A wardrobe without a pair of jeans is a rare one to say the least. Over the last few decades, jeans have morphed from their previous role as a practical, versatile trouser to a key fashion staple. From the cut to the stitching, there are many things that set one pair of jeans apart from the next, but understanding the wash process is key when selecting your next pair of jeans.
The way that jeans are treated and washed in the manufacturing process says a lot about the way they will look and wear. And, perhaps surprisingly, getting the wash right is thought of as one of the most difficult parts of making a pair of jeans.
From dark indigo jeans to faded vintage look styles, the way that the jeans are washed can give them a whole different look, so two pairs of jeans that may look identical before being treated can be drastically different once they have been through the washing process.
Raw denim jeans are the most traditional and those in the most untreated state. This type of jean will start out typically quite rich in colour and feeling stiff, but over time, raw denim softens up and conforms to your movements and body. However, many people don’t want to wait for their jeans to have a lived-in look. They prefer a distressed aesthetic that suggests a long life for their new jeans without the growing pains. Luckily there are plenty of developments in jean manufacturing and design that allow jeans to be worked and processed at earlier stages.
When creating vintage denim, the manufacturers spend a lot of time ensuring that a new pair of jeans look old. The idea is to create jeans that look as though they have been worn and loved for many years. This generally involves the repeated washing of raw denim. To cut the process down from the large amount of time it would take the denim to fade naturally, these jeans are washed in a chemical bath.
There are other ways to create a vintage or well loved look however, these include; stone washed denim, when the jeans are washed with the aid of a pumice stone; sandblasted jeans, an old technique that sees pairs of jeans blasted with sand from a canon or gun. This technique is ideal for creating worn patches. Additionally, jeans are sometimes dyed or tinted with a darker dye to create a dirty denim look.
Coated denim is a new progression that provides a different finish again. Their waxed coatings can be either shiny or matte and can also be scraped to create new textures throughout the jeans. Coated jeans can also start out quite stiff, but this is part of the look. Experts recommend always washing your jeans inside out in cold water and waiting as long as possible between washes.
Buying a new pair of jeans may not be easy with so many options and separate treatments, but understanding the wash process of denim should help you choose your next pair of jeans with confidence.