Style Q&A: Affordable Raw or Selvedge Jeans

“Affordable” used loosely – none of it’s cheap.

I’m a big fan of Imogene + Willie’s jeans, especially the classic Willie Rigid. While I’d love to support a local business (I’m in Nashville) and I don’t doubt their quality, the price at $250 is holding me back a bit. Do you have any recommendations for something similar that won’t set me back so much? – Brad B.

Ahh, the great denim dilemma.   Where to find high quality selvedge/raw/dry– the stuff that feels like cardboard at first but will wear in and mold to your body quite nicely over time–at bargain prices.  I admit to not being a denim expert.  In fact I only own one pair of jeans.  I much prefer other versions of trousers, but there are plenty of denim heads out there who wear and swear by the stuff.  In that case you may find it difficult to find a good pair made of the best denim (usually from Japan) at less than $250. Many options go for over $300 and a bespoke jeans from Brown, Deim will run you over $500.  Fear not my friend.  There are plenty of options for the sub $250 market and we’re here to explore them.

Need Supply

A brick and mortar shop located in Richmond, VA with an online store front which exclusively sells independent labels from the US and abroad.  Need Supply carries several high end and lesser known denim brands like A.P.CRuell and RayNaked and Famous and others ranging from $40 to $300.  Fits are offered in slim, straight, and relaxed and raw denim is available as well.

GAP
The GAP is another resource for selvedge denim.  GAP options come in one color and fit that sits at the waist, straight through the thigh and has a tapered leg.  At less than $90 it’s a strong entry level consideration.

Context

An online store front which offers a full range of apparel and several denim options from $148-$345.  Most of the brands are independently owned and/or manufactured in the USA or Japan.  Pick your poison from MomotaroJean ShopKapitalLeft Field, and The Stronghold.  To sweeten the pot Context also offers free shipping.

J Crew

The ubiquitous collaborator offers several selvedge options from their in house label to their exclusive partnerships.  Fits and washes vary across the board.  The in-house label comes in a slim-straight (slim) and 484 (slimmest) fits.  Washes range from dark solid to washed out white.  Partnership offerings come from Wallace and Barnes, Levi’s, Lee, and Chimala.  Prices range from $155-$350.

Gustin

Gustin is a newcomer to the denim world but have been manufacturing men’s apparel for the last six years.  Their denim is hand crafted in San Francisco, crowd sourced amongst your peers, and sold at wholesale prices. $81 to be exact.  Gustin is wrapping up their exceedingly successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their denim project.

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Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted; a Washington, DC based Image Consulting Company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today's professional man. He has a healthy obsession with socks. Follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

  • http://weftyandmash.com/ Scott

    This article provides a decent overview, but Raw Denim is a huge category. If you want to learn more about it or get help making a decision, I recommend the following:

    Two resources for more information on Raw Denim… http://weftyandmash.com has extensive in-detail reviews of many pairs of raw denim including Tellason, Raleigh, GUSTIN, Unbranded, and a few others.

    http://Rawrdenim.com has tons of pictures and information to sort through, and if they are missing information on a specific brand of Raw Denim, it may as well not exist.

  • auronblue

    I would also suggest checking out http://www.selfedge.com. They have stores in NY, LA, and SF and carry a large number of brands. 

    • http://weftyandmash.com/ Scott

      Absolutely, and Kiya at Self Edge is one of the most knowledgable people in the world when it comes to Raw Denim.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Scottb

    Urban outfitters sells naked and famous unbranded 14.5oz selvedge denim for ~$80. Hands down best entry level raw denim.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Most excellent.

  • Texburrito03

    Thank you for actually admitting that selvedge isn’t really affordable. I always see the word “affordable” paired with articles about selvedge jeans, then see $150 price tags. Not exactly affordable for a young dad with 2 kids. Great article!

  • cdrinark

    Todd Shelton has US Made Selvedge in a few different fits and washes. Very nice and very well made. $156.

  • bradblackman

    Thanks for looking into that! You’re right, “affordable” is a pretty relative term when it comes to high-end denim.

  • Scott

    This article provides a decent overview, but Raw Denim is a huge category. If you want to learn more about it or get help making a decision, I recommend the following:
    Two resources for more information on Raw Denim… http://weftyandmash.com has extensive in-detail reviews of many pairs of raw denim including Tellason, Raleigh, GUSTIN, Unbranded, and a few others.
    http://Rawrdenim.com has tons of pictures and information to sort through, and if they are missing information on a specific brand of Raw Denim, it may as well not exist.

  • Kurt

    As someone that is new to the world of raw denim I have a couple of simple questions for you. First, do the terms “raw” and “selvedge” mean the same thing or is there a difference between the two? Also, how do the jeans in this article compare to the Levis 501 STF jeans?  

    • award

      “raw” denim is denim that is unwashed from the manufacturer meaning that you will have to size up if you plan on washing them. A lot of people don’t wash raw denim and instead put them in the freezer to sanitize and spot clean stains. Sometimes “Raw” and “rigid” are used interchangeably, indeed raw denim is rigid having never been washed. (pre 1980 something pretty much all denim was sold raw)

      Selvage (self-edge) is woven on a special type of loom that creates a self hemmed edge as opposed to a frayed edge. You can identify selvage denim by the seams. One seam will be neatly self contained while the other (where the fabric was cut) will be frayed. Selvage denim has a unique rhythm woven into the fabric.

      Check out Cone Denim Mills.

  • TJ

    I’m a big fan of my levi 514′s. I don’t have any plans to upgrade any time soon. I’m sure they are fantastic jeans but I’d prefer to spend my money elsewhere.

  • budgetminded

    JCP just launched a new selvedge denim as well under their label Arizona for $35.  I bought a pair about a week ago and can’t stop wearing them….especially for the price.

  • Noel Rushin

    I second Todd Shelton. I have two pairs of his jeans. I used to have just one pair. I wore them as my go to pant for about 60% of the time. It only took my a little over 22 months to wear a hole in one spot.

    If you are looking for an even more affordable pair. Check out Diamond Gusset jeans. They make a great a product that is also made in a America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=742276615 Dave Nielsen

    Check out Huckberry.com for Tellason denim. i own a pair of Tellason slim straight jeans and they are amazing!

  • Pingback: An Introduction to Selvedge and Raw Denim - Primer

  • Greg Sarpy

    Also deep pocket jean company http://deeppocketjeancompany.com/ has great selvedge denim. Their biltmore jeans are great and only $90

  • http://twitter.com/kangalex Alex Kang

    what do tailors typically charge to get selvedged denim tapered? also, is there a specific keyword i should use when i ask him/her to taper it?

    • juanpuedo

      ’bout $60, check out railcarfinegoods.com. call them and tell ‘em exactly what you want.

  • Teds

    Guston makes good selvedge at $81 plus first time buyers can get $20 off with this link – https://www.weargustin.com/invite_from/10628