levi's 501

Levi’s Long History Of Selvedge Denim Fabrics

In the latest episode ‘From the Archives‘, Levi’s historian Tracey Panek highlights the long history of the brand’s usage of selvedge denim fabrics. Next to that, she also shares everything you need to know about selvedge denim fabrics. Learn the origin of these fabrics to the production and why it is still so beloved by many denim enthusiasts today.

The Start Of Using Selvedge Denim Fabrics By Levi’s

For more than a century, the American Levi’s pairs of 501 jeans were made from denim woven on authentic shuttle looms that created a selvedge finish. The brand first sourced its denim fabrics in 1873 for their jeans from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester, NH. This was a 9oz denim fabric and was often referred to as extra strong, double x, or top-of-the-line.

Around 1915, Levi’s started to work with the legendary Cone Mills in Greensboro, NC. In 1927, this denim mill created especially for Levi’s a new signature denim fabric with a thin red line woven on both sides called red line selvedge. Today, most brands are using this red selvedge ID for their jeans. It became a standard for premium made pairs of jeans, made with selvedge denim fabric.

During the 1980s, modern looms eliminated selvedge denim as projectile looms became the standard within the industry in order to produce faster denim fabrics. These projectile looms are around 10 times faster compared to the original shuttle looms. As Levi’s stopped using fabrics made on these shuttle looms in the early 1980s, also the selvedge fabrics (with selvedge ID) were no longer part of their standard jeans.

Watch The Episode

Watch the latest ‘From the Archives‘ with Tracey Panek as she explores the rich history of Levi’s selvedge denim, the textile mills that created the denim, and the recent refurbishing of a vintage shuttle loom, one of the largest artifacts in their archives.


Written by Wouter Munnichs
I'm the founder of Long John. Next to running this daily magazine, I'm working as a freelance denim specialist for the industry. Titled as 'Denim Influencer 2020' by Rivet 50. Celebrated my 10th anniversary with Long John in 2021.