Raw Denim Jeans


One of the biggest trends in jeans at the moment is raw denim, referring to jeans that have not ever been treated or washed with chemicals. While at first they are stiff and almost feel like a corset for your legs, they will over time both expand and conform to your body, becoming unique to your shape.

One of the most important things when buying a pair is that they fit like a glove (a very tight one) from the onset. When you try them on, they should be so tight that it is at first difficult to pull them up. I recently bought a pair of A.P.C raw denim jeans and thought I was going to have a stress-induced stroke just trying to close the top button. The reason for this is that in just a few months, the jeans will expand and gain at very least, an inch in the waist.

When you first wear them, they feel incredibly stiff and movement itself is quite limited. This sensation takes a few months to go away completely as the jeans are broken in, but they become manageable even after the first full day of wearing them. You can speed this process by wearing them around the house and just moving in them. An important caveat, however, is that they may bleed onto light colored shoes or surfaces so you must be wary for the first few days of this.

When you have your jeans, it’s important to not wash them for least six months. During this period, they are still conforming to your body and washing them will severely interrupt this process. If they become unbearably dirty, you can have them dry cleaned or even put them in the freezer to get rid of any odor. On the A.P.C. ‘instruction manual’ that came with the pair I bought, one of the more extreme washing remedies advised, “Let your jeans get dirty for as long as possible, go swimming in the ocean wearing your jeans, rub your jeans with dry sand, and repeat several times. Rinse in fresh (not salt) water and let dry in the sun).” Besides possibly accelerating the deterioration process, I see no real world benefit in engaging in such time consuming and obsessive behavior.

If you are not the kind of person who likes neither the idea of having an instruction manual for your jeans nor having to work at getting them broken in, do not buy raw denim jeans. For those who are willing to work at it, the end result is both gratifying and rewarding. After six months of wear, your jeans will show lines and creases at natural places on your body and will tell a story about you. They will fit you better than any other pair of jeans you have ever owned previously and like life’s battle scares, you’ll be damn proud of the story behind every rip and hole in them.

I recommend A.P.C’s “New Cure” jeans ($140), which have a tapered leg and no unnecessary or pretentious markings or logos.



  1. You’re quite a bit late on this “recent trend”. I think Fok-Yan Leung might have been able to offer more information.

  2. anon: why quoting “recent trend” when the writer didn’t acctually write “recent trend”? I think this is a good article, and late or not – raw denim always looks the best. It is a classic, you can never be too late to wear it!

  3. i just thought the article ignored a lot of the history behind the trend such as japanese repro denim and the smaller boutique denim (skull, 5ep, KMW, somet, etc) or larger denim companies with generally better denim quality (nudie). since i look to blogs for information larger publications usually ignore to keep a broader readership, i was a little worried this article would simply re.inforce the arguable incorrect ranking GQ recently published that the APC NS was the best jean.

    i apologize for misquoting the article, i realize that was a mistake. However, in regards to raw always looking the best, its also important to remember that one wash denim is does not lose any of the fading characteristics of their raw counterparts. one wash also has the benefit of not shrinking if the denim is not sansforized. also, the process of soaking mayb should have been addressed? sorry, i didnt mean to knock on the article. i understand why the article is being written, but since its being written now, with a lot of knowledge that has been collected on the properties of raw denim, i thought that article has a very limited and biased approach to raw denim. I love raw denim and just want the readership to have a more complete understanding of how it wears.

    andrew (aka anon)


  1. […] found this article on MensFlair.com very interesting about raw denim and thought we’d pass it on.  Have you tried Raw denim […]