Simon Crompton on the Selvedge Cords

By Simon Crompton

Jul 13, 2022

Simon Crompton on the Selvedge Cords

There’s something peculiarly satisfying about clothes made from dead-stock cloth. 

I suppose it’s similar to the appeal of a limited edition: it’s restricted, special, never to be made again. You’re part of an exclusive club that will remain exclusive, rather than promising as much and then opening up to new membership a year later.

Even if the product is part of a run of 100, that number pales in comparison with the volume of clothing made every year. The club is still small and select. In an age when everything must be available now, instantly, clickable and shoppable as soon as you see it on your preferred social feed, this is an exception. 

The feeling is of its time, I suspect, as well. The excess consumption of the 2000s, and the accessible luxury of brands pushing perfume and sunglasses has created a backlash that you see in the growth of personalisation, of limited ‘drops’ of clothing, and of the appeal of vintage.

We don’t want everyone to have the same things as us. And they can’t all have a pair of these Drake’s selvedge cords, as they were made in a dead-stock cloth acquired from a Japanese mill. Indeed, that mill no longer has the machinery to make them, so there’s no possibility of another run, even if it was desired. Guaranteed exclusivity. 

Of course, we shouldn’t get carried away with exclusivity. Down that way madness lies - specifically, the madness of queueing around the block to buy cheap branded clothing, whose only appeal is exclusivity. Anyone who’s done that knows the appeal is ephemeral. 

But it’s a nice bonus in a garment that already has many other nice things to say for itself. In a previous article, it was outlined what this selvedge corduroy material is, and what sets it apart. Although a corduroy, it has a sharpness and a stiffness that makes it rather different from normal needle cords. 

I’m here to say how mine have worn in, and why I particularly like the new light-brown shade introduced since that article. 

My pair were particularly crisp to start with, but as predicted softened after a couple of washes, before settling down and remaining unchanged from then on. They feel different, now, to how they do in the Drake’s shop, were you to pick up a pair and try them on. 

But they still have a touch more stiffness than regular cords, and are lighter to wear too. They feel, perhaps unsurprisingly, more like a lightweight denim in how they wear in, and sit on the body. I personally like them more with knitwear or perhaps a chore jacket - rather than tailoring - as a result. 

I was tempted by another pair this winter because of the unusual, almost rusty-brown shade they are now offered in. That brown recalls a particular denim popular in American workwear, and yet has a strength of colour that also means it sits alongside the preppy green and blue in this range. 

Most importantly, I’ve found that it works with almost anything: blue shirts or white shirts, navy knitwear and grey knitwear, almost any kind of outerwear (waxed green is especially nice). And any brown shoe, from calf loafer to a suede boot. 

I recommend them - but not too loudly. You don’t want everyone else to be in the same club as you, after all, do you?

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