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In These Jeans l Denim Yesterday, Today, and in Your Closet

Blue jeans — a staple in every man, woman and child’s closet, a timeless icon, a piece of history, a signature of effervescent youth, an era of your life locked into the weaves of blue and white.

Some of the earliest jeans were made in 1873, and were originally made as workwear for miners, cowboys and even the U.S. army. They were a symbol of American culture and the Old West. This simple garment started becoming popular to teenagers throughout the years, and evolved from dungarees to bootcut jeans to tube leg drainpipe models to the present day interpretation of the five pocket jean. Regardless of where they were worn —on the runways of a Geller show, or in Japanese magazines for aficionados of Americana Culture, the basic five pocket jean is one of the most timeless pieces in your wardrobe, season after season after season.

While there is so much behind a pair of jeans —the cut, details, hardware, heritage, construction, etc, one of the deciding factors when purchasing denim is no doubt the fabric used.

In the recent 5 to 6 years, there has been an undoubted craze over unwashed denim, or otherwise known as raw denim. The rise of this can be attributed to the early adopters before this trend wave, empowered by the online presence of forums such as Superfuture and Styleforum.

The every man’s essential suddenly took an identity of its own and became the focus in every teenage boy’s life and turned it into a wet dream for them.

As the trend became more widespread, people were more informed about the choices they were making, and were more aware of their purchasing habits.

Within the community, people who purchased raw denim could be broken down into different subcultures according to their brand preferences. There are people who favoured European or Scandinavian-styled fashion denim like Nudie, A.P.C., Naked & Famous, and those who have a penchant for Japanese brands like LVC, Evisu, Studio D’Artisan, Real Mccoy’s, and Denime.

Even within the different subcultures, it could be further broken down. Terms like Selvage, Roping, Chainstitching, Traintracks, Whiskering, Honeycombs, Rivets, Arcs were added into the denim lover’s dictionary over time.

With the abundance of information available on the internet as well as the widespread word-of-mouth, some myths such as not washing your jeans for 6 months, sizing down on your jeans by at least 2 sizes, giving your jeans a boiling soak, came to light.

Due to the nature of raw denim having shrink-and-stretch properties, as well as improper handling of information, these misinterpretations resulted in a fair number of unhappy purchases from consumers.

To myth bust these misinformation once and for all, here are some quick tips on making sure that your purchases will be a fitting one.

  • Always find out if what you are purchasing is Sanfornized or Unsanfornized.

    Sanfornization is a process to minimize shrinkage. However, Sanfornized denim can shrink up to an inch and stretch back out an inch after wear.

    Unsanfornized denim however can shrink up to 3 inches and subsequently stretch out an inch again after wear. So always pick the right size. Check with your retailer as different jeans have different shrinking and expanding properties.

  • Always give your raw denim a hot soak (hottest water from your shower, not boiling water) for 45 minutes to an hour with light agitation in between before you wear them for the first time. This is to ensure that the fading you develop through wear, does not “move” after your first wash.
  • You do not have to buy special detergent to wash your jeans. As long as the detergent is bleach-free, you will be fine. However, please wash all raw denim separate from other clothing because the indigo will stain fabrics.
  • Do not wait 6 months to wash your jeans. Denim, which is weaved from cotton, is a naturally occurring plant. Wash your jeans regularly to prevent wear and tear, as bacteria eats away at your denim when it is dirty.
  • High contrast fading (definition fading) is achieved by high level abrasion at specific areas, not by the amount of time you wear your jeans unwashed.
  • If you can’t button everything up before you soak them, you can’t wear them after you do.

Having said that, a pair of raw jeans is like a second skin —it ages with your daily wear, a true reflection of your daily lifestyle.


– Ranon Yu


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