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Selvedged Denim

A few weeks ago I stopped by a great Portland clothing store called Lizard Lounge and picked up a pair of Baldwin Denim Reed selvedged jeans. I promised to report on the progress of breaking them in for people who are new to selvedged denim.

I did quite extensive research on selvedged denim companies before purchasing to get a sense of what style I might like. I even went so far as to order a pair of Lee 101 selvedged jeans off of eBay to check out what the selvedged denim difference was, but at $80 plus shipping, using my non-selvedged measurements was a huge mistake. I will now use the Lee 101′s as work pants, baggy high waisted work pants.

I found through Baldwin Denim’s website that Lizard Lounge was carrying their jeans so I made a pilgrimage to check them out in person and try them on to ensure a good fit. It was a good thing I did so as the style I thought I would like was way too skinny for my taste and I found that I needed to size down in the waist to get a really snug fit that would stretch through the aging process without becoming baggy. I am normally a 34″ waist and found that the 33″ was snug through the waist and thighs, giving me confidence that both areas would relax nicely, retaining their silhouette as they stretched. I originally thought the slim Henley style was going to be great and probably would have ordered the Henley if I went the on-line route:

The Baldwin Denim Henley -

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Instead I found the Reed to be the way to go after trying them on. I plunked down the most I have ever paid for jeans, at $220 (a close second to the non-selvedged Diesel’s I purchased a year earlier) and left to start the break-in process.

The Baldwin Denim Reed -

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It took me a few days before wearing them, as I was looking for the right excuse to debut them in public. I am using them as my “good jeans” at the moment, instead of everyday jeans, and will continue to do so until they start to whisker and fade. I have worn them 5-6 times and while they are softening a bit, they still retain their stiffness and haven’t started fading anywhere. This is what they look like after 5-6 wears:

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My iPhone photos make them appear lighter than they are, and give the impression that there are fades beginning, but it is an illusion. They still give off blue transfer to furniture and shoe-tops, which I knew would happen, but it is lessening. I will continue to update over time and keep you involved in the process. I am very happy with the weight of the Baldwin Denim jeans. They are a bit heavier than my old Levi’s, which I like. I am 6’1″ tall and find the length to be perfect off the shelf to give me a nice up-fold on the cuff. The rise in the waist was perfect at 8.5″ – 9″. That dimension is very important, as the Lee 101′s are close to a 13.5″ rise and they feel like I am wearing a diaper when they are sitting low on my waist, which is where I like to wear them. The other important dimension for me is the leg opening. I like a thinner pant. The Baldwins have a 17″ bottom opening on the leg, which is not a peg, like the Baldwin Henley at 15″, but is smaller than a Levi’s opening at around 19″. Again, for me the Baldwins were perfect. I will not be soaking these for at least 6 months, and washing is out of the question.

Yesterday I was back in Portland and, on the suggestion of a friend over the weekend, I stopped in the Levi’s company store to check out their selvedged selection. My friend had picked up a pair of Levi’s selvedged for $80 on sale the week before so I was curious what selection they carried in house. I had seen the Levi’s American Made collection and the Levi’s XXX and liked the quality so I was hoping for the best. I am a life-long Levi’s wearer and know that I like 501′s and 511′s but wasn’t used to buying selvedged Levi’s that I wouldn’t be washing, which means that I needed to size down from the 36″ waists that I usually buy in Levi’s. Well, it was my lucky day! Levi’s was having a sale that gave the consumer an additional 30% off of already discounted items. I grabbed a nice helpful sales girl and asked her where the selvedged selection was. They weren’t busy so she walked me around the store pointing out all the styles they had in stock and then she opened the secret motherload door of deeply discounted denim stating, “I think I saw some selvedged in here yesterday.” She loaded me up with an armload of both selvedged and Filson brand Levi’s and we headed off to the dressing room.

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The original retails on all selvedged were from $118 – $179 a pair and they were already on sale for $59 – $99. After trying on several pairs I whittled down my selection to three pairs, two 514 Slim-Straights and a Hesher, sadly leaving the Filson Levi’s behind because even on sale they were $129. After the additional discount, my three selvedged Levi’s ended up totaling $139. On all three pairs I sized down the waist size to a 34″ on the two 514 styles and a 33″ on the Heshers to allow for stretching. I will not be washing or soaking these. I am so happy that I had to share!

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I now have everyday selvedged jeans to break in. I will update the progress over time. Don’t forget to check out your local Levi’s store if you want to dive into the selvedged denim category, but I do recommend trying them on in person, as they all fit a little differently and you want them snug in the beginning.

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