Raw denim has been making a huge comeback over the last ten years. The landscape of jeans has changed from everyone wearing pre-distressed and washed jeans, to consumers seeking out denim in it's purest form. Pre-washed denim became very dominant in North America before this shift, but people are starting to realize the benefits of owning a proper pair of raw denim. Washed denim can sometimes be a bit too boring. We've all picked up a pair of washed or pre-distressed jeans before. These jeans typically all go through the exact same process, leading to identical pairs and thus creating a huge lack in originality. Raw denim is awesome due to the fact that no two pairs will ever look the same. Everyone's got their own lifestyles and routines. Depending on the activities or events that you indulge in while wearing your pair, they will fade accordingly. As fun as it is to wear in your new pair of denim, you need to make sure that you're treating it with the proper love and care that each pair deserves. Thankfully Boys'Co has some useful tips to ensure that your raw denim ages just the right way.
The first step is to pick out a pair of raw denim that you like. If you're having troubles finding jeans, take a look at our previous post on finding the perfect pair of denim here. More specifically take a look at the raw denim segment to give you some ideas.
One thing to note about raw denim as opposed to pre-distressed denim are the price points. A good pair of raw denim will be more costly than a regular pair, but is well worth the investment. You could pick up several cheap pairs of jeans or get a quality pair of raw denim that can be worn for years to come. Purchasing a pair of raw denim is one thing, but taking care of them properly is a whole other battle. Some of the biggest questions that people will ask regarding raw denim is wether to soak or not to soak? At what point to wash the denim? How to get rid of smell?
Soaking is referred to the initial process of washing your jeans. Soaking is not necessary, but it does hold some benefits that you may want to consider. When it comes to soaking your denim, it is important to know wether or not the denim is sanforized or not. Sanforized simply refers to the jeans being pre-shrunk. If your raw denim is sanforized, there is no need to soak your denim. We do however recommend slightly sizing down for sanforized denim, since they will stretch a bit. If the raw denim is non-sanforized, we recommend going with your true size or even sizing up. If you can't try on a pair before you purchase it, take a look at online forums and find information on how your brand of choice fits to give you a better idea. If your denim is non-sanforized, soaking them is probably a good idea. So what are the benefits of soaking your denim? First off, since the jeans are non-sanforized, they will shrink. Soaking the denim before wear will ensure that it will shrink to its 'true' form. This is why we recommend sizing up on non-sanforized denim, to make up for the shrinkage.
Once you have your hands on a pair of non-sanforized denim that you like, it's time for the soaking process. The first step is to fill a bathtub with warm water. You will want enough water in there to be able to submerge the denim completely. It's important to note that the warmer the water is, the more the denim will shrink (if non-sanforized). Warmer water will also result in a bigger loss of indigo. Next you will want to turn the denim inside out and lay it flat in the tub for 1-2 hours. Make sure that the denim is fully submerged into the water. If it's floating up to the surface, you can fill up plastic water bottles and rest them on top of the denim. It is important not to move the denim during this process as this could lead to unnecessary loss of indigo.
After the soak its time to air dry the denim. The last thing you want to ever do with a quality pair of denim is to put them in the dryer. Hang dry the jeans outdoors, or indoors if its raining using clips. Avoid folding your wet denim at all costs! Folding your wet denim can lead to unnatural fading lines. The next step is to put the jeans on while they're still a bit damp. This process will help the jeans shape to your body and stretch out appropriately. Once this process is completed, it's time to go on with your life as you would before you owned a pair of raw denim. Wear them to school, work, parties, dinners, concerts, and watch them slowly become unique to your lifestyle. Sure pure raw denim is pretty to look at but theres nothing more satisfying than owning a nicely aged pair of denim that has been faded based on your lifestyle.
After several weeks of wear you will probably ask yourself the number one question that all raw denim owners ask themselves at one point or another. When is it time to wash my jeans? You've probably heard raw denim fanatics talk about how you should NEVER wash your jeans. The reason behind this is that washing a pair of raw denim can lead to excessive loss of indigo dye and ruin fades that the wearer is trying to accomplish. The drawback of not washing your jeans is that eventually it will start to smell funky. Maybe not after the first few months but the more you wear them, the dirtier they will get. If you're comfortable with not washing your jeans for a prolonged amount of time then by all means go for it, but if the jeans do get too dirty you should seriously consider giving them a wash. Washing your jeans after the first 4 months is completely fine as long as they need to be washed. But ideally you should try and keep them stain free to prolong the period between the initial soak and the first wash.
Knowing when your jeans are ready for their first wash can be hard to identify. The main reason as to why most people wash their raw denim is due to a large stain that just wont come out or the odour of their jeans.
If you decide not to wash your raw denim here are a few tips as to how to take care of them properly. For your everyday stains, nothing works better than Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. If odour is the issue, put the jeans into the freezer for several hours and that should kill off any smelly bacteria.
If you decide to wash your raw denim there are several ways that you could go about it.
The simplest way is to turn them inside out and simply wash them in cold water. Always make sure to wash them by themselves especially when they are new raw jeans to avoid indigo bleeding onto your other clothes. Make sure to use about 1/8th of the regular amount of detergent you would normally use. After the wash make sure not to throw them into the dryer as this could completely ruin the fit of the jeans. Once they're out of the washing machine, simply hang the denim indoors or outdoors and let it air dry. During the drying process, you could put on the damp denim to prevent drastic shrinkage and allow the denim to once again form to your body.
It's important to note that raw denim will take some time to truly transform into a beautiful piece of garment. You cannot rush a pair of denim to fade faster, you can however wear them as much as possible to achieve quicker fades. After years of regular wear, you will barely even recognize your jeans anymore. What was once a deep dark blue colour will now appear much lighter, with various fading depending on your lifestyle and movement.
Now that we've walked you through the process of taking care of your raw denim, take a look at some of our favourite pairs of raw denim.
First up we have the heavyweight Naked & Famous Elephant 5's. We call these heavyweights due to the fact that they weigh in at a staggering 20oz. If you're looking for a pair to wear during the colder months, it might be a good idea to invest in something heavier such as these.
Another great pair of denim is the fan favourite Nudie Thin Finn Dry Ecru Embo jeans. These jeans are much more comfortable than the Naked & Famous elephants due to its 10oz construction and stretch fabric. So even though these jeans are slim fit, they will be nice and comfortable to break into.
Our third recommendation is the Nudie Thin Finn in Black Ring raw denim. These jeans come in a dark and bold black raw denim dye. They are slightly heavier than the Ecru Embo jeans and a lot lighter than the Elephant 5's. Weighing in at 12oz, these jeans are ideal to wear throughout the year.