Raw & Rugged: Selvedge denim

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Posted by Theresa Tanner on Nov. 5, 2018, midnight

A good pair of jeans is hard to find. But invest in a good pair and it can last for years ... perhaps even a decade, with the proper care. And although certain trends come and go, a local retail store for men features classic options that are never out of style.

If you’re looking for a no frills jean at a reasonable price-point, Nick Lewis, owner of Kingsley & Scout on North Monroe, can’t say enough about The Unbranded Brand jeans ($88). The company uses high-quality, rope-dyed raw selvedge denim made on shuttle looms in Japan. These looms produce small batches of fabric woven with a self-edge, or selvedge.

"If you’re into the denim scene, Japan is where you get it," Lewis said. The only selvedge denim mill in the United States, Cone Mills, closed last year.

The Unbranded Brand jeans

Raw denim is unwashed and untreated, so the color will fade and crease naturally with wear. The weight associated with raw denim is based on weight by square yard of material, which relates to the density of the yarn in the fabric. A heavyweight denim, up to 32 oz., can stand on its own.     

A heavier weighted denim "takes longer to break in, but it lasts longer too," said Lewis. He keeps a worn-in pair of Unbranded jeans on hand to show customers what will happen to the denim over a few months.

Naked & Famous Denim

Another Japanese selvedge denim brand available at Kingsley & Scout is Naked & Famous Denim, which has a few more bells and whistles and a price tag to match. Lewis says that some of their jeans are even collector’s items, like Chinese New Year Earth Dog ($160), which features details like contrast stitching, red pocket bags and a red metallic foil custom leather patch.

But Lewis’s favorite item in the store is the Unbranded UB901 14.5oz Japanese selvedge denim jacket ($135). He calls it a modern update of the classic Levi’s Type III design from the 1960s, with slimmer arms and a more-tailored fit.

The Unbranded Brand jacket

Rather than following fashion fads, Kingsley & Scout carries jeans with classic silhouettes. Lewis encourages customers to try on the jeans, and tell him what they like or don’t like about the fit, so he can find something that suits what they’re looking for and their body type.

"I don’t make the choices for them," Lewis said.