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

Our top 4 picks:

  1. Best Overall: Flint and Tinder Loomstate Selvage Denim
  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 Loomstate Selvedge Denim.  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:

Review Roundup

Flint and Tinder Loomstate Selvage Denim
  • Made in the USA
  • Heavy, durable denim
  • Available in different washes
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Bonobos Selvage Stretch Jeans
  • Variety of cuts
  • Nice array of colors
  • Curved waistband for comfort
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J.Crew Mercantile Men's Straight Fit Jean, Dark...
J. Crew Mercantile Straight Selvedge
  • Amazing, clean design
  • Attractive stitching and hardware
  • Great price
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KATO’ Pen Slim Stretch Selvedge
  • Japanese denim renowned for quality
  • 360-degree stretch
  • Five great colors
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Outerknown Local Straight Selvedge
  • Amazingly clean design
  • Organic cotton
  • Straight but not baggy
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Naked & Famous Denim Men's WeirdGuy Low Rise...
Naked & Famous Denim WeirdGuy Low-Rise Grey Selvedge
  • Great grey color
  • Available in lots of sizes for a great price
  • Muted rivets
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Amazon Brand - Goodthreads Men's Straight-Fit...
Goodthreads Straight-Fit Men’s Selvedge Jeans
  • Low price
  • Three colors
  • Great athletic sizing
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HIROSHI KATO Jeans Men's The Pen Slim Straight Raw...
Hiroshi Kato Slim Straight Raw Selvedge Denim
  • Statement brand name
  • True blue raw denim
  • Made in the USA
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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 Loomstate Selvage Denim

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.

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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.

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3. J. Crew Mercantile Straight Selvedge

J.Crew Mercantile Men's Straight Fit Jean, Dark...

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.

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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.

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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.

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