I get a lot of enquiries about washing raw denim too soon, so I thought I’d write a quick post on my experiences.
Unfortunately, once raw denim has been washed using a washing machine, the cotton fibres break down and permanently change. The die also becomes set. This means that if you pulled the trigger and washed them too soon, the colour will pretty much remain uniform for the rest of the jeans life.
There will be fading in the high-friction areas such as the thigh and back pocket area over time, but not to the same speed and degree of contrast as if the jeans had been left to be worn unwashed for 6 months or so. This makes the whole process of wearing in the jeans all that more important.
These are almost two years old and have had a fair amount of use. They were washed after 3 months. As usual, I became impatient and wanted to shrink the jeans a little as they had stretched out. They are made from very soft Italian selvedge denim. They were a 36″ waist (I am normally a 34″) and in the shop and were fairly snug fit. However the soft denim stretched out unusually quickly. I like the jeans now but they could have been a lot better if I had left them longer. Also, now knowing how much they stretched, I should have gone for the 34″ pair. You can see from the photos that the fading is fairly uniform and unspectacular.
A.P.C. New Standard
These jeans were a disaster from the get go and I regret buying them! I only say this because I just don’t like the cut – they are way too loose around the calf. They are made from Chinese selvedge denim, which goes very very soft after its first wash and stretches a ridiculous amount very quickly.
I was not aware of this when I bought them but subsequent research on the web confirms you must size down a lot with these jeans. They had about 2 months light wear before washing. Regrettably I washed them way too soon as the stretching had gone crazy and they had become unwearable, like some 80’s pair of 501’s. Some slight fading and the odd whisker had occurred before washing, but not enough. Now they just look awful and I have to be honest, the quality of the denim is pretty poor. I’ll probably give these jeans away as they just don’t get worn now.
Not All Selvedge is the SAME…
Prior to the A.P.C’.’s pair and the NS, I have always bought jeans made from Japenese selvedge denim. It tends to be a very tough durable denim that stretches very little from the outset. I normally go for 16oz denim. If it has been saniforized then you can size to fit and hopefully that will be that. There will be a degree of stretching over the months before the first wash, but not enough to ruin the original look and once washed, will shrink back a little.
After these two pairs I will never buy non-Japanese denim again, or I’ll seriously think twice about it. The quality is just not the same and brands seem to be jumping on the selvedge/raw denim bandwagon. See my review on the Edwin ED-71‘s. These are still going strong and I love them and the jeans fit great – the fades are looking awesome even after 3 months. These are jeans made by a company that knows how to make denim…