What is Raw Denim?

Raw food is uncooked. Raw denim is unwashed. This is the best analogy we’ve heard so far.

Raw jeans are not unique, all denim starts raw. Denim arrives at every jean maker’s factory in the raw form. The raw fabric is cut and sewn into a jean. Once a jean is washed, it is no longer considered raw. 

raw denim jeans

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What makes raw denim jeans different than non-raw jeans

Raw jeans are stiff compared to washed jeans. Denim mills add a starch-like substance to denim to give it structure. This structure helps during production of the denim and when sewing the jeans. When jeans are washed, this starch-like substance washes out and the denim softens.

What makes a raw jean desirable?

It’s safe to say that most men have never worn raw jeans. Some men will know raw denim as “shrink-to-fit.” And rarely will you see raw jeans sold in stores.

Men who choose raw over washed denim, do so because they want to break-in the jeans themselves. Raw jeans provide a ‘blank canvas’ or ‘clean slate’– an unadulterated denim that picks up the natural wear patterns, fades and creases that come from abrasion and daily wear.

If a man wears his raw jeans regularly and is disciplined with his wash regimen, he will create a unique, beautiful looking jean within one to two years.

How do you wash raw jeans?

If you love clean clothes all the time, don’t buy raw jeans. Raw denim jeans are best when they’re not washed frequently. You want to wait as long as possible before washing your raw jeans. This ensures your fades are more dramatic. A good target is not washing until six months of wear, then wash. After the first wash, very infrequent washing is recommended.   

When it’s time to wash, our preferred method is: delicate cycle with cold water and mild detergent, then hang to dry. Washing your raw jeans will not damage them, but with each wash you reduce your ability to create dramatic fades and patina the denim.

Should you buy raw jeans

Raw jeans are not for everyone. They look different, they have a slight shine at first. Because they’re stiff, the don’t drape like washed denim. And they’re certainly not as comfortable as a washed jean, until they’re broken in.   

todd shelton raw selvedge jeans

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If a customer is on the fence between Pro Original Darks and Pro Original Raw, we will always recommend Pro Original Darks. A customer will get similar fades over time, but Darks will be more comfortable from the start.

However, when customers have a lingering curiosity about raw jeans and want the life experience of breaking in a raw jean, we recommend Pro Original Raw. There is no greater opportunity to create a bond with a garment than with raw jeans; no other garment allows you to put your personal stamp on it so dramatically.


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