|Maiden Noir Denim|
What is Dry Denim?
Unwashed (dry) jeans are made from denim that is unsanforized. Basically it hasn’t been pre-shrunk of stretched. The dyes have also not been set. Unwashed denim will bleed out over time and give the jeans a nice distressed look. Some people don’t like the distressed look so they wash this denim as soon as they get it to set the dye.
What is Selvedge?
The selvedge edge is the end of a bolt of fabric that is woven in such a manner that it won’t unravel. All fabric is woven with a selvedge edge. It used to be that a lot of jeans came with selvedge edges matched together on the outside seam of your pant leg. These were the days before sanforization. If the selvedge edges were matched, the pant legs wouldn’t twist when the jeans were first washed. Once sanforization became common, jeans makers could cut jeans with the economics of the fabric in mind as opposed to how the jeans were going wear over time. This basically translates into larger looms and mass production. You can check to see if jeans are selvedge by looking at the outside seem the leg. If it looks anything like this, it’s selvedge:
Why is Japanese Denim so Popular?
This gets at why Japanese denim tends to be superior. The U.S. wanted to help the Japanese develop their economy after World War II, so we sent them a bunch of our old manufacturing equipment. This included old denim looms. We moved on to mass production techniques before finally just off-shoring everything we consume. In the meantime the Japanese mastered the craft of producing heavy denim on short looms so that it lasts forever and dying it with natural indigo so that it fades oh so well. A lot of Japanese denim manufacturers have purchased licenses to replicate old-school American styles. So it’s not uncommon to see jeans like Blue Bell Wranglers made in Japan.
How to Get Started.
I recommend buying yourself/ your boyfriend/ your husband a pair. The gold standard of dry denim jeans is the A.P.C. New Standard. You can find them for about $165 and they stretch out two sizes so buy them small. I think the inseam is 34 inches. There are a bunch of other brands out there. A few include: Nudie, Naked and Famous, Maiden Noir and Uniqlo. You might avoid J Crew as they are a little expensive and will still manage to make you look like kind of an idiot. You can find lots of slightly used stuff on ebay which I probably wouldn’t buy given that you are looking for something that is unwashed.
It’s important to find out how much the jeans will stretch and size appropriately. If they are way too big or too long you can try soaking them in cold water for a few hours and they’ll shrink down a bit. After that, wear them a lot and don’t wash them. Avoid rain. Put them in the freezer for a while if they get smelly. Hand-wash them eventually.
Whether or not you want to buy a pair of raw selvedge jeans, here are my key take-aways on men’s denim in general:
-Don’t buy men’s versions of women’s designer jeans. This is taking a masculine product (jeans), making it feminine (Citizens of Humanity jeans), and then making a slightly more masculine product out of that. Do you see what I’m saying? Don’t get me wrong, you’ll catch me in tight jeans and purple Vans. But still, a guy wearing Sevens looks both lazy and corny.
-Don’t buy pre-distressed jeans. They look fixed gear and they won’t last nearly as long. If you want fades, the best thing to do is buy dry denim and wear them a lot. I could write an entire blog post about how exactly pre-distressed jeans don’t look real but I’m not sure anyone would care. Either way it looks stupid.
-Beware of unsanforized denim that is not selvedge like Levi’s Shrink-to-Fit. You may be in for a surprise after your first wash.
-Don’t hem your jeans. You just can’t get the same hem at the tailor that the jean manufacturers can get. Nice denim usually comes in a uniform inseam that is typically 34 or 36 inches. People started flipping their hems up to avoid dragging the hem on the ground. This also shows off the selvedge edge if you’ve got it. I see guys everyday now flipping up their non-selvedge jeans that don’t have selvedge seams. I guess they think it looks cool. If I were buying those kinds of jeans, I would have just picked out a pair that fit me.
-When you wash dry denim they recommend dry cleaning for the first wash, but I’ve never done that. I turn my jeans inside out and soak them in cold water with some Woolite Dark for about two hours. Then I ring them out and hang them to dry.
-If you machine wash any pair of jeans, turn them inside out.
-Unless you are actually wearing boots, don’t buy a boot cut.