+20 Makers of Exceptionally Well-Made Men’s Selvedge Jeans that You Should Know
Denim hunters share a common objective. Whether they are seasoned selvedge collectors or raw denim rookies, they are all looking for the same thing: the absolute best pair of men’s selvedge jeans.
“Best” may be a subjective term, meaning different things to different people. Quality, though, is objective, and the signs of quality construction are unmistakable. For this reason, we can state confidently that the list below represents the creme de la creme of readily available off-the-rack selvedge.
Our Top 3 Picks
In this guide, we’ll cover popular Japanese favourites like Iron Heart, Samurai, Oni, PBJ, The Flat Head and Full Count, American heritage classics like Mister Freedom, Stevenson and Rogue Territory, and the best of Europe, including Benzak and Indigofera. We’ve also included labels we think deserve more attention like Blaumann, Ooe Yofukuten and Oldblue.
We’ve picked our favourite core fits that are in steady production, but this list is more about brands than it is about cuts. If you’re looking for a pair either to start or to add to your collection, these are the brands you need to know about.
Price hasn’t entered into our considerations. The pairs listed below have been constructed with loving and expert hands from the best selvedge on the planet, and the prices reflect this.
With this masterlist as your guide, you’ll be one step closer to that forever pair that you’ll want to wear every single day, producing beautiful fades in the process.
Take your time, and don’t pull the trigger at the first pair that catches your eye. Explore widely and enjoy the process. The best denim hunter is the methodical and patient one. Happy hunting.
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Iron Heart 634S (21 oz.)
Classics never die, and Iron Heart’s 21 oz. selvedge was born a classic. When the brand introduced the 634S as their flagship denim/cut in 2003, they turned the selvedge scene on its head, creating an arms race among makers to produce the best heavy yet wearable jeans.
The cut, based on the 1966 501, is an excellent introduction either to the brand or to the world of conspicuously well-made selvedge. We’re also big fans of the 555 (super slim), 666 (straight), 777 (slim tapered), and 888 (high tapered).
Samurai S710XX (19 oz.)
Samurai’s most popular pair has been a stalwart in the fade scene since its introduction in 2003. Fading is built into the brand’s ethos, with a strong focus on the “zen and beauty” of faded indigo.
Their 19 oz. silver-line Kiwami Selvedge has produced some of the most beautiful contrast fades we’ve ever seen. For those looking for fast and sharp fades, these cut like a katana. For slimmer Samurais, check out the 511 (slim tapered), the 004 (slim tapered) or the 520 (regular tapered).
Real McCoy’s Lot 906 (14.75 oz.)
For the true-blue purists, Real McCoy’s opens a door into another world of stitch-perfect reproductions. Their 14.75 oz. right-hand-twill selvedge denim was engineered to reproduce vintage Cone Mills denim from the ‘60s, and the resulting pairs are, for our money, even better than the genuine article.
No collection is complete without at least one piece using this incredible denim. For a more modern cut, try the Lot 991 (comfort taper).
Oni 622ZR Secret Denim (20 oz.)
It’s no secret why Oishi-san, the media-shy man behind Oni Denim, would want to keep the details of his formula for this denim under wraps. It’s spawned dozens of imitators, but nobody has been able to fully recreate the magic of Oni’s flagship denim.
A vibrant mixture of blue, green, and beige tones, the loose-weave selvedge has to be touched and worn to be fully appreciated.
Pure Blue Japan XX-019 (14 oz.)
The titans of texture, Pure Blue Japan made their name with super-slubby denims that effectively created an entirely new product category. The vertical texture begins to emerge almost immediately, bringing the dyer’s and weaver’s artistry front and centre.
Warehouse Duck Digger DD-1001XX (13.5 oz.)
Warehouse’s careful construction and vintage bona fides have made them legendary in the selvedge scene. In fact, if you ask the heads of Japanese brands who makes their favourite pair, most of them answer Warehouse without skipping a beat.
Their banner denim, made from a mixture of Tennessee, Texas, and Arizona cottons, is based on microscopic examination of ‘30s denim. It is as close as you can get to pre-50s selvedge without a time machine.
The 1001 fit is based on the 1947 501. If you want to go further back in time, their 1004 (complete with suspender buttons) is based on a pair from 1922.
Full Count 1108 (15.5 oz.)
As one of the brands driving the late-90s selvedge explosion, Full Count emphasised wearability. They were the first to introduce Zimbabwe cotton, which leads to denim that fades to a buttery softness.
They’re not meant to be babied. Wash and wear them however you like, and leave them in a crumpled heap at the foot of your bed. As the fades begin to emerge, they’ll rise to the top of the order.
Indigofera Nash 29 Handdip (13 oz.)
Our first entry from a maker outside of Japan, the Indigoferas can go cuff to cuff with just about any of their East Asian competitors. With a distinctly European bent to their styling, Indigofera cut slantwise across the scene with truly stand-out pieces that get noticed even in an exceptionally well-dressed crowd.
The Flat Head 3002 (14.5 oz.)
The Flat Head have risen to legendary status on the backs of their leather goods and flannels, but it was their vertically textured middleweight denim that started it all for the brand.
Their immediately recognisable and elegant arcuates are a beacon for savvy enthusiasts. They send out an unmissable signal, indicating that the wearer has searched high and low for a truly exceptional pair.
Freewheelers Vanishing West 601XX 1951 (14 oz.)
Like The Flat Head, Freewheelers are perhaps best known for their costly leather jackets. Collectors will subside on Spam and salteens for months to get their hands on a Freewheelers hide.
Their more reasonably priced jeans are a great entry point for the brand, and you get a touch of their leather brilliance with arguably the best-looking patch in the game.
The silver-coated buttons with yellow enamel will chip and age like nothing else. For a wider fit, try the 1945.
Rogue Territory SK Cryptic Indigo (17 oz.)
A minimal and modern take on the classic five-pocket form, Rogue Territory’s SK (“skinny”) Cryptic Indigo uses a slubby Japanese-milled selvedge and a light detailing touch.
With one of our favourite subtle arcuates and an exceptionally modern cut, these are primed for the street. Perfect for hard-nosed individualists.
Big John Rare 009 (15.5 oz.)
One of the most slept-on brands in the selvedge scene, Big John were the first to import rolls of American selvedge into Japan, the first to mill selvedge in Japan, and the first to engineer slub yarns.
They introduced their RARE selvedge in 1980 and, more than 40 years later, the RARE patch remains a badge of honour in the scene.
Momotaro 0405-SP (15.7 oz.)
Momotaro turned Kojima’s Jeans Street into an international destination for denimheads. They are best known for their sharp and modern cuts and their eye-catching Going to Battle stripes, which can be found in nearly every serious denim collection in one form or another.
Their 15.7 oz denim produces near-miraculous fades, and time will chip away at those GTB stripes, creating a living monument to Japanese craftsmanship and denim passion.
Naked & Famous Made in Japan (15-23 oz.)
Naked & Famous remains constantly relevant by refusing to rest on their laurels. Their collections range wider than anybody’s, and they have an almost preternatural ability to generate animated conversations in the scene.
Well-known for gimmicky (yet highly wearable) collectibles, the Canadian brand also has dependable and irresistible ranges for purists.
Their Made in Japan (MIJ) series have all the bells and whistles denimheads look for and a range of fits to suit nearly every body type. For something heavier, try their Elephants.
Naked & Famous is sold at: Franklin & Poe (US)
Studio D’Artisan SD-101 (15 oz.)
While Studio D’Artisan may not have been the first Japanese selvedge brand, they were the founding member of the Osaka 5, releasing their first pairs in 1979.
SDA’s 101, the brand’s interpretation of the classic wide-legged American five-pocket jean, with subtle influences from French workwear and designer denim, remains a core of their collection. It’s as good now as it ever was.
Stevenson 737 Ventura (13 oz.)
The 13 oz. Kuroki denim might be middle of the road, but everything else about Stevenson pairs cuts against the grain. For those who appreciate difference-making details, Stevenson are in a class of their own.
Where most brands use arcuates to help their pairs stand out from the crowd, Stevenson uses curved back pockets, bold bar tacks, and hourglass belt loops. Even those who don’t know what they’re looking at will be able to tell at a glance that this pair is something special.
Mister Freedom California Lot 64 (13 oz.)
With some of the most distinctive back pockets anywhere and classic American styling, Mister Freedom can rival even big hitters like Samurai and Iron Heart for customer loyalty. They get all the little things very right, and they bring a touch of California to everything they make.
The lightweight Cone Denim combined with the classic straight leg will, with steady wear, fade to pure vintage perfection. For a slimmer fit, try the Lot 674 (slim).
Benzak BDD-006 Green Cast (15 oz.)
The pride of Amsterdam, Benzak have made a name for themselves by elegantly fusing European tailoring and Japanese denims.
Felled inseams, tucked belt loops, and Benzak’s unique sixth pocket (hidden below the waistband on the left side) all mark this pair as a cut above the rest. Nudge this denim along with a few months of steady wear and you’ll see why fans of green cast denim can’t get enough of the stuff.
Blaumann Jeanshosen Schmaler (15 oz.)
This no-nonsense German brand produces high-octane pieces that leave a trail of exhaust and burnt rubber in their wake. Impeccable German tailoring and aerodynamic styling work together to create a lean and mean pair of jeans for throttle twisters.
It’s worth navigating their German-only website to get your hands on a pair. If they don’t ship to your location, send them an email and they’ll make the necessary arrangements.
Oldblue Heavyweight Beast (23.7 oz.)
The fade scene in Southeast Asia has produced some of the most stunning faded pairs seen anywhere in the world, and Indonesia’s Oldblue can take some of the credit for sparking some of this interest in Jakarta.
With their looping boot stitches on the back pockets and the coin pocket, Oldblue pairs list westward harder than Wranglers.
The denim may be Japanese, but these have more of the six-shooter to them than the katana. For something slimmer, try the 7.75” Cut.
Ooe Yofukuten Lot OA01XX-0522 (13.5 oz.)
We’ve tried to avoid collaboration pairs on this list, but some things just can’t be helped. The Ooe Yofukuten collaboration with Standard & Strange (the brand’s only stockist outside of Japan) is your best way to get into a pair from the legendary husband-and-wife outfit.
Bryan had a chance to examine this pair close-up in New York, and there’s not a single fibre out of place. A pair for true perfectionists. Worth waiting for if they’re temporarily out of stock.
Got the Jeans? Join the Indigo Invitational!
The Indigo Invitational is the world’s largest and most-inclusive denim fading competition. Running for a full year, it allows you to test your fading might against more than 1,000 competitors from all over the world. There’s no better way to do justice to your jeans.