Yes, there’s the distinctive selvage along the inner seams of denim woven on the shuttle loom and the rough-textured feel of raw, loom-state denim. But the first thing those new to these denim subgenres often point out is the price. “There’s sticker shock,” Babzani says of many customers who happen into his four stores for the first time.
A pair of raw-selvage denim jeans can easily cost $300, with offerings from cult brands such as California-based Roy Denim and Japan’s Strike Gold coming closer to $400. Speaking of Japan, prepare to pay a premium for anything made there. “The cost is high, and we never try to lie to anyone and tell people our stuff’s affordable,” says Babzani, who estimates that 95 percent of his stores’ inventory comes from Japanese sources. “You cannot get a jean made as well in America as you can in Japan. It’s just a fact, construction-wise, stitching, every aspect of it, quality control.”
Raw and selvage varieties can be had at cheaper price points from mainstream U.S. brands and retailers that are worth exploring if you’re looking for less of a commitment with your next denim purchase. J.Crew, for instance, sells a men’s selvage-denim style for less than $250 a pop, while Nordstrom’s online selection of men’s denim includes raw-selvage styles starting as low as $82. Another relatively inexpensive option is emerging U.S. label Gustin, which keeps its prices low by crowd-sourcing styles into production.
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