Raw Denim Care Guide
NEW TO RAW DENIM?
RELAX, WE'LL EXPLAIN
WASH / DRY
Raw denim is at its very best left unwashed, in its raw state.
This allows the cotton to become an organic map of the wearer’s body, recorded in fabric.
Unique abrasion patterns, wear and “whiskering" will appear over time as the fabric shifts and settles to your body; the longer the denim is kept dry the more developed and indelible these one-of-a-kind features become. Knees, ankles and crotch will develop wear and fading, which can be accelerated with grease or oil treatments.
With this in mind, raw denim’s first wash should be put off for as long as possible (if at all). 6 months is considered the minimum time to let natural creases form in the fabric, but many true denim aficionados opt out of washing their raw denim altogether.
Stuffing pockets with tumble dryer sheets or hanging jeans outside over night are ways to combat smell without compromising the true nature of raw denim.
Whether you wash them within 3 months or 3 years, never dry these pants in a dryer. We recommend you air dry ALL denim, but especially Raw Denim, to preserve the strength of the fabric.
As creases and contours mature, dry denim will fall into them naturally when you take them off. The easiest storage is to unbuckle your jeans and leave them where they fall. Yes, you heard us (sorry mom).
Aged, unsanforized denim can be hung to air without creases falling out.
Traditionally before denim is woven, the threads are treated with wax or resin to stiffen them and make them easier to weave (although with most repro denim starch is used instead). When dry denim is washed for the first time, the fibers constrict and the denim shrinks.
Raw denim can be sanforized (treated with a sanforizing process that lessens shrinkage) but all raw denim will shrink to some degree upon immersion in water, up to its third wash.
Raw, unsanforized denim (untreated with the sanforizing process that minimizes shrinkage) will reduce in size between 10% and 30% over its first three washes, even when washed cold (the best way to keep shrinkage to a minimum). This is only an approximation however; shrinkage varies from brand to brand and even from style to style. If dry denim has been pre-treated (sanforized), shrinkage is greatly reduced – from the 10%-20% of unsanforized raw denim to an approximate 3-5%. Again, this shrinkage occurs predominantly over the first three washes.
Rinsing denim before its first wear has practical advantages – mainly that any loose, transferable indigo that can stain your hands and light car seats, will be minimized.
The majority of starch will be removed during the rinse, so creases and whiskers will be softer. However, this softer worn look is also a popular fade. Also, a softer crease reduces the chance of fabric breakage.
With that said, the deep indigo hue is precious. Therefore jeans should not be washed if possible.
Even if they’re worn all day they shouldn’t smell too bad.
If they do need a clean, the home-remedy is to leave them hanging on the porch over a cold night, or through them in the freezer. Another alternative is a proper denim laundry service; they should be able to bake them to kill bacteria without shrinkage.
If you do chose to wash your denim use as little soap as possible. Neutral or non-biological washing powders are best. Biological washing powder contains enzymes that preserve your denim.
A Japanese washing and fading method is to take a bath in your jeans after 2 to 3 months of wear. After about 90 days of wear, jump in a lukewarm bath with your jeans on and use a scrubbing brush to create a subtle color fading effect.
A third method known as the ‘reverse technique’ involves wearing your jeans after you have washed them. To try this, prepare water in a bucket between 30c and 40c and steep your jeans in it for 1-2 hours, making sure the jeans are fully submerged. If you like, you can add a tablespoon of salt or vinegar to the water. Afterwards, take the jeans out of the bucket, and wash inside out at 40c without washing agents. Dry the jeans and wear! Using this technique, you should look to undertake your second wash after around 6 months of wear.
DON’T TUMBLE DRY. WE REPEAT, PLEASE DO NOT TUMBLE DRY. EVEN IF YOU WANT SHRINKAGE, IT WILL NOT BE EVEN.
To maintain consistent color, air dry indigo jeans flat. The dye can ‘marble’ when it’s wet if the denim’s resting unevenly. Dry thoroughly, it can take denim up to 2 days to air dry.
To air dry indoors you need a well-ventilated room or airing cupboard. To air dry outside, place them flat under shade on a cool day.
Never place directly onto a heat source such as a radiator, this will damage fabric and its finish.
RULE OF THUMB: LAY FLAT, ALLOW JEANS TO DRY AS NATURALLY AS POSSIBLE
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