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Raw denim- the Marmite of the fashion world; you either love it or hate it. We however, love raw denim at, and have created this handy blog to give you some tips to ensure that you get the most out of your raw denims.

What is raw denim?

Raw denim is denim in its purest form. The denim hasn't been washed or treated since it's first and only indigo dying process-which is why on it's first few wears, it feels rigid and rough. The raw, basic nature of the material means that you essentially have a living material on your hands, that is highly susceptible to change. You will find over time that the indigo on your raw jeans will fade, creating features on your jeans that are completely unique to you and how you wear your raw denims. For example, you might find that you'll have an outline of your phone where you've kept it in your pocket-or a light section on your backside where you've been sat on your chair at the office all day. Die hard denim heads have even been known to sleep in their raw jeans! Ultimately, raw denim is your chance to create a pair of completely unique jeans- and tell your life story through the denim you wear everyday.

How do I develop features on my raw jeans?

The key to developing a truly unique pair of raw denims is patience. Miracles don't happen over night-and if someone tells you that their raw denims have changed that quickly, then they're probably lying. You should stop talking to them immediately and continue being a patient soul. When you first get your pair of raw's, you'll feel a little bit like you're wearing cardboard trousers. This is normal, and you'll find that they will soften and ease off after a day or two's wear. Raw denim needs breaking in (a bit like a good pair of brogues), before they become comfy enough to be the favourite pair in your wardrobe. And they will be your favourites-because to get the best results, you should wear your raw jeans day in, day out, none stop for at least 6 months. (We'll answer your "what about the smell?!" question later). Make sure that you do not change your day to day activities because of your jeans-no matter how much you love them. Raw denim is incredibly tough, thanks to the fact it's not been messed about with dyes and fades. With this in mind, you can go crazy. Wear them to mow the lawn, wear them to paint the spare room, wear them to walk the dog in-you can not do enough in them, or wear them for too long. The more you do, the better your characteristics will be after your first wash:

Check out Matt's pair of Nudie Slim Jim's, 15 months old with one wash, complete with paint splats...

And the leg fade of Ryan's Nudie Thinn Finns, 9 months old, one wash...

Now, about that smell…

If you've decided to be a die hard raw denim head, and have been putting off washing your raw jeans for some time, you may start to notice a nice, flavoursome scent flowing from your beloved jeans. If this is the case, well done! It's good to know that you've been putting some serious man hours into wearing your jeans. So what to do about that aroma… The first thing to point out here is that this is not an excuse to prematurely wash your jeans. Absolutely not. There are ways around this without affecting the natural changing process of your denims:
  • Hang them on the line- let Mother nature do the work and fingers crossed the wind will whisk the scent away after a few hours.
  • Give them the deep freeze-Yep. You heard. Leave them in your freezer over night and thaw them out the next day. The freezing temperatures kill the bacteria creating the smells, leaving you fresh and free of odours.
  • Get your hands on some spray- Try fabric cleaners if you've got areas that need some concentrated TLC. This could be viewed as cheating in some peoples eyes-but if needs must.
  • Fight through it- Ignore the smell and be grateful that people won't want to sit next to you on the train... you'll get to wash them soon anyway.

Six months later…

Congratulations. You made it. Six months heavy wear and you can finally wash your raw denims. But wait- don't go thinking you can just chuck them in the wash with the rest of your wardrobe. Remember that this denim has never been washed-so the colour is going to run and bleed, resulting a big loss of colour. You've got a few choices on how you wash your jeans, from the completely normal to the down right extreme:
  • Chuck them in the washing machine-Use next to no wash powder and was them inside out (according to your jeans care instructions). Easy.
  • Get them in the bath-Fill your bath with enough warm water to submerge your jeans. Use a little wash powder and get some weights to keep them down. Rotate them occasionally, but make sure that they don't leave the water for around an hour.
  • Go for a the sea-Not joking. The salt in the sea water can help lock some of the indigo in- plus you can get the added benefit of a roll in the sand before hand to give your denims even more of a characteristic. Crazy, but what a story!

Picking a pair to wear- and learning to care

So now you know what owning a pair of raw jeans means, it's time to consider which pair you are going to go for. Experts in the raw denim field, Nudie Jeans and Edwin come highly recommended: You'll find amazing skinny fits in: You'll find loads of regular and tapered shapes in a raw denim too:

Inevitably, your jeans are going to suffer some serious strain due to the way in which you wear them. Look after them like a best friend. Check them regularly for signs of wear and tear, especially around the crotch and seat of the jean. If you're starting to see some signs of stress you can attempt your own repair, or send them to a seamstress.

The choice is yours-would you want to operate on your best mate?! If like us the answer is hell yes- then check out this handy little repair guide by Nudie.

Ryan J Gray


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