28 1 / 2014
Have you ever seen someone wearing a pair of jeans and thought to yourself, “God damn those jeans are sexy. I bet they were handmade by an old Japanese man using secret ancient weaving techniques.” Probably. Well guess what? That guy was wearing raw denim. It’s time to ditch your 501s and level up your outfits.
what is raw denim?
Usually during the process of manufacturing, jeans are washed to remove any excess indigo dye and eliminate shrinking that may occur after purchase. As you can probably guess, raw denim isn’t washed. This gives the denim a luxe, vibrant look. On top of that, raw denim is typically made from higher quality cotton with more care put into the manufacturing process. It often features awesome details like selvedge lines (below), gunmetal rivets, and heavy leather patches.
why buy raw denim?
The obvious reason is because it looks amazing. A nice pair of raws can really pull together your entire outfit; if you’re going to be wearing jeans every day, why not buy a pair that everyone else will drool over? Beyond that, raw denim is built to last. OG jeans made by Levi Strauss were raw because they had to stand up to the incredible stress being put on them. Even though you probably aren’t working in a mine, a pair of raw denim will last you for at least a few years. And it will start to look better and better. Peep these Iron Hearts after 8 months wear.
Raw denim also stretches around your body, making it the best fitting pair of jeans you’ll own; and as the super high quality cotton starts to get worn in, it will be the most comfortable one too.
how to size
Like every else worth doing, buying raw denim isn’t that easy. Just kidding, it’s super easy. You just have to know how to size it. Since it’s going to stretch a bit after you buy it you need to size down 1 or 2 tag sizes from your normal waist. I usually buy a 31 or 32 in most brands but my A.P.C. Petit Standards are a tag size 30. For the first few wears they may be uncomfortably tight but after a week or so you’ll have that perfect fit that makes all the boys jelly. If you want to get scientific with it you can measure your waist and thigh and buy a pair that measures slightly (.5 to 1 inch) smaller. You could also buy the appropriate size right off the bat if you’re looking for a more relaxed fit.
some brands to look out for
Raw denim brands can be loosely grouped into 3 tiers. In the entry level there are brands like Unbranded, Naked and Famous, and A.P.C. Unbranded is about as cheap as it gets, but honestly, you get what you pay for. Personally I would skip Unbranded, but if you’re hard up for cash you can easily pick up a new pair for around $50 or less. Naked and Famous is a step up in quality and can be had for not much more. They also do a lot of quirky, novelty denim like Rainbow Fades and Scratch and Sniff. But my personal favorite has to be A.P.C. Though the quality of the fabric has decreased in the past few years the cut of the jeans cannot be beat. These jeans just look amazing on everyone. If you can find a slightly used pair for around $100 I’d pick these over the others any day.
In the middle tier are brands like 3sixteen and Rogue Territory. They are both American made and source their cotton from Japanese mills. 3sixteen originally copied the cut of their jeans from A.P.C. but modified the rise to be slightly higher. I’m a fan of slutty low rises so they don’t work for me but tons of people swear by them. I haven’t had much experience with Rogue Territory but their black raws are next on my list.
Then we come to the ‘don’t even front, you can’t rock these jeans’ tier. This tier is almost exclusively dominated by Japanese brands that have limited availability in the US. I’m talking about Momotaro, Iron Heart, The Flat Head, PBJs. I bet you thought PBJs were something your mom packed your little sister for lunch. Nope, they’re Pure Blue Japan and many a paycheck has been gleefully squandered on their slubby goodness. If things like single shuttle looms, low tension weaves, and deerskin leather patches make your salivary glands water… then you probably already knew everything I’ve written so far. If not, just know that these brands are the nicest denim produced by man.
That’s all I’ve got. Watch the video below and then go pick up some raws young padawan!
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