My best friend Kate is huge Dry Denim enthusiast. “Why would I want to buy jeans that are made to look like I already wore them? I just don’t get it,” she says, “What I do, is buy raw denim and, at first, they may be awful, but then I sit in my bathtub wearing them, and soak in them…and then I wear them til they’re practically dry on meÔÇªOh my gosh! It is toruture! But totally worth itÔÇª” she squealsÔÇª “Then, I wear them constantly, do crazy things like lunges in them, jump around in them, maybe even work out in them, dance around the house in them, and of course, I never wash themÔÇªThen they behave. Then it’s not as if it looks like I broke them inÔÇªbecause, I actually did! The best part is when they get all of the creases in themÔÇªaround the backs of my knees and on my legsÔÇªand they are my creases. Man, I wish they were more of a girl thing though…it’s so hard to find great women’s dry jeans. Love my Levi’s though!”
I can remember one week last year when Kate came to visit me. She had the most amazing pair of Levi’s on. When I say amazing, I mean really amazing. They were the kind of jeans that look like you had to lay down to get them on, but really, she didn’t have to do that at all. She just glided right into them. They were straight leg and just slightly high waistedÔÇªbut nothing too trendy. And as she had mentioned in her previous dissertation on broken in dry denim, they were faded everywhere, just right to her body. What was the secret? They were dry denim of course.
So What is Dry Denim?
So, maybe many of you already know about Dry Denim, or, as it is sometimes called, “Raw” Denim. Dry Denim is, in fact, developing a cult following these days with huge fan forum’s and websites out there. Like my best friend, there are many people who agree, that a natural fit and fade to one’s own body, is preferable to a fade that is made to order. There are companies out there that are specifically devoted to Dry Denim and guys and girls alike who refuse to buy anything else. Finding Dry denim for women, however, I do have to agree is typically more challenging, and much of the women’s dry denim is…well…watered down a bit…but…let’s get down to basics first…
Characterized by its unaffected state, Dry Denim relies on the denim and the wearer themselves to get the material and color to that cozy and, if you will, sometimes destroyed stage that we love so much. Denim is an American Favorite for many reasons. The main basis, I would venture to say, is it’s comfort factor. No matter what style we make a jean (skinny, wide, boot, boyfriend, straight, etc), they still remain pretty comfortable. There is pretty much nothing we can do to make denim uncomfortable (ok, there are times when we wear it too tight and yes, that crosses the line!). But, as a whole, denim’s ability to soften up and adhere to your particular body, creating, at times, an almost cashmere feel, is what has made the industry impenetrable and the look iconic (understatement). The difference between Dry Denim and the majority of our designer denim favorites today is that the makers of dry denim are leaving it completely up to the denim and you to do the softening and wearingÔÇª.they are taking themselves out of the equation. Way to trust the jeans!
So, although it certainly is not the quickest way to an A+ fit, it seems to be the most authentic these days.
Pictures of Dry Denim
Mens Styles of Dry Denim
Womens Styles of Dry Denim
Dry Denim- Major Brands
- Earnest Sewn
- Sling & Stones
- Atelier LaDurance
- Pure Blue
- Flat Head
- Cheap Mondays
- Julian Red
- Kicking Mule Workshop
- Gilded Age
- Paul Smith
- Naked & Famous
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE TECHNICAL DEFINITION OF DRY DENIM?
Dry or Raw denim is denim fabric that is not washed during the production phase, after the color treatment process. Unlike most denim, the makers of Dry or Raw Denim allow this process to happen in a natural aging cycle of the denim fabric itself, instead of speeding it up to creating a “desirable” purchase look.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO BUY DRY DENIM?
Most people who are dry denim enthusiasts feel that these jeans are truly a pair of jeans that are going to be fit and worn to your specific body. Because Dry Denim is not going to have wear to it when you first receive them, the denim will then only be affected by your daily life, by your activities, by your unique set of experiences, making each mark, line and even tear, authentic to not only the brand, but to you.
WHY DO MOST DENIM MAKERS WASH DENIM TO BEGIN WITH THEN?
Washing denim after the dye process creates a few typical appearances such as “softening” “distressing” “creasing” “whiskering” “fading” etc.. Concurrently, washing denim after the dye process can also prevent some certain negative affects such shrinkage, although not usually to an ideal, as we all can attest I’m certain! While dry denim is definitely going to be more exclusive to you than a pair of pre-distressed jeans, they don’t necessarily get that way over night. So, be prepared to wear them, and wear them hard! Most Dry Denim enthusiasts will not wash their jeans for 6 months or even longerÔÇª!
I’VE HEARD OF SELVAGE DENIMÔÇª WHAT IS THAT? AND WHY IT IS UNCOMMON?
Selvage is from the term “self-edge” and has more to do with the inside roll or “edge” on a pair of jeans than the actual denim itself. However, you’re certainly most likely to find selvage in a pair of dry denim jeansÔÇªalthough they are mutually exclusive. A selvage edge, or roll, is usually done running along the edge of the denim’s outseam. Yet, it is only selvage when the seaming is done in a certain and very meticulous way.
Have you ever noticed that when some jeans are cuffed up, the seaming looks extremely finishes and cleanÔÇölike the edge was made look visible? As if the seam could never come undone? Well, if you’ve seen that, then you were probably looking at selvage denim. This is an extremely high quality finish from an old school “shuttle loom”. Unfortunately though, not all of today’s denim is made on a shuttle loomÔÇöin fact, most is not. Using a shuttle loom to create denim in today’s world is a very costly (not to mention lengthy) process. And, although the finished result is a tighter and superior quality weave, most companies began to use a different method called the “projectile loom” back in the ÔÇÿ50’s to save material and labor cost. Consequently, not too many selvage options at your local mallsÔÇª.
Here’s some pictures of Selvage…
OK, ENOUGH OF THE SELVAGE…I GET IT! ONTO THE OTHER “S”…WHAT IS SANFORIZING ?????
That one’s pretty easy! Think of sanforizing as a dry denim maker’s way to preshrink your denim material without ever effecting the way it will be colored or faded. Pretty great. Not every pair of dry jeans is sanforized thoughÔÇªthat’s where soaking comes into playÔÇª
YESÔÇªYOU DID MENTION SOAKING IN THE BEGINNING. AM I REALLY SUPPOSED TO SIT IN THE BATH IN MY JEANS?
Yes. And no. This is a pretty controversial method. Not everyone recommends it. And, in fact, some people are vehemently against it! Soaking denim while you are wearing the denim (ie in the tub) is usually recommended by jeans that have not been sanforized (rememberÔÇöthat means they haven’t shrunk yet). By doing this, the denim is going to shrink right to your body and yet, it will not shrink past your body. That’s why people recommend actually wearing them while you’re soaking. Use warm water, as this will allow the fabric fibers to really expandÔÇªand thenÔÇªas they dry, contract, creating that shrink and fit that you’re looking for. The soaking process also helps to break jeans in a little more quickly and fade the denim fast. Please, just don’t forget, if your denim is sanforized, your purchase is true-to-size, and this process is not for you! You’ll definitely want to preserve that cut and might make the jeans too small!
If you’re not like my friend Kate and you’re not into running around in wet denim, your best bet is to fill your pants up with heavy wide items that you don’t mind ruining, like some big ol’ textbooks. Some people recommend inside out-ting your denim, others say noÔÇªas you may be gathering at this point, the soaking and washing practices have garnered more than a few opinionsÔÇªAhhhÔÇªsighÔÇªfashionÔÇª
I HAVE MY JEANS PERFECT NOW! BUT THEY STINK! HOW DO I WASH THEM?
The standard dry denim wash recommendation is six months. Washing dry denim too soon won’t ruin your denim, however, it will ruin your faded pattern. It will take your jeans from whiskered and destroyed to a bit more evenly colored. This long-time-no-wash-standard is one of the reasons that dry denim is not for everyone.
Lorna’s note – What does count though is how much you wear these jeans, washing is not too important unless you have a brand like Nudie where the colour will fade extremely fast, you just have to make sure that you wear them as much as possible to ensure you are getting those creases and fades you desire. It is best to wait as long as possible before your first wash though as the starchiness to the denim will go away once it’s washed and then it does make it harder for the creases to set in. I own 2 raw jeans myself, Sling & Stones and Good Society and they are very hard to break in but it’s definitely worth it. I also put together a post where you can see other forum members raw denim after it’s been worn and washed. Click here to view it.
Regardless of when you wash however, the method is pretty much the same: Wash Alone, Wash Cold, Wash Inside Out, Wash Using Gentle Non-Bleach detergents, and Last, but not least, whether washing or soaking, make sure you line dry those puppies!
SO…ARE YOU READY TO DIVE INTO DRY…
And last but certainly not least…
Also, be sure to check out Dry Denim Community for lots of great tips for hemming and wearingÔÇªas well as our user friendly forum to ask of all the questions you need to break in your denim right and bring them to the look you have been hoping for!