Everything You Need to Know About Raw Denim Jeans

raw denim

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Raw denim – what does that even mean? It’s a recent movement showing appreciation for jeans of yesteryears.

Raw denim is denim that has not been altered when it comes off the loom. This means it isn’t washed, treated, or anything thing else that could alter the original appearance.

History of Denim

Denim and the creation of jeans have a rich history and they have always been about the people who wear them. In fact, as far as 1870, denim has been a part of fashion.

Latvian immigrant Jacob Davis was a tailor and he developed a new way to secure stress points in jeans. He used copper rivets, which you can still see in modern jeans, surrounding the pockets.

Miners who mostly wore denim were excited by the prospect of more durable jeans. Eventually Davis reached out to his fabric supplier, Levi Strauss, and they went into business together. They got a patent in 1883 for riveted jeans, which is what we know as jeans today.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that denim began to be more than work pants, it then became the official uniform for Hollywood cowboys.

While feeling like a costume, it exposed denim to the working class.

After WWII jeans became a symbol of counter culture and rebels everywhere donned jeans. Which once again, Hollywood showed in its movies. In the 1970s and 80s is when jeans became a popular staple for everyone and that’s when the artificial distressing movement by big suppliers happened.

Interestingly, during that same period, Japanese denim enthusiasts were collecting old American jeans. They were disappointed with the new manufacturing. They felt that the classic brands lost their way. They started to collect old jeans and created their own raw denim.

7 Things That Are Good to Know About Raw Denim

1. Why People Like It So Much

all you need to know about raw denim
Image via The Idle Man

One of the biggest reasons why people like raw denim so much is that they develop, and age based on what you do in them and to them.

In a sense they become completely customizable to you and your lifestyle. A unique look that a store can’t replicate.

The dark dye will start to fade away in certain spots, depending on how you move. Eventually, even the white cotton core of the denim will show as the yarn wears out. You will end up with a custom fade that is entirely your own.

2. Greater Durability

Since the fabric hasn’t been artificially altered in any way, you get the full life of the fabric. That’s why vintage jeans have lasted for so long.

3. Raw Denim is more Eco and Labor Friendly

It takes a lot of water to grow enough cotton for jeans, but it takes even more for distressing them. It can take up 42 liters per pair of jeans.

Raw jeans also don’t expose workers to harmful chemicals that are often used to distress and wash denim.

4. Greater Value for Your Dollar

Even though raw denim can be more expensive, many wearers of them wear them every day for months or even a year. You’ll get your money’s worth.

5. What Does Selvedge Mean

The term selvedge is talking about the little color lines that you see on the inside of jeans. It is “self-edged” by a shuttle loom and is meant to keep everything from unraveling. Though don’t assume that because it’s selvedge denim it’s raw, any fabric can be woven with it.

6. What is Sanforization

Sanforiztion is the act of steaming and heating that preshrinks fabric before its cut and sewn into jeans. You will find this in most fabrics, even raw jeans.

Unsanforized denim, often called shrink to fit, will shrink anywhere from around 5 to 10 percent the first time it’s washed. Be aware of that if you buy them unsanforized.

7. How to Care for Raw Denim

How to handwash raw jeans
Image via Rope Dye

With raw denim the longer you go without washing the better. The fade that happens naturally does better when the jeans aren’t washed.

So how do you clean them? Some people put their jeans in the freezer to kill any odor causing bacteria, but it’s not proven whether or not it really works.

So, it might best to wash them when you want to. You can use a natural soap or Woolite. Make sure to let it dry naturally.

Final Thoughts on Raw Denim Jeans

There are a lot reasons why you should get raw denim jeans. The complete customization is a very enticing aspect.

But they’re a lot of work, and you should keep this in mind before purchasing.

Places you can buy raw denim jeans are A.P.C. Jeans, Macy’s, and if you want classics check out flea markets.

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