Raw denim is a passion of a few, and an interesting one at that. I like to imagine it as the denim that my Grandpa used to wear, an old-school technique and art that has been lost to the following generations. We’ll teach you how to get your very first pair of raw denim jeans, and how to treat them.
Why is it Different?
Raw denim comes from the factory unwashed. This means that the dye that manufacturers put in the jean is still there in its entirety, untouched. A benefit of this is that the jeans can be ‘worn in.’ Worn in jeans develop creases, wears, and marks from how you use them over time. For example, if you put your phone in your front left pocket every day, your jeans will develop a fade that shows exactly where your phone was carried. It’s pretty cool. Something else to keep in mind about unwashed jeans is that they will be stiff when you get them. This is because of the starch that the factory puts on them during production.
How to Start:
When you first buy some raw denim jeans, make sure you purchase them a size larger than actual (an inch or so longer in the inseam and waist) they will shrink between 1-3 inches as soon as they are washed. Most people don’t wash their jeans in the washer… ever. If you choose to wash your jeans in the washer and dryer, make sure it is in cold water and the dryer isn’t heated. In fact, if you MUST wash them you should air-dry them afterwards in the shade.
When you first want to wear your jeans, make sure you soak them first. Hold them down in a sink or tub full of cold water for ten minutes. After that, the jeans should sink by themselves. Leave them there for a total of 30 minutes, then air dry them. After this process, they are ready to wear.
Many people never, ever wash their raw denim after the initial soak. This is to preserve the dye from the factory. Without the dye, you won’t be able to fade your jeans as dramatically. I wash my jeans after the first year, and then as conservatively as possible afterwards.
As far as style, dark colors are really ‘in’ right now. If you go lighter, your fades won’t be as defined, and you run the chance of having them look like ‘dad jeans.’ Make sure you stick to either slim-cut jeans, or straight-cut jeans. Boot-cut and relaxed jeans are horrible. They will look blousey. Steer clear. Look at how Daniel Craig wears them.
A great brand to start with is Levi. The quality is good, however, they seem to deviate on size quite often. Make sure you try a couple pairs on before you purchase them. APC also carries great raw denim jeans, along with Naked and Famous.
For an advanced and in depth analysis of Raw Denim and the science behind it, make sure you check out RawrDenim.com.