If you’re new to raw denim the concept of buying some can be a bit confusing, so let us start by giving you a quick explanation of what exactly raw means: Raw denim is basically denim in its purest form. There is no washing after the indigo dying process, which means that the fabric will be a very deep, dark shade of blue and will be a lot stiffer than the washed equivalent.
You might be wondering why anyone would want that, but there is a good reason. With raw denim you will over time get a completely unique pair of jeans. The colour will fade dramatically from areas which get a lot of wear, such as thighs, knees, backs of knees and so on. While it’s true that you can buy pre-faded jeans they will never be able to replicate the look you get from fading a pair yourself. With that in mind here are a few things to remember when you take the plunge and go raw.
UN-SANFORIZED VS. SANFORIZED
It’s very important that you know the difference between these two words before you make your purchase. Put simply, sanforized denim has been pre-shrunk and un-sanforized denim has not. This means that un-sanforized jeans will shrink drastically on their first wash, so in order to combat this you’ll need to give them a soak after you’ve bought them (not before, obviously). The best way to do this is to fill your bathtub with warm water (not too warm or you risk losing colour), pop your new jeans on and hop in the tub for a couple of minutes. After doing this, hop out, remove the jeans, turn them inside-out and place them back into the water, flat. Leave them to soak for 1-2 hours. Once done you should hang them upside-down to dry.
Possibly the most difficult part of switching to raw denims is the amount of time you need to wear them for without washing. Those in the know recommend a minimum of 6 months of as much wear as possible and absolutely no washing. Some denim nerds even sleep in theirs to maximize wear time but perhaps that’s a step too far. When you do finally come to washing them make sure you turn them inside-out, soak them in cool water for 45 minutes with a small amount of detergent, rinse and then hang to dry upside down to reduce shrinkage.
When you’ve put that much effort into getting your jeans just right the last thing you want to do is risk losing the fade pattern that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. It’s for this reason that you should avoid folding your denim, or even worse, just throwing it on the floor in a crumpled pile. What you need to do is invest in some proper trouser hangers so that you can hang them up in a wardrobe. This will save them from gaining any unwanted crease marks.
It goes without saying that if you’re wearing jeans for 6 months straight without washing them, you are more than likely going to encounter the odd stain, spillage or just a bit of a musty smell from time to time. If this occurs it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wash them, in fact that should be avoided at all costs. In order to keep jeans fresh without washing, what you need to do is carefully fold them, place them in a zip-loc bag and pop them in the freezer over night. When you take them out in the morning they’ll be smelling as fresh as the day they were bought. If you encounter a stain (heaven forbid) don’t panic, just lay your jeans on a flat surface, wet a cloth with water as cold as possible and gently dab the affected area until the stain is gone. So there you have it. Follow those tips and you’ll be a denim god in no time.