How to Break In Raw Denim

It’s an age old question: what is the best way to break in those new raw denim jeans? You want to keep them looking raw, but also be able to rock them in comfort. When raw denim remains unbroken, it leads to a pair of jeans that are stiff and kinda painful. When raw denim is broken in too much, it leads to a pair of jeans that are faded and kinda ordinary (if you wash them too much). Like most things in life, you gotta find the balance.

So even though more work remains after you have bitten the bullet and purchased your raw denim jeans, it is still a worthwhile investment. Raw denim fits better and lasts longer than cheaper, processed denim. If treated properly, you can literally personalize your jeans, making them distinctly yours, complete with your own back pocket phone and wallet wear. So how do you do it? Here are the top five ways to break in and gently fade your raw denim.

1. Exercise in ‘Em

To help your jeans go from stiff to soft, they need to worn as much as possible, and they need to move. Go for a bike ride in them. Go for a skate, do some yoga, play some tennis, go on a hike, whatever floats your exercise boat. We all know that a new pair of jeans can feel tight and stiff, but the more leg movement you can muster, the stretchier they will get, and the more comfortable they will become. And don’t worry about the sweat; it’s actually good for raw denim, and will help them become more flexible.

2. Soak in ‘Em

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this one. Soaking your raw denim jeans is essential, and should be one of the first things you do. Fresh raw denim has dyes and starches that make them dark, stiff, and rigid. Soaking them helps lighten and soften them up, so they look and feel better. Basically, you have two options here, depending on your mood and the weather outside. The first (and some say best) method is to wear your jeans into a bath or a shower. This will allow the denim to shrink ever-so-slightly into the contours of your body. Once completely soaked, you can them hang them to dry, or if it is sunny outside, you can keep them on and go lie in the sun. The second (and less adventurous) method is to take the jeans off and give them their own bath or shower, and then hang to dry, preferably in the sun.

3. Sleep in ‘Em

They may not make the most comfortable pyjamas, but try sleeping in your new jeans. With all the tossing and turning we do during the night, it is the perfect way to break them in without really doing anything…except sleeping and dreaming. Perfect for all you multi-taskers. And while you are sleeping, your raw denim is loosening up, softening up, and getting used to your body. Just make sure you are really tired, or you have had a few drinks, so that actually falling asleep in your jeans is not an issue.

4. Abuse ‘Em

Although “tougher than leather” is the cliche, denim is pretty damn tough. It’s not to be coddled. Wear your raw denim in the mosh pit; whack your jeans with a sledgehammer; tie them to a flagpole during a hurricane. Your raw denim jeans can not only take the abuse, but will thank you for it by becoming worked in and faded to perfection.

5. Wash ‘Em

But be careful. The theory that raw denim should never be washed is a myth. Think about it: a good pair of raw denim jeans should last you several years (heck, barring a free-fall into obesity, they should last a lifetime). Washing your raw denim once every few months is totally fine. But do it the right way: wash inside out, by themselves, in cold water. And always hang dry.

Raw denim jeans are not to be feared; they are to be embraced. If you break them in the right way and treat them properly, they will become like a friend. They will not only be with you for a lifetime, but they will be personalized to fit you like a glove.

And if you find yourself in Vancouver or Calgary and in search of some quality raw denim jeans, we recommend you check out Dutil on (303 W Cordova, Vancouver and 216b 9 Ave SE, Calgary), Boy’sCo. on Robson (1044 Robson St) and Nifty-Do in Gastown (227 Carrall St). You will be sure to find a new friend for your legs.

When you’ve found that right pair of denim, you can order them through the ParcelPal app and get them delivered in less than an hour. You’ll be breaking in these bad boy in no time.