8 Best Selvedge & Raw Denim Jeans That Are Rugged & Tough

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Our top 4 picks:

  1. Best Overall: Flint and Tinder Stretch Selvage Jeans
  2. Best Jean Under $200: Bonobos Selvage Stretch Jeans
  3. Best Jean Under $100: J. Crew Mercantile Straight Selvedge 

While selvedge denim refers to the how the jeans were sewn together (also known as the self edge), in recent years, selvedge has become associated with high quality and durable jeans that can withstand a ton of abuse.

In this guide, we will review the best selvedge denim jeans for men – such as the Flint & Tinder Stretch Selvage Jeans.  In addition to our expert reviews, we will also go over key features you need to consider when buying selvedge denim jeans along with answering a whole list of questions about this rediscovered jean type.

Let’s begin:

How to Buy Selvedge Denim Jeans

When shopping for selvedge jeans, there are 9 considerations you will want to keep in mind:

1. Fit

Denim makers make jeans in a variety of different fits, here are some of the most popular:

  • Skinny: The skinny fit are going to be the tightest fit throughout with a tapered leg opening. They are also often low to mid rise and tend to be a bit less formal.
  • Slim: The slim fit is not too tight and not to loose, a perfect right in the middle. Usually mid rise, these denims are straight at the top and slim at the thigh.
  • Regular: As plain a cut as they come, regular cut denim is straight from hip to leg and not tight or loose. They’re also usually mid rise.
  • Relaxed: Relaxed fit provides a loose fit throughout, from the hip to the leg.
  • Loose: Baggy and roomy with a loose fit, this fit provides extra space throughout the jean. Meant for comfort and often, hard work.   

2. Cut

Aside from fit, the cut of the cuff on the jean is another part to consider when buying jeans:

  • Straight cut: Like it sounds, straight through with little variation from top to bottom.
  • Boot cut: This is created with the intention of fitting the bottom over boots, the bottom of the leg flares out a bit from the calf.
  • Tapered: Tapered denim gradually becomes narrower towards the bottom; its essentially the opposite of a bootcut. 

3. Size

Denim sizes are generally more precise than small, medium, large or extra large. The extended sizes ensure a better fit. The most important is the waist, but length is also an important factor. For example, 36 x 24 means a 36-inch waist and a 24-inch length, measured from the inseam. Keep in mind your size may vary in some brands and cuts. This is likely because not every pair of jeans sits at the same point on your waist. You want to make sure that you take the time to measure and choose the right size. Avoiding ill-fitting denim is important in looking your best as well as being comfortable in your jeans.

4. Materials

The materials found in denim jeans vary.  From the fabric to the hardware, here are the details worth knowing about:

Denim Fabrics

Selvedge denim is made primarily with denim, which is fabric made of 100% cotton twill, usually blue and white cotton woven into diagonal parallel lines. Selvedge denim is often made with raw or unwashed denim. Raw denim begins very still and stiff but if properly cared for it will wear in just right and fade, rip, soften to perfectly suit you.

Some selvedge jeans will incorporate a small amount of stretch, which requires another fabric like polyester. There is usually no more than a few percentage points.

Hardware

Rivets are some of the most distinctive parts of jeans and are generally made from copper. Zippers, snaps, and buttons are generally made from steel.  The front fly on denim will be either a button fly or a zipper fly. 

5. Color

Two areas of consideration on color will be the denim itself along with the selvedge seam:

Denim Color

Jeans, regardless of type are actually blue due to chemical properties of indigo dye (source). This means that jeans that are wild colors will actually be made with less denim. Because of this, most selvedge denim will be blue, but even within that limitation, you have many options: standard indigo/mid-wash, dark wash, light wash, etc.

Selvedge Color

The mark of selvedge denim is the actual selvedge (or the ‘self edge’)– the interior seam that brings together the leg of your jeans. This is most often red or white (or a combination between the two colors).  But in recent years, brands have gotten inventive and begun adding subtle patters to demonstrate unique character in the jeans.

6. Denim Brand

Based on our research, we found the following selvedge denim brands to be among the most popular and trusted with men:

  • 7 for All Mankind
  • Flint & Tinder
  • Naked and Famous
  • Gap
  • Nudie Jeans
  • Tellason
  • Rag & Bone
  • Rogue Territory
  • Todd Snyder
  • A.P.C.

7. Country of Origin

The highest quality denim, in general, comes from the United States (particularly from San Francisco and Los Angeles). High-quality selvedge denim jeans also tend to come from the US.  Additionally, Japan makes some really good selvedge denim. Japanese denim is made on old shuttle looms, which are much slower than a modern loom, but produce quality seams. Italy also has reputable denim.

8. Price

Selvedge denim isn’t cheap due to the quality as well as the time and care it takes to make a single pair. Prices can range from $50 to several hundred. A great pair will cost between $150 and $200.

9. Features/Extras

Ripped/Distressed

For style purposes, some jeans have rips or distressed fabric, the result of which is a cool worn in look. Distressed jeans are given a vintage look to appear worn in; not all distressed jeans are ripped. Rips and distress can vary from slight “damage” to severe with large or multiple rips and lots of fading. Raw denim won’t have this until you wear them in and create distress yourself.

Stretch

Stretch jeans have a little (or sometimes a lot) of extra give to them. This can be more comfortable and sometimes offer a better fit. Stretch selvedge denim jeans can also be worthwhile if you plan to do some work in them or bend often. The stretchiness comes from a bit of polyester that is woven into the denim.

The Best Selvedge Denim of 2020 Reviewed

1. Flint and Tinder Stretch Selvage Jeans

Top Award: Best Overall Selvedge Denim

Flint and Tinder products are 100% made in the USA and their Loomstate Selvedge Denim are a headliner in the iconic brands stable of clothing. Beautifully crafted with durable 12.6 oz denim fabric and available in five colors, these aren’t just the best jeans for men – they might be the best pants for men period. Polyester adds just a touch of stretch which keeps you comfortable. The selvedge stitching provides a nice touch and keeps your pants extra durable. At the middle of our price range, the Flint and Tinder Loomstate jeans are a great option if you’re looking to outfit your wardrobe for business or pleasure.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Heavy, durable denim
  • Available in different washes

Cons

  • Would like to see different cuts
  • Pricey for jeans

What You Need To Know

 If you only buy one pair of jeans, get yourself a pair of Flint and Tinder Loomstate Selvedge Denim Jeans in a dark wash. You’ll be able to wear them anywhere, for most anything.

2. Bonobos Selvage Stretch Jeans

Top Award: Best Selvedge Denim Under $200

Sometimes you just need a little bit of stretch in your selvedge – the Bonobos Selvedge Stretch Jeans deliver. Coming in at the middle of our price range, this great pair of jeans is made from Japanese fabric and constructed in the United States. Available in five colors, the comfort stretch and signature curved waistband provide comfort and will keep this pair looking fresh through many wears and washes. The Bonobos Selvedge Stretch Jeans are also available in four different sizes from slim to athletic, meaning you can get the fit that works best for you.

Pros

  • Variety of cuts
  • Nice array of colors
  • Curved waistband for comfort

Cons

  • The stitching is muted on many pairs
  • May run a bit tight

What You Need To Know

A pair of Bonobos Selvedge Stretch Jeans will get you quite far, from the office to the bar to the BBQ, all in style for a not-so-bad price.

3. J. Crew Mercantile Straight Selvedge 

Top Award: Best Selvedge Jeans Under $100

We love J. Crew for their great styles and jeans – they make some of the best slim jeans around. These J. Crew Mercantile Straight Selvedge are among some of the nicest. you can find for under $100. They sit just below the waist, are straight through hip and thigh, and a narrow leg making this the perfect straight fit pant. Available in a great dark blue, though no other colors, the J. Crew Mercantile Selvedge have a stellar stitch pattern and the timeless look can easily become a go-to from your closet.

Pros

  • Amazing, clean design
  • Attractive stitching and hardware
  • Great price

Cons

  • Would like to see different washes
  • They do tend to run tight

What You Need To Know

If you’re looking to get the selvedge look without paying an exorbitant price, the J. Crew Mercantile Selvedge is a great set to add to your closet.

4. KATO’ Pen Slim Stretch Selvedge

The KATO Pen Slim 14 oz. 4-Way Selvedge Denim are made from Japanese denim but 100% made in America. KATO accentuates the old school philosophy of a great pair of jeans that should last forever with the Pen Slims. The four-way means that you get 360 degrees of stretch and with five classic pockets, you won’t feel a thing. In five great colors and near the high end of our price range, these jeans will last a lifetime.

Pros

  • Japanese denim renowned for quality
  • 360-degree stretch
  • Five great colors

Cons

  • Could be pricey
  • Limited to smaller sizes

What You Need To Know

If you’re willing to invest in a great pair of selvedge denim, the KATO Pen Slims are the ones you want.

5. Outerknown Local Straight Selvedge

Outerknown’s Local Straight Selvedge is a great entry into any man’s wardrobe and at the lower end of our price range, you won’t bankrupt yourself doing it. Only available in the dark blue color, the Local Straights are made from Fair Trade certified materials and designed by head designer John Moore. A straight but not overly baggy fit keeps you comfortable throughout the day. All-day comfort, combined with a classic, attractive selvedge weave means you’ve got a great pair of pants for not so large an investment.  

Pros

  • Amazingly clean design
  • Organic cotton
  • Straight but not baggy

Cons

  • Limited sizes
  • No other colors or washes

What You Need To Know

A great place to start a selvedge denim wardrobe, the Outerknown Local Straight Selvedge denim jeans are a fantastic pair for a decent price. 

6. Naked & Famous Denim WeirdGuy Low-Rise Grey Selvedge

Jeans don’t need to come in a lot of colors, but we think grey is a must-have addition and the Naked & Famous Denim WeirdGuy Low-Rise Selvedge are a great example of colored jeans done right. At the middle of our price range, these pants are made from high-quality Japanese denim and accented with muted lighter rivets. A tapered leg, button closure and five pockets make these a great pair for any man. You will have to take a bit of extra care with these jeans – cold wash and hang dry only, but if you can get over that, these are a solid purchase.

Pros

  • Great grey color
  • Available in lots of sizes for a great price
  • Muted rivets 

Cons

  • Additional care required
  • Low rise may not be right for everyone

What You Need To Know

Accentuate your wardrobe with a well-made, slightly colored pair of selvedge jeans for a great price – its a win for your and your wallet. 

7. Goodthreads Straight-Fit Men’s Selvedge Jeans

Amazon brands have come a long way since the site began selling books in the late 1990’s. Goodthreads are the Amazon entry into the midscale fashion market and they make some great Selvedge jeans. Like all Amazon products, they are far less expensive than some of the other entries on our list. At the very low end of our price range, the quality does tend to suffer slightly but you’ll get the look you’re seeking for less money. If you want a brand name, this isn’t the pair for you but they’re available in lots of sizes and three great washes.

Pros

  • Low price
  • Three colors
  • Great athletic sizing

Cons

  • Slightly lower quality and construction
  • Athletic fit isn’t the best for everyone

What You Need To Know

Goodthreads by Amazon make great clothes and this pair of Selvedge denims are a great entry if albeit not the highest quality. 

8. Hiroshi Kato Slim Straight Raw Selvedge Denim

Japanese Kaihara 4-way Stretch Selvedge Fabric and Made in the USA-branding make the Hiroshi Kato Slim Straight Raw Selvedge Denim worth the price near the top of our price range. Available in a beautiful dark blue wash, with just a little bit of stretch, the Hiroshi Kato Slims are made in house in Los Angeles. They feel exactly like a raw denim should with the stretch men deserve. Available in a variety of sizes but only the single, raw blue color, these jeans will make a statement wherever you wear them.

Pros

  • Statement brand name
  • True blue raw denim
  • Made in the USA 

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Not other color options

What You Need To Know

Make a statement with the Hiroshi Kato Slim Straight Raw Selvedge Denim – yes, you’ll have to stomach the price but if you do, these jeans can take you anywhere. 

3 Must-Have Accessories When Wearing Selvedge Denim

1. Belt

Pretty straightforward, a belt is fabric or leather that is worn through the loops at your waist to keep your jeans up! You can probably avoid wearing a belt if you have your jeans tailored to fit just right, but its necessary otherwise. A classic leather belt can be a stylish accessory whether you need it or not.

2. Boots

Boots are footwear that cover the foot and ankle and can even extend it above up the calf. A great pair of American made jeans looks even better with a great pair of boots check out our guide to boots.

3. Sunglasses

Sunglasses can elevate your style and protect your eyes from the sun. If you want extra protection, a pair of men’s polarized sunglasses will do the trick.

Selvedge Denim FAQs

What is the best brand of selvedge denim?

Like all men’s products, the best brand of selvedge denim is the one that meets your needs. If you don’t need a brand name on your pants then don’t worry about what the best brand is – simply look for great denim with a bit of stretch.

What is selvedge denim?

The selvedge of a pair of jeans is the small bound area at the end of the leg that keeps it from unraveling. Selvedge denim has generally come to signify a higher quality pair of pants.

Is selvedge denim better?

In many ways. Selvedge denim is often handmade from responsible materials.

Are selvedge jeans worth it?

They certainly can be. If you’re looking to elevate your style, selvedge can do that for you. If you’re simply looking for a great pair of pants that will last a long while, selvedge is still worth it.

Why is selvedge denim so expensive?

Selvedge tends to be more expensive because it is often handmade or made on old style looms with thicker fabric.

Do selvedge jeans shrink?

They can – most selvedge jeans are supposed to be washing in cold water and hung dry.

How tight should selvedge denim be?

This largely depends on the cut. If you have a slim cut selvedge, then it will be tighter. If you’d like a little more space, you should look into a different cut or a pair with a bit more stretch.

Selvedge Denim vs. the Alternatives

Selvedge Denim

Selvedge denim is made on an old fashioned shuttle loom, often with organic or natural materials and the selvedge at the bottom of the leg is pronounced and well-weaved. Because of all this, they tend to be more expensive. They can be slim fit or straight fit. They are rarely “baggier” than that.

Raw Denim

Raw denim can be any type of denim, selvedge or non. The only difference is that it is not pre-washed. These often need to be broken in to be worn regularly.

Non-Selvedge / Regular Denim

Regular denim is often made on large machines from a variety of different materials, including denim. There are still plenty of great pairs of regular denim.

Our Criteria for Choosing the Best Selvedge Denim

We took a look at the most important criteria for buying the best selvedge denim including cut, fit, and size, as these all determine look/style. We also looked at price. Our list is an objective view of a number of different types of selvedge out there. As always, do your research and ensure you get what works best for you and your wardrobe.

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About Shawn Burns

Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn's expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.