A Beginner's Guide To Raw Denim
WHAT IS RAW DENIM?
Raw denim is denim in its purest form. Also known as “dry denim”, raw denim remains untouched after the dyeing and/or sanforization process and is not washed or chemically treated. Not only does raw denim last longer, but it is also more eco and labor-friendly due to the lack of chemicals and water used when it's manufactured.
Raw denim is perfect for those seeking a customized look, as the fading process is natural, authentic, and personalized. By leaving the fabric in its original state, it is ultimately the wearer that determines the aging characteristics of their jeans.
WHAT IS SELVAGE DENIM?
Selvage denim is created with fabric produced through a weaving process where the shuttle loom passes back and forth during weaving. Since the yarn is not cut, the selvage is tightly bound and forms a clean edge, resulting in a crisp edge that can be seen when the jeans are cuffed.
SANFORIZED VS. UNSANFORIZED DENIM
Sanforized denim has been stretched, fixed, and shrunk in length at the mill. This is done to reduce the amount of shrinkage that can happen after your jeans’ first wash. The result of sanforization leads to 1-3% shrinkage, as opposed to 10% shrinkage with unsanforized (shrink to fit) denim.
- Jeans made from sanforized denim go through the process of pre-shrinking at the mill, meaning you don’t have to size up when buying your jeans. People prefer sanforized jeans for this exact reason and feel more comfortable buying jeans they know will fit
- Unsanforized (shrink-to-fit) denim does not go through a shrinking process, meaning you’ll have to size up appropriately to compensate for the amount of shrinkage that will happen after the first wash
- Undergoing the process of sanforization not only affects the sizing of your denim but the texture of it as well. This process of stretching and shrinking will lead to smoother-looking denim
- Unsanforized denim retains its rougher characteristics, as it remains unaltered until the day it is purchased
FIND YOUR JEAN DIMENSIONS
The distance around your waist. To measure your waist size, lay your denim on a flat surface and measure across the back top of the waistband and multiply by two
The length from the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg. To measure your inseam, measure from the center of the crotch seam along the interior seam of the leg until you reach the bottom of the leg
To determine the leg opening, measure horizontally across the bottom of the jean leg and multiply by two
FRONT & BACK RISE
The distance from the middle of the crotch seam to the top of the waistband. To measure your pant rise, measure vertically from the crotch seam to the top of the waistband with your denim facing up for the front rise and facing down for the back rise
HOW TO BREAK IN RAW DENIM
The process of breaking in a new pair of raw denim takes time, as rigid denim requires time to soften and mold to your body. Of course, the best way to make the jeans unique to you and your life is to wear them daily and incorporate them into your daily routine. For those in a hurry, try biking, soaking, or doing lunges.
HOW TO CARE FOR RAW DENIM
SOAKING YOUR RAW DENIM
The main reason to soak sanforized denim before wearing it is to remove some of the wax and starch in the finish of the denim. To soak your raw denim:
Fill a tub with water (cold water for sanforized, hot for unsanforized)
- Turn your jeans inside out and fully submerge your jeans in the water. If parts of your denim float to the surface, put some weight over it
- Let your denim soak for one to two hours. The water might look kind of murky afterward but don’t worry, your denim is fine
- Take your denim out of the tub and squeeze the excess water out
- Air-dry your denim. The denim will still be rigid but will break in quicker now that the starch has been removed
WASHING YOUR RAW DENIM
Our recommended washing method is to turn the jeans inside out and wash them in cold water and air dry them. The cold water wash can either be done in a tub by hand or in a front loading machine on the hand wash or delicate cycle. Top-loading machines tend to spin the jeans too aggressively which can lead to streaks in the denim where the jeans rub against themselves.
Regardless of the washing method, air drying is essential. Air drying helps the jeans retain the custom fit you obtain through months of wear when starting with rigid denim.
REMOVING DENIM STAINS
When it comes to raw denim, the indigo color can easily rub off and stain any surface it comes in contact with, especially when it gets damp from rain or sweat. To minimize indigo bleeding (also known as crocking) altogether, do not get the denim wet or rub it against any easily stained surfaces.