Unlike other denims, raw denim, also called dry denim, is not washed after the color treatment process, thus leaving it up to the owner to create the desired creases and fades according to the owner’s body and activities. Other denims are made to look “distressed” during production, but raw denims, for the purpose of achieving an authentic worn-out look, are worn almost everyday and not washed for more than six months. A lot of effort obviously has to be put in to get the raw denim appeal, and if you are an enthusiast, you naturally like to know how to properly care for your raw denim jeans before the first wash. Here’s how.
- Soak the raw denim jeans in warm water. The first soak will encourage shrinkage and therefore will make the jeans more fit to your body. However, if your jeans are sanforized, meaning it was pretreated and made with the right fit, you need not soak your jeans. Some raw denim aficionados prefer to soak in the tub with the jeans on so that the jeans will shrink according to their body. But this is a personal choice.
- Wash the jeans if necessary. Remember that washing them too soon may remove the indigo dye and starch. However, in case you need to wash them before the recommended six months, do so with extra care. Wash them in cold water using a gentle detergent. What not to use: washer, bleach, and bleach-based soap. When washing, make sure to flip the denim inside out to prevent undesired creases. Immerse the jeans in water and lay them flat.
- Dry the raw denim jeans. Dry by hanging the raw denim jeans on a clothesline and exposing them to the sun. Although this may take two days to dry, the jeans can benefit from the natural bleaching properties of the sun. You can also hang the jeans indoors, but be sure not to place them anywhere near a heat source. This will damage and weaken the fabric fibers. Also, avoid using a dryer as doing so can ruin the fiber, may cause shrinkage, and may change the fit.
- Hang the jeans. Not washing the raw denim jeans for months may cause them to stink and attract bacteria. For this reason, you need to regularly hang and air your jeans within the six-month period. Hang them loose so that no unnecessary creases are formed. Never fold the jeans.
- Starch the raw denim jeans. This is done to stiffen up the fabric and to speed up fading. Starching is usually done once every month and after the first wash or soak. Starching, however, is purely a personal preference. Some raw denim aficionados prefer to remove the natural starchiness of the fabric to make it softer and to achieve a different denim appeal.
To get the worn-out look, you need to wear the raw denim jeans while doing rigorous activities. This will help in fading and in the formation of creases on the legs, crotches, and knees. You can, for instance, run, skate, dance, and do practically anything that will form a crease pattern that follows your body movements.