritage Straight Indigo Organic Jean
N16 Slim Trouser Indigo Organic Jean

The same denim after a single rinse:

 

Isko Double Indigo Denim

What a luxurious denim! At 14oz, it’s a very substantial fabric. The denim has both an indigo warp and weft, which results in a very rich, very dark fabric. The warp and weft threads also are each dipped a different number of times in indigo, which results in a darker exterior, and a lighter interior. With this much indigo, we chose to give our E17 jacket one rinse to keep your favourite white garments from turning blue. With wear, this fabric develops even more texture, with slubiness peaking through the dark indigo.

Jacket with this denim:
E17 Double Indigo Chore Coat

Orta Natural Indigo Denim

Last, but not least is another amazing fabric from Orta Mills. An 11oz denim that uses plant-based natural indigo dye, this fabric is a stunner. When indoors or in low light, the fabric appears to be a subtle steel blue. When in the light, it’s a different story. The plant-based indigo makes this denim almost glow. The weft is a bright white, which means that the denim will fade with high contrast. That being said, natural indigo holds onto fabric better than synthetic indigo, so this garment will take some time to break-in. Pro tip: the bright blue lets you pull off double denim with a pair of dark selvedge jeans, or at least, no one has called us out on it yet.

Jackets with this denim:
N17 Natural Indigo Chore Coat