Tyler Brûlé declared workwear dead early this year but I haven’t had a chance to personalize and experiment on a pair of raw selvedge jeans yet. Sites like Denim Archive and Denim Debate have inspired me to do the same and this is the start of my journey.
I was in Hong Kong recently so I went to TAKE5 Co, a shop that specializes in Japanese denim (both fabric and construction are done in Japan), to pick up a pair. I had a budget of HKD 2,000 to work with. I bought a pair of Pherrow’s 466 that set me back HKD 1,670 (PHP 9,185 at PHP 5.5 to the HKD). It is labeled tight-fit because it hugs the buttocks & thighs and is straight down the leg. It’s a lot of money for jeans that aren’t ‘designer’ but that’s not what I’m after. Let me start by explaining the intricacies.
Most jeans sold in the market today are heavily washed to achieve that soft, worn-out and faded look. In some cases they are artificially distressed to create rips, holes and creases. Raw denim is exactly what it means – untreated and unwashed. The way you walk, sit, and move around as well as the items in your pockets will stretch the fabric and bleed out the indigo creating whiskers in the crotch, honeycombs in the knees, and shapes in the form of objects inside your pockets. Raw denim allows one to create a unique look that cannot be achieved using artificial methods.
The word selvedge comes from two words: self and edge. Selvedge denim is woven continuously from left to right on old, shorter width shuttle looms producing a fabric that is self-edged. It is made with more thread making it a heavier and more durable fabric. The Pherrow’s 466 is weighted 13.5 oz which strikes a perfect balance between durability and comfort for use in tropical countries. A woven colored stitch is added to signify what brand it is back in the old days (red for Levi’s and yellow for Wrangler).
The denim is not sanforized. This means that they should be soaked in water prior to wearing because it will shrink to provide a tight fit. Soaking them in water also washes out the starch that was applied. After the shrinking is complete I can hem them in my desired length so I can turn them up to show the selvedge. Other details worth noting are the fact that Japanese denim manufacturers use quality cotton and dipped up to 40 times in natural indigo dye to give denim a dark, rich color. I look forward to wearing them over the next six months until it is time to give them their first wash.
Truly a magnificent garment
Buffalo horn pocket design
The Stormy Blue rivet
Yellow line selvedge
Front and back fit
Pherrow’s 466 and other fine jeans are sold at TAKE5 Co. located at 1/F 75 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. If you’re taking the MTR get off at Tsim Sha Tsui station and take the B1 exit. Walk north and turn right at Granville Road. Walk until you almost reach the end of the road and try to find the sign and balcony. They also have branches in Bangkok, Taipei and Shanghai.