It’s a tricky question — how to get the most out of your raw denim? After all, the blue jean is perhaps the most ubiquitous style in a guy’s closet. And it certainly pays to get to know the blue jean in its purest form — that is, by digging into how to care for raw denim, what it is exactly, and how to get the most out of it. While it might at first seem intimidating to step into tough raw denim, it’s like anything in menswear — practice makes perfect.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF RAW DENIM
The history of raw denim itself has murky beginnings, as the classic raw denim pair of jeans was likely in rotation for workers and tradesmen before Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis secured the first patent for a pair of blue jeans. Durable, stiff and crafted of 100 percent cotton, jeans were the working man’s pant, reinforced with rivets at key stress points and able to take on nearly anything.
Denim took its place among staples endorsed by real-life rebels (and guys like James Dean) following World War II and into the ‘50s. And in the decades since then, it can be argued that every significant cultural movement — from British mods to NYC punk rockers — has embraced denim in its own way.
Image via Kaufmann Mercantile
DEALING WITH INDIGO DYE AND CARING FOR YOUR JEANS
Raw denim today is much the same — that is, likely the hardest-wearing set of pants in your closet. Their durability is as great as their styling potential. Raw denim gets its name from the fact that it’s, well, raw — the cotton denim is unwashed, giving it a heavier, more rigid and “crispy” feel.
This also means that it retains its original indigo dye — thus, the characteristic “bleeding,” or transfer of the dye onto lighter surfaces. The more you wear your denim, the more it breaks in (creating wear marks known as “fades). Over time, the dye continues to fade away, transferring to other surfaces. And the longer you wear them, the more they break in — and transfer dye, unfortunately. Want to avoid that characteristic dye transfer?
To start, some soak their jeans in a tub with bath water, using a soap like Woolite. It’s a multi-step process that includes soaking the jeans for anywhere between 35-55 minutes. Note that your denim will shrink slightly after wearing. The process ends simply enough — with hang-drying your jeans. There are in-depth denim resources that offer a full guide when it comes to how to clean your denim, but we’re in favor of spot-cleaning mixed with a good tub soak as needed.
Image via Kaufmann Mercantile
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR DENIM
And with the washing process complete, it’s only a matter of getting the most out of your denim. In this case, we think that means wearing them with as many different style combos as you can, as long as you can. Try your new pair of raw denim with a simple grey pocket tee and light blue canvas sneakers, and keep them on-hand to wear throughout the work week with an unstructured navy blazer and your best brown leather boots. They’ll work particularly well as a fall and winter style option, as the heavier fabric and rugged good looks of raw denim teams up nicely with shawl-collar cardigans, classic Oxfords, herringbone blazers … you get the picture.
The style world is your oyster with raw denim — as long as you know how to care for them properly and style them, you’ll be set for changing seasons ahead.
Image via Sohu