Q&A: 6 Steps for Raw and Selvedge Denim Care

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This question comes from Aries Magazine (which I also am the fashion director for) and I felt that it needed a little more in depth explanation. You can find plenty of great articles in their upcoming December issue!

Question:

I am always afraid to wash my jeans. I want them to look the way they did when I bought them. How can I keep them that way?

Answer:

I was originally introduced to raw denim through Nappi Jeans. (Here is a pair that I would buy today!) I wish that I still had my first pair because they would have quite the story to tell. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that caring for this type of jean is a completely different process. They ended up fading and I didn’t like the look after less than a year of having them. Not because there was anything wrong with the jean, it was everything to do with how I was washing them.

There are a few techniques for keeping raw and selvedge denim looking brand new. My favorite quick way to refresh a pair is to put them in the freezer next to some baking soda. The cold helps to kill any odors and the baking soda makes sure that none of the food odors end up in the clothes. Just leave the jeans in the freezer, rolled up like a sleeping bag, overnight. Let them roll out and enjoy them for the next couple of weeks before you’ll have to repeat this process.

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If you are looking for a more long term solution, follow these steps. They aren’t as instantly gratifying, but they will help to keep your jeans in good shape for a very long time.

STEP ONE: SOAK IT

Go ahead and fill your bathtub with enough water to submerge the denim completely. I prefer to use cold water because I feel that you will lose less color that way. Take a washcloth to any stains that you need to get out. If you find that the stain is being stubborn, wait until the jeans are dry. I’ll cover what to do in a future step.

STEP TWO: DRY IT

Don’t ever ever EVER put your jeans into the dryer. Traditional washing methods cause the fibers in jeans to break down, which will cause your jeans to last a lot less time. If you’ve spent $200 on a pair of jeans, I’m sure you will want more than one year of wear out of them.

STEP THREE: STRETCH IT

After some time has gone by, it’s time to put the jeans on. The jeans should still be a little bit damp. They’ll feel pretty tight because everything will have started to shrink. Don’t worry, this is temporary and will help to give the jeans a more fitted look.

STEP FOUR: WEAR IT

It’s time to show the world your new look. Wear them out and style them up. Cuff the bottoms. (This is something that everyone was doing at New York Fashion Week.) Try a new pattern with them. Wear them to work and transition to a night out to dinner seamlessly. Dark, raw, jeans always look good in nearly every social situation.

STEP FIVE: DON’T WASH IT

Try to go as long as humanly possible without washing your jeans. This will help them to retain that “crunchiness” that raw denim is supposed to have. You’ll keep the indigo dye saturated and they will continue to look as good as the day you bought them.

As I said, there may be some stains that are a little bit stubborn. I have found that a Mr. Clean Magic Erase does wonders without affecting the color of the jeans. Just don’t scrub too hard.

STEP SIX: FADE IT

That worn in look is going to take a little bit of time. That’s okay because the ever changing look of the jeans is going to keep it interesting. Your jeans will tell a story about you. One of my pairs of jeans has an outline fade of where I always put my phone. I love that it has this little detail because that’s part of my daily life. I also have a scrape on one leg from a trip to Mexico. Let your jeans keep a diary for you. They may just end up as a conversation piece.

If you have a question, go ahead and send me one HERE!