The 4 Biggest Misconceptions About Raw Denim

Over the last decade or so, heritage workwear, and subsequently raw denim saw a boom in popularity. People found an appeal in clothing that looks like it could possibly last them decades. But with the amount of enthusiasts entering the kingdom of denimheads each year, there are bound to be misconceptions that get spread around. Here are some of the most common.

[Further reading: What Is Raw Selvedge Denim?]

1. You Should Never Wash Your Raw Denim

Perhaps the biggest myth that gets pushed around by denim heads is that you should not wash your raw denim. You should most definitely wash your denim — when you need to. Far too many people echo the misconception that washing your raws will ruin the fabric, or the fades. While it is true that consistent washing can hinder the fading process, it is far worse to let bacteria deteriorate the garment’s fibers. Many “denimheads” suggest wearing your denim for at least six months before the initial wash. But if you spill some creamer on your raws during your morning caffeine fix, wash them.

How you wash your denim is dependent on a number of factors that includes but is not limited to what kind of grime it has, what material it is made from and whether or not the jeans have been pre-shrunk. But to say they should never, ever be washed is an exaggeration to say the least.

Naked and Famous Denim Soaking

2. Never Wear Your Raw Denim In the Rain 

Closely related to the previous myth, there is are quite a few people who argue against wearing raw denim in the rain because it might ruin the fades. This may be a problem for those living in Seattle or London where it precipitates heavily and often. However for those of us who live in places with milder climate, a few droplets or even splashes of rain will not set the indigo in. In the chance that you are stuck in a total downpour, though, it’s worth seeking cover underneath a storefront. When you can, hang-dry your jeans and wear as is the next day. They will continue to fade and age beautifully over time.

Warning: If your jeans get wet, you may experience indigo bleeding on your kicks.That is fine and part of the process.

3. You Can’t Wear Raw Denim In The Summer Because It Is To Hot

You can most certainly wear raw denim in the summertime. If you live in a hotter climate, then opt for raws that are made from twill that has a breathable weave. We suggest raw denim made with 2×1 weave twill. In simple terms, this just means that for every two weft threads, there is one warp thread in the fabric.

Traditionally jeans most jeans are made with 3×1 twill. Jeans of this type tends to be more rigid and heavier making it less ideal for the summer heat.

Listed below are great options for lightweight denim for the upcoming summer months.

  • Gustin: #232 JAPAN 2X1 (9oz) – $89
  • Japan Blue: JB0408 PREMIUM ZIMBABWE COTTON TAPERED (10oz) – $124
  • Naked & Famous: Featherweight Dungaree Selvedge Weird Guy Jean (8oz) – $163
  • Rogue Territory: SK Denim (11oz) – $230

There are many great options out there that come in different cotton types and at different price points. There is a little something for everyone.

[Get the lightest weight denim, Naked & Famous’ Featherweight, on Amazon here!]

pure blue japan fades jeans selvedge

4. Raw Denim Is Uncomfortable

Breaking in a pair of raws is like breaking in a pair of boots. It takes time and wear. At first, the process could get getting used to, especially if you start with a heavyweight denim like the sought after 21oz. Iron Hearts. (We don’t recommend them as your first pair.) However as you wear it more often, your jeans will become more comfortable and mold to the way you live. Stress points will fade, soften up, and will eventually feel like second skin.

If you are new to the denim game, start with something in the lighter weight class. You can go for the summer weight jeans listed above or a denim weight similar to the jeans that you are used to. Most “regular jeans” fall in the 12-14oz category. These jeans will still feel stiff off the rack but will not hinder your movement like a pair of mint 21oz monsters.

[Check out the 15oz denim from Studio d’Artisan in my review!]

The Takeaway

Getting into raw denim can be a little intimidating at first. You just began your journey and are already overwhelmed by all the Dos and Don’ts. It’s important to know how to care for your denim jeans but it is equally important to not let those guidelines stop you from enjoying them. They are jeans meant to be worn. No matter how you wear them, they will tell a story that is uniquely you.

Featured image via @dutchdenimrepair on Instagram.

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Humphrey Tsui

Humphrey is a native Brooklynite who loves to talk about personal styling! He is an expert on leather, shoe construction, and the history of American pop culture. Message him on Instagram. here!

2 thoughts on “The 4 Biggest Misconceptions About Raw Denim”

  1. Hi I am in my late 50s and I gotta say when my mum got us jeans when we were kids they were well heavy and stiff, you could get these type of jeans right up until I was 15/16 yoa and they were considered the cheap jeans here the soft and easy jeans were more sought after, but I always loved the the harder heavier jeans, as for washing and wearing we just stuck them on wore them till they were well dirty (2 weeks or so) and just hand washed them or dropped them in the twin tub , I think all this fussing and rules about how to wash or special care malarky ruins the whole experience and development of your jeans, the best is just wear and wash old school style and you will get the perfect look and feel over time , jeans are not made to be fussed over, good heavy and hard jeans should be treated just that way rough and ready, that will give you the best and coolest look.

    • Thanks Damian! I honestly don’t try very hard with my denim, I wash them inside out and on their own but otherwise I just don’t care enough to get really crazy with the denim care.


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