A Guide To Dry Denim


What is dry denim? What is raw denim? And why are denim-heads around the nation so obsessed?

To make it simple – dry denim is a pair of dark indigo jeans with no special wash. So you won’t find them with any tears or signs of wear. It’s up to you to customize them and make them completely unique. It takes time, effort, and a lot of will power.

TheManual spoke to some of the leaders of this movement to get their take on this craze and they’ve included some helpful tips on how you can maintain the “crispiness” of your jeans for as long as possible.

One brand that really embraces this “lifestyle” is Rising Sun & Co. a high-end men’s denim brand based out of the Eagle Rock neighborhood in Los Angeles. Mike Hodis, founder of the company and a denim historian, encourages customers to develop their own fading patterns. “There are no objective laws of building wear for raw denim though, you can see great fading and fit from 4 washes a year to 4 years without a wash…it all depends on the wearer,” Hodis says.

“When you do need to wash your raw denim, always wash in cold water (unless you are intentionally looking to shrink them), by hand if possible, with non-abrasive soap. If you want to keep the indigo from seeping, turn them inside out when washing.” Hodis says adding a splash of Woolite dark will help preserve deep indigo hues. Also, always hang dry!

Rising Sun & Co.’s denim is unique because each item is handmade in the US, and they use duck canvas inside the waistband to prevent too much stretching. “Overall it’s a really timeless product that will age with the wearer,” Hodis adds.

Here are some other brands that take the raw movement seriously:

A.P.C. is a French ready-to-wear brand known for its denim. The New Standard cut is neither low-rise nor high-rise and slightly fitted at bottom to give the appearance of a straight leg. Here are A.P.C.’s tips and “recipes” to dealing with dry-denim:

Extremist recipe: Let your jeans get dirty for as long as possible. First wash: dry clean. Following washes: soak your jeans for about an hour in water with a little ‘Woolite Black’ added, rinse, roll in a terrycloth towel and hang-up to dry. Semi-extremist recipe: Soak your jeans for about an hour in water with ‘Woolite Black’ added, don’t scrub, rinse, wring, and hang-up to let the water drain. Machine wash recipe: Machine wash at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, delicate cycle, no spin with ‘Woolite. Black’ Seawater recipe: 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.

J Brand is always a safe bet when it comes to denim. Simple, great fits and no design on the pockets for you guys who care more about quality than the brand. Their Kane style is a slim straight leg jean with a classic raw wash. It’s up to you to get them all rugged and worn in.

Naked and Famous’  makes all types of interesting styles and thought-provoking fabric combinations (silk blends, cashmere, hemp and wax coatings) and limited styles which even include a scratch and sniff denim – their 10oz WeirdGuy Lightweight Selvedge is a perfect jean for summer because it is lightweight, but still maintains a crisp exterior. Perfect for all the raw denim lovers out there.

If you want to try something different, Hudson’s Blinder Biker Jean is raw denim in black with a bit of edge. Ben Taverniti, creative director of the company explains how he maintains his raw denim – “The best way to maintain raw denim is to never wash it,” he says. “Dry cleaning is best, but you should wait a minimum of 6 months to do so. I used to wear my jeans for a year and then dry clean. One time I wore a pair for 7 years without washing or dry cleaning.”

Now that’s hardcore.