We have all gone jean shopping and just cannot find a pair that is truly “us”. Either the fit is off, or the wash is not exactly right or they just do not feel right. Well what if you could design a pair of jeans that was completey your own?
Well it turns out you can! I introduce to you raw denim.
Well it turns out you can! I introduce to you raw denim.
So what is Raw Denim?
Raw denim is the purest form of denim. During the creation process, raw denim is simply denim fabric that has not undergone the washing or distressing process that is done with most denim on the market. The biggest difference though, between raw denim and most commercial denim, is its ability to adapt to the wearer – instead of having pre-distressed jeans, the wearer is given a blank slate to create the fading through wear.This individuality is one of the major defining factors of the “sport” of denim: you will never see two wearers with the same pair of jeans. Out of the package, raw denim is stiff with indigo dye and starch, giving the fabric a rich blue color that fades over time. As the denim is worn, each pair forms to the wearer, as if creating a second skin. To simplify, raw denim was the denim worn by all manner of people up until the 1970’s – it is how denim has always been made.
Why Raw Denim?
There are several schools of thought among “denimheads” (devout followers of raw denim). Those who like to save on cash, those who are all about the fades and those who are all about the construction qualities.While there is no definitive way to enjoy raw denim, it can be boiled down to all three. Raw denim is (usually) constructed with higher quality heritage stitching, uses the highest quality denim that is often thicker or higher in weight, the coloring or dye is also often richer and overall a greater attention to the little details that make or break a pair of daily worn jeans is taken.While raw denim has a higher initial cost than its washed counterpart, the lifespan of a pair is far greater than today’s commercial option, making it the most cost effective in the long run. In short, raw denim is to be enjoyed for your own reasons and at your own specifications. You may want to forgo a standard pair of Japanese heavy weight indigo denim for something a bit more fun like Naked and Famous rainbow denim, made with rainbow colored threads under the blue dye. Or even, if you really want something fun, a pair of scratch and sniff denim that smells like mint when rubbed. Raw denim is your own individual pair for your own individual reasons.
How do I select a pair?
This really depends on your thought process and price range. I will attempt to boil down the greatest options depending on your price range and explain the qualities of each type of jean:
The Entry Level
The beginner denim bracket begins right under the $100 mark – this encompasses brands like Unbranded, Naked and Famous and Uniqlo. Regardless of your budget, this is where all budding denimheads should begin their journey. While a pair of Momotaro jeans is a wonderful option for any wearer, the individual nuances and sizing can be daunting for anyone but a polished denimhead.It is recommended that all beginners start with these brands, due to their availability of sizing, ease of fit and ease of care, making them the perfect training wheels. Notable examples in this price range include the Unbranded 201 (voted Rawr Denim’s best beginner pair for the past three years, and costing around $82), Uniqlo’s slim fit selvedge ($39.99) and pairs from Naked and Famous’ mainline including the Elephant 3 ($175), Stretch Selvedge ($155-$165) and Candy Weft ($170-$185). Although any pair from these companies will be a surefire pair for a beginner.
The Denimhead Level
At this level, individual nuances in pairs become important – standard sizing goes out of the window and fabric shrinking makes sizing in the long run difficult. While denimhead jeans can be a great starting pair, it is generally advised only to jump into this boat with a fair amount of research about your sizing and Sanforized preference (that is for another day).At this level, all denim is produced in the first world, be it Japan, Italy or the United States. Characterized by brands like Rogue Territory ($220), 3sixteen ($316-$320), Baldwin ($220), Left Field NYC ($210), Tellason ($220), Japan Blue ($260), Sugar Cane ($265), Nudie ($180) and A.P.C ($185), among many others. At the denimhead level nothing is out of question, from the warp or weft thread color to the stitching color, to the dye color, even to things like the graphic print on the interior pocket bags (however irrelevant). You can literally design these jeans to be truly “one-of-a-kind”.
The “You spent how much on your jeans?” Level
At this price point, just about every facet of the design can be changed. Pricing ranges from $300 all the way to around $2,000, though anything above $800 is a genuine rarity. At this price point even denimheads are surprised about the price. The most notable brands are Momotaro ($315), Samurai ($425), Oni ($285), Pure Blue Japan ($298), Kapital ($564), The Real McCoy ($295) and Eternal ($315), among other more well-known designer brands like Dior ($895) and Saint Laurent ($675). Every element of construction is done to perfection, either entirely in Japan or the United States. Though buying jeans at this price may seem insane, remember these are completely customized and of the highest quality. So just as you would spend a large amount of cash on a custom dress or tuxedo, these jeans are no different.So what are your thoughts on raw denim? Are you interested in customizing your own pair of jeans? With the market saturated with so many types of denims, in so many different washes and fits, it can be hard to find just the right one. Raw denim takes all of that confusion away and gives you a pair made specifically for you and only you. So next time you are looking to buy a new pair of favorite jeans, maybe think about customizing them and go the raw denim route!