Selvedge or selvage, either way you care to spell the word is acceptable. The terms come from “self-edge” which refers to the edge on a roll of fabric. Those colored threads you see on the selvedge outseams are actually used to help mills differentiate between fabrics. Selvedge denim is woven on traditional shuttle-looms, which can only produce fabric rolls that were 30 inches wide. Using the fabric rolls end to end, the selvedge lining ends up on the outseams of the jeans, leaving it visible when the denim is cuffed. When the demand for denim increased, a lot of companies abandoned the shuttle mills due to the limits on the amount of fabric it could yield – and moved to projectile looms. These projectile looms could make more denim, and make it faster – but the quality wasn’t as high as the old school methods. Cone Mills is one of the few remaining mills in the United States that is still making denim on vintage shuttle looms; and they’ve been doing it since 1905. They’re responsible for the denim used by brands like Tellason and Rogue Territory. Beyond just the traditional way of weaving the fabric, selvedge denim is of much higher quality, heavier weight, and typically dyed with natural indigo, rather than synthetic dyeing techniques. All in all, a better pair of denim that will stick around for a long time, and look better after each time you wear them.
**I know this has been covered by a lot of blogs/shops – but I wanted to share it here for my readers. The knowledge on selvedge denim is pretty universal, but if you feel I’ve copied you – feel free to shoot me an e-mail: ryan [at] simplethreads [dot] com