Everything you need to know about raw denim


Deep Ellum Denim

You may have heard terms like, raw or selvedge but weren't sure what they mean or why they are seemingly important.  Our focus is on raw selvedge denim from credible brands. This ensures we're bringing you the highest-quality, handcrafted denim from around the world.  

No matter what your style preference is, every man should own at least a pair raw selvedge denim.  Trust us, you won't know why until you've experienced owning a pair for yourself.  

RAW

Raw denim is dry or unwashed denim.  The denim has not undergone any of the usual washing and distressing processes from mass produced brands.  It comes straight off the loom and is cut and sewn into jeans and then sold to you.

Raw denim allows the wearer to personalize the pants for his/her unique shape, with creases and fade marks forming to his/her body type.

Up until the early 1970s, all jeans were made of raw denim and it was up to the consumer to break them in.  This is what Deep Ellum Denim is all about. 

There are a few specific instructions when washing raw denim.  When you do wash your jeans, use cold water and a small amount of detergent.  Since raw denim can bleed into other fabrics, don't wash your jeans with any other articles of clothing. Finally, hang the jeans up and allow to air dry. 

SELVEDGE

Before jeans were mass produced, they were made on shuttle looms designed specifically for making denim.  This is the phase of the process where cotton is turned into the denim fabric you are familiar with today. 

Selvedge goes by many spellings (selvage, self-edge, salvage) but it all equates to the same thing–the self-binding edge of a fabric woven on a shuttle loom. You can spot selvedge denim by the tell-tale colored lines that often run along the out-seam of a pair of jeans.

It’s also important to note that selvedge denim is not the same as raw denim.  Selvedge refers to how the fabric has been woven, whereas raw refers to the wash (or lack thereof) on the fabric itself.

The overwhelming majority of denim made today is open end and non-selvedge.  There are only a handful of mills left in the world that create this type denim - this is who we work with.

ROPE DYING

Rope Dying is core reason why raw denim is praised for its fading properties.  Denim mills in Japan have perfected this process.

The process starts with cotton yarns bundled into a rope and then dipped in a sequence of indigo dye baths.  Between dips the yarns are exposed to the air and the absorbed indigo slowly oxidizes turning the yarns blue.  This process is then repeated multiple times in order to obtain the desired shade of blue. 

What’s important is that the yarns are never left in the indigo dye long enough for the dye to penetrate to the core of the yarn.  As a result the outer circumference of the yarn is dyed with multiple layers of indigo dye, while the core remains white. 

With wash and wear, denim made from rope dyed yarns will gradually shed layers of indigo and slowly revealing the white core yarn underneath. The result is a jean with excellent depth of color and personality that is unique to the wearer. 

KNOW YOUR WEIGHTS

7-9 ounce lightweight: Perfect for summer weather. 

10-13 ounce standard weight: The most common weight used to make jeans.

14-16 ounce mid-weight: Heavier than your standard denim and quite rigid to start. These jeans usually require a few weeks to break in and provide more durability so you can kick ass longer and harder. 

17-21 ounce heavy weight: Made for hardwearing, these jeans can handle just about anything you throw at them. These jeans will produce distinct high-contract wear patterns. 

22 ounce+ super heavy weight: It's like wearing cardboard box shaped pants. You must be willing to go through pain and suffering to wear these jeans.   

WEARING AND CARING FOR RAW DENIM

Raw denim jeans have the unique ability to conform to you, the wearer.  As you wear your jeans they will crease and mold to your body, fade at points of strain, wear and tear according to how you live your life, making your jeans that much more personal and unique.  Some denim enthusiasts even wear their jeans for months, and sometimes years on end, without wash to engrave their lifestyle into the jeans.

While there are no rules to wearing raw denim, here are few handy suggestions on how to get the most life out of your jeans.

Washing: Knowing the right time to wash your jeans isn’t dependent on how long you’ve been wearing your jeans, but how much you’ve been wearing your jeans.  Washing your jeans after a short period of wear will produce a more uniform color. While the more you wear your jeans, allowing them to crease and fade to your body, the more personalized the jeans will become after wash, with high contrast fading at points of strain. 

When you’ve decided that your jeans are ready for a wash. Turn the jeans inside out, and fasten the front buttons or zippers (this is to avoid abrasion to the denim while washing) soak the jeans in a tub using cold water to minimize indigo loss (if the jeans are very dirty you can use a small amount of detergent).  Gently scrub the jeans and let them soak for about an hour.  Remove the jeans from the tub, and rinse them with water to remove any leftover dirt, dye, or detergent.  Ring out any excess water and hang them to dry.  The jeans may feel a bit tight after wash, but will soon stretch back out to normal with wear.  

For an extreme approach, try showering in your jeans, or even wearing your jeans to the beach and washing them in the ocean. 

Maintenance: Jeans are not indestructible. No other garment is worn as frequently or as hard as a pair of raw denim jeans.  The longer you wear your jeans between washing, sweat oil, and dirt build. This weakens the cotton fibers and holes can form.  From time to time it’s important to do some regular maintenance. Not only will it prolong the life of your jeans, it also adds a great deal of character.  Patch up any small holes that form using a small piece of denim. Patch the jeans from the inside for a cleaner look. Patch the jeans from the outside for a more vintage look. Or, try using a contrasting patterned fabric to add personality.

OUR COLLECTION

We searched the globe to discover our favorite denim brands and have brought them to Dallas.  Our collection is second to none.  And you won't find a larger selection of jeans anywhere else in DFW, or Texas for that matter. 

Shop our collection online, or swing by the shop and we'll help you buy the best pair of jeans you'll ever own.