The World of Raw Denim Fandom

Jeremy Wilson went seven months before washing a pair of new jeans. It wasn’t to prove that you don’t have to wash jeans, but because of a very specific aim -to make them one-of-a-kind. Wilson explored the internet niche community of raw denim. Serious blue jean aficionados skip pre-washed jeans and distressed jeans because the wear marks have nothing to do with the person who wears them every day. Instead, they customize unwashed denim.  

Raw denim is sometimes known as dry denim because the washing process has been skipped, leaving them stiff with starch and dark with dye. That’s why the first wash is so important. With pre-washed denim, the dye comes off uniformly during the first wash because the jeans haven’t been worn. But the longer you wait to wash a pair of raw denim jeans, the longer they can’t absorb the wear and creases of everyday life. When they are finally washed the dye will come off unevenly; more will come off the worn bits of denim, revealing “fades.”

This process has obvious aesthetic values that are impossible to replicate with pre-washed denim. No matter how hard designer labels try to get sandblasters to replicate the look of a worn pair of jeans, it will never look as natural as the fading causing by by months of hard wear.

I’m not sure how necessary this is- I always managed to get a personal fade on non-prewashed denim in a few months by wearing them and washing them every week or so. But that’s just the beginning of the finer points of raw denim. There’s also the quest for finding and identifying the rare artisanal fabric, getting the hem right, and showing off your rawness by flashing the selvage. Read move about the raw denim community at The Daily Dot.

(Image credit: Jeremy Wilson)

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Even when it comes to prewashed denim, I only wash when it's absolutely necessary. I have a pair of jeans that's a year and a half old, that is wearing through on the belt loops, and I've only washed them 4 times.
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