Raw denim journal: Month one

In terms of style, my approach has always been somewhat boyish, meaning that I’ve never felt more at ease donning pants than skirts. Hence it’s no wonder that I’ve been trying to unearth the perfect pair of jeans for years – probably the most elusive item ever, at least if you want perfectly faded, broken-in jeans that fit like a glove in mint condition. Seeing that the search has been rather unsuccessful, I thought: «What the heck, I should just get myself a pair of raw denim jeans and break in the perfect jeans myself.» I wish I’d tried raw denim earlier so that I could save myself the trouble of continuing that endless search.

What is raw denim? It’s simply denim that hasn’t been washed or chemically treated after being dyed during its production. Admittedly, I’ve been lurking on a few raw denim blogs for quite some time, and I’m rather fascinated by the concept and nature of raw denim. I love seeing how they gradually adjust to the body of the person who wears the jeans, not to mention how the denim fades, creases, and ages into uniquely beautiful shades of blue and mold. I find the transformation of raw denim jeans extremely interesting, as each and every transformation is truly unique and records a special story of the wearer.

I like the idea of breaking in, personalizing, and distressing a pair of jeans from scratch on my own. It’s a long process, but that only makes me appreciate the jeans even more. Letting them age and evolve into something beautiful over time instead of rushing the process, or simply fall into the fast fashion trap (which I’ve done several times before when it comes to jeans). In addition to searching for the perfect fit and wash, the labor-friendly and eco-friendly aspects prompted me to convert to raw denim. Besides, the denim is a lot more durable than factory-washed jeans. They can literally last forever.

I could probably go on and on about raw denim, but please check out RAWR DENIM’s essential raw denim breakdown. No need for a recapitulation of it.

So, here is my attempt at documenting my own pair’s ongoing transformation month by month. I also wanted to share my raw denim fascination with you and show how my jeans will eventually become that elusive pair of perfect jeans. However, I have yet to see a woman’s take on raw denim online (from A to Z, that is) – apparently, guys are more into raw denim than girls. The raw denim forums and blogs out there are surely swamped with testosterone, I must say.

via apc.fr

BRAND, MODEL, SIZE & LENGTH I bought a pair of ‘Petit Standard’ jeans from A.P.C, which retail for 135 euros (watch out for rip-offs). In general, you should go two sizes down, as the raw denim will stretch A LOT despite being terribly stiff at first. But sizing down also depends on the fit you’re aiming for. If you want a skinny fit (referring to the Petit Standards), two sizes down would do. I wear size 24 in jeans but opted for size 25 in my A.P.C.s because 1) I want a looser straight-leg fit, and 2) I could barely fit into size 24. That’s just normal, though. But don’t worry, the first few hours will be painful as they’re unbearably hard and as stiff as a piece of cardboard, and you have to wear them unbuttoned till they stretch out to your size, which happens within a day if you’re patient. Since I went for a size larger than usual, my jeans are now probably equivalent to a size 26 or 27. When it comes to length, I had to take up the jeans. The A.P.C. store in Berlin, in which I bought them, offered the service for 8 euros. The A.P.C. jeans are unisex, so they are quite long. Anyway, regardless of the purchase date, you can always drop your old A.P.C.s off at the store to have them hemmed professionally.

FREQUENCY OF WEAR I bought my jeans just a month ago and I wore them every single day for two weeks. I wore them with two buttons unbuttoned in the house, which is recommended until you can get them all buttoned comfortably. After the first two weeks, I’ve been wearing my jeans 4-5 times a week. The more I wear them, the better result.

AFTER ONE MONTH OF WEAR My jeans have become incredibly soft. Well, after the two weeks of constant wear, they got much softer but now my jeans are very comfortable. I liked feeling the stiffness slip away as it was replaced by the softness. In the beginning I couldn’t wear my jeans buttoned while eating, so I tried avoiding eating in public with my jeans on. Even though the fading process is almost annoyingly slow, I’ve noticed slight whiskers in the lap, honeycombs behind the knees, and vertical fades on the front of the thighs. As for fit, the jeans are much looser now (skintight to begin with) but I keep hoping that they will stretch out even more for that immaculate loose straight-leg fit I have in mind. Right now it looks a bit more as if I lost some weight and forgot to wash the jeans I wore when I was fatter. If that made any sense?

No photos this time because the difference wouldn’t show in a picture, so I’ll try again in a month or two.

60 thoughts on “Raw denim journal: Month one

  1. I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I must say it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s so nice to have a thoughtful outlook on fashion instead of the endless cycle of trends. I guess what I’m saying is thanks for putting into words/photos the sort of wardrobe I want for myself but couldn’t seem to articulate or find a mirror of in the world of fashion blogs.

    Also: like Daniela, I’ve been interested in raw denim but didn’t even know that they came in women’s styles/cuts. Can’t wait for this to unfold, or should I say mold?

  2. Wow, I had no idea about the whole raw denim trend. Looks like I’ve found some new food for (fashion) thought.
    May I ask what’s your take on washing denim? I don’t want to come across as germs-obsessed (far from it, in fact), but I’m the six months no wash routine I’m reading of is not something I would be too comfortable with…

      • Uh-oh, just weighing in unbeckoned here as a scientist. ;) Freezing jeans does practically nothing. It’s a widespread notion that supposedly kills the bacteria that would cause the jeans to smell, but the majority of these bacteria are perfectly good at resisting temperatures of the average domestic freezer (around -20°C). Even the industrial freezers used to store tissue samples in labs are at -80°C, and they don’t destroy a lot of bacteria (labs that need to be free of bacteria sterilise their equipment in an autoclave, which kills any microbes by exposing them to very *high* temperatures and pressure). So all freezing your jeans does is temporarily immobilise the scent particles in the fabric, so when you get them out of the freezer they might smell a bit fresher for a while, but they’re not actually any cleaner than before. As you said, airing them is a good idea if you want to avoid washing them!

        • Oh, thanks for sharing. I’ve never done it before so I haven’t been able to see or smell the difference. Well, I’ll be airing my jeans more often now instead of considering putting them in my freezer, haha.

          • Mind-blowing indeed! But I am not too concerned about deadly bacteria…it’s more about the feeling of freshly laundered clothes!
            Let’s say we do it for the environment :-)

    • Jeg var veldig bekymret for det i begynnelsen. Og jeg var bekymret for buksene ville farge av på lysere plagg. Men jeg har egentlig ikke brukt så mange lyse overdeler med disse, så jeg vet ikke ennå. Men jeg opplevde at noen andre jeans farget av på Isabel Marant skoene mine, så jeg tør ikke å bruke de nye sammen med dem ennå. Uansett, jeg har en hvit stol hjemme som jeg sitter på hele tiden (arbeidsstolen min) og den har ikke blitt mer skitten etter at jeg fikk meg nye bukser. Jeg tror de begynner å farge av etter en runde i vaskemaskinen (derfor må man vaske dem to ganger på rad sånn at fargen ikke setter seg av overalt).

  3. “Right now it looks a bit more as if I lost some weight and forgot to wash the jeans I wore when I was fatter.”

    haha, I know exactly what you mean! I’ve had my APC jeans for a week now and am experiencing the same thing. I actually just blogged about my pair, but they’re the higher waisted original standard with a true straight leg. Can’t wait to see how yours turn out in another six months!

    • I like the new standards on you. I tried them on in Berlin as well, but they looked so fugly on me (the petit standard looked funny too) so I didn’t bother giving the new standards a chance. I wonder if they’re the ideal pair – apart from the high waist – as I’d like a real real straight leg cut.

      • Thanks! All of my other jeans are skinny/tapered, so I really wanted the straight leg. I think they don’t look as good as the petit standards when new, but I’ve seen some pairs of broken-in ones and the straighter leg just looks effortlessly cool. Here’s to hoping mine will turn out the same!

  4. Hi Fleurette,

    I am not so sure that guys are more into raw denim than girls. I have been searching for women’s raw denim jeans for a while, but they are very difficult to find. To me it seems females aren’t really given the opportunity to share their denim journeys lol. Maybe it’s because where I live in Canada, there aren’t many places that sell them, I don’t know. The closest I’ve come to them (for women) is some raw denim with 1% spandex!! haha if I wanted jeans with spandex, I could just go anywhere really. There is the online option, but I absolutely have to try them on first :P
    It’s been such a long and frustrating hunt. I really look forward to following your journey and hope that I eventually find a pair! I have a trip planned to NYC soon, so I think I might get lucky there.

    Cheers and thanks for blogging!!

    • I think raw denim is more common amongst guys than girls. But availability might be the reason, or perhaps it’s also because the majority of women seems to be more inclined to fast fashion (and enslaved by fashion) than guys, hence they would rather have that quick fashion fix instead of investing an entire year in the raw denim game. One of the two stores that sells A.P.C. here doesn’t sell raw denim jeans (it’s a women’s store). The buyer told me it’s because no one ever bought them, so they stopped selling them. Only those particularly interested in raw denim would ask for them, which’s rare. On the other hand, the other store that also stocks A.P.C. do have raw denim but only in the biggest sizes for men. Hmm, raw denim with 1% spandex sounds a bit fishy. There are a couple of APC stores in NYC. You should look there! Best of luck to you!

    • I have no idea how people who wear size 24 could size down, but size 24 is not true to size, if you know what I mean. They are more like a size 22-23 and will eventually stretch out to a normal size 24.

  5. these look so perfect, they’ve been on my wishlist ever since you mentioned them and I saw them on lapindelune’s blog :) I can never seem to find jeans that fit quite right on me – I like a straight slim leg but not a mega skinny leg and that style seems to be rather elusive. currently the only pair I own are a cheap pair of high street jeans bought about 5 years ago, which really need replacing, but I’m putting myself off buying any more until I can afford a pair of these. I have to say though, I’m a little scared of the uncomfortable breaking in process!

  6. Fascinating! I myself have been looking for the perfect pair of jeans for a long time, which indeed can become frustrating. I’m really curious to see the progress you make with your jeans, as it might prompt me to opt for raw denim. Thanks for sharing.

  7. An intriguing and eloquent post as always! I’m just starting to make my clothing more premeditated and my first really nice, quality purchase would be jeans, after some months of saving. Until then, I’m doing research. Your article is a great starting point, after an hour I know a lot about raw jeans, even though before I didn’t even know they existed!
    Your blog is the best out there, I love it.

  8. I didn’t know there was such an enthusiastic raw denim culture out there. Rawr Denim is such such an informative site, really love their Fade Friday posts, the jeans there have so much character.

    Looking forward to following your experience with raw denim! Hope you get the perfect pair of jeans in the end. Think I might have to put raw denim jeans on my wishlist!

  9. This is fun! Can’t wait to see your updates. As one of those people who try not wash their jeans no more than twice a year, I say airing them is the best option. If I get small food stains I do dab with a damp cloth though.

  10. I have a pair of APC denim I never broke in that I’ve been debating whether to sell or commit to. Will be interested to see how yours turn out.

    A little grammar sidenote: After the word “despite,” you should follow it with a noun or noun phrase. So you can say “despite my ambivalence,” where ambivalence is a noun. In the sentence in your post, you would say “despite being terribly stiff at first,” which turns your clause into a gerund or noun phrase. (I hope this doesn’t come off the wrong way. I remember a comment sometime ago where you said you appreciate corrections. Suffice to say, I think your English is beautiful and wouldn’t even venture to correct you but that it is.)

    • Woah woah, thanks for correcting me. I didn’t notice and wouldn’t ever write it that way, haha, in my defense it was 3 AM when I was writing this post. I think you should give you APC jeans a try. They do look like a piece of cardboard, though. :P
      EDIT: I realized that I had replaced “even though” with “despite” without changing the rest. Thank you for pointing it out for me!!

  11. Well, I had never even heard of this before, very interesting.

    I spent some time on the Rawr Denim site and I was wondering, are you worried about losing length on your jeans after you wash them for the first time? Their site says to hem them after the first wash, but I’m petite and couldn’t even walk in a pair of un-hemmed jeans.

    This is my first comment here, I just found your blog and am quite enjoying it. A lot of food for thought, and a great antidote to a lot of what is out there in the personal style world.

  12. Ah, mine are coming along so damn slowly! I admit to not wearing them as much as I should, but the stiffness is still similar to when they arrived. Looks like I’m going to have to try a bit harder!
    Saying that, I already adore the fit and feel of these jeans. They feel very….special somehow, perhaps because they ‘grow’ with us, adapting so uniquely to the shape/activity of our own body.
    It’s strange how they seem to become an integral part of us, isn’t it?
    I look forward to hearing more! x

  13. This was such an interesting post. And the rawR denim website is so comprehensive. It made me realise I knew absolutely nothing about raw Denim. I’ve to say I always found the fascination for the apc jeans very odd as they are so stiff and seem so uncomfortable to wear. But, oh my ignorance… Now I got it :)
    Great post, as always.

  14. Glad to hear you love raw denim. I own a pair from Samurai Jeans which were my brother’s but he couldn’t stand them (they’re extremely heavy) so he passed them to me. I don’t wash them at all and it’s ok they don’t stink, in fact even then I split something on them it won’t leave stains. I once split hydrogen peroxide on them (during my chemistry class)- this chemical is used for bleaching hair in hair dyers and it wouldn’t leave a stain on my jeans!

  15. I’ve been trying to find a brand that carries raw denim for women so thanks for the mention of APC and I’ll look into it. Can’t wait to hear more about how you’re breaking into your pair of raw denim.

  16. Great post! I got the exact same jeans a couple weeks ago, and I couldn’t agree more. It feels like I’ve finally found the real deal… why I didn’t get on the raw denim bandwagon earlier I’ll never know. Mine are still a bit stiff, but they nevertheless fit me like a glove. I think what I love the most is that they stretch out to a comfortable looseness, but they don’t get all baggy in the bum. They retain a certain structure. I never knew a pair of such seemingly plain looking jeans could get me so excited :)

  17. I’m intrigued! Thank you for this detailed article. I love really worn-in jeans; the only pair I have that are like this are an old pair of Levi’s that I bought when I was 16, wore solidly and then didn’t fit into again for 5 years. Now they’re perfect. I’m tempted by raw denim but because I wear work clothes most of the week, it’d take me forever to wear them in. Maybe one for the school holidays… Please keep us updated!

  18. Oj oj, det er mange kommentarer her allerede, men: hvor kjøper du jeansene dine? 135 euro (1080 kr) var ikke helt grusomt dyrt, i forhold til mange andre merker..
    Hvordan sitter disse jeansene i forhold til Cheap Monday eller andre merker? (jeg bruker lik str som deg, tenker jeg)
    Trenger virkelig et par ordentlige, nye jeans..

    • Jeg kjøpte mine i Berlin hos A.P.C. Eneste stedet du får tak i disse i Norge er Pepper i Bergen. Tror de har damestørrelser. Freudian Kicks i oslo har bare store størrelser for herre. Vel, jeg kan ikke sammenlikne disse med andre merker egentlig, fordi de er ekstremt stygge på i begynnelsen. De har ikke noe form og er helt stive. Du må gå dem inn en stund før de begynner å se fine ut og tilpasser kroppen din.

  19. Oooh, I remember way back in the mid-90′s, when the only jeans the made for women were those hideous high-waisted, relaxed seat things, I bought a pair of men’s Levis 517s that had to have been raw denim, although I didn’t really consider that at the time. The were stiff as a board when I got them, but the sat on my hips and that’s what I wanted. It took FOREVER to break them in but it was worth it.

    My tip: Sleep in the jeans. I did. It softens them up in a way that nothing else will. You might be past the point of needing to with these jeans, but if you need to break in another pair I highly recommend it. I told my mom this (she’s breaking in a hardly-worn pair of 1960′s Levis that I found for her at a thrift store) and she laughed and said that she’d always thought I was just being lazy when I slept in my jeans. But it worked for her too.

    Interesting point about availability, also. I think it all depends on where you live. I, for example, live in the US, in Kansas. So there are plenty of slim cut, raw denim jeans available, for men and women, because that’s what people buy for farm work. Not to mention the second-hand, broken-in-on-horseback jeans that you can find in the thrift stores. I’m starting to be inspired to go out and buy a pair of raw Wranglers…

  20. This is fascinating! I had never heard of raw denim before, or at least, never paid any attention to it. But now I’ve lost over an hour of my afternoon on all the links here (thanks, haha) and am just growing more and more intrigued. Thanks so much for introducing me to this whole new world. I’m very tempted to try out a pair of APC, though here in Madrid I don’t know where I would go to try them on. But I also love the fact that you’re serving yourself up as a guinea pig so we can see how the whole process develops! Thanks again!

    http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

  21. Raw denim sounds so interesting but the breaking-in process sounds painful! And (this is going to sound really stupid) but what about when you have a fat day? Or just put on a couple of pounds? But I bet they’ll be worth it in the end. They look lovely on lapindelune. I think she has similar ones…

  22. I’ve never considered raw denim, but now I will definitely give it a try. My brother is already wearing his second Levis raw denim pants! I’ve just returned from Paris, so I’m broke, but next month I’ll stop by a Levis store for sure.

  23. oooh fun! i started a raw denim diary on my blog with my APCs two years ago but ended up selling them before i really wore them at all. they were the new cures though and i think the standards would have been a better fit/style. i love the individualized distressing – totally worth it!

  24. så inspirerende! Det er virkelig ikke lett å finne fine jeans, og da er det kanskje som du sier, bedre å gå de inn selv. Jeg har selv aldri tenkt på det, men man blir lysten når man ser for seg resultatet :)

  25. My hubby is really into raw denim. Wow, size 24! I can barely fit into a 25! BTW, you may be able to shrink it down a size if you dump into a dryer. That’s what happened to mine. Speaking of jeans that stretched, I was silly enough to buy a looser fit and drats, after a week of wearing the jeans, they fall right off my hips if I don’t have a belt round it.

  26. I wear a size 26(some 27) in jeans. The waist measurement on all my jeans are 29 inches. Are APC jeans the same way or are the waist measurements the same as the tag. So many people say to down size, but I couldn’t possibly down size if the waist measurement is true to the tag size

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