The Raw Denim Buying Guide, Part 1: Finding Your Style
Read Our Guide Before You Buy Your First Raw Denim Jeans
In this three-part guide, we will take you through the initial steps that will help you into the perfect pair of jeans. In this Part 1, we discuss a what it takes to ensure a good fit, the right style for the look you are aiming for, the right weight of denim, and a few places rich with information. In Part 2, we take you to the store and give you a rundown of the denim culture and how to find that pair for you. In Part 3, we will go over the first few days in your raw jeans, what you can expect in terms of shrinkage, how you should soak them, the bleed and what to do about it, how to cuff, and a few general tips and tricks about raw denim.
Consider Your Desired Look Before You Buy
Ask yourself what kind of raw denim jeans you are looking for. This will define all the decisions down the line.
Are you searching for a contemporary, well fitting jean or are you looking for something that appears to be straight out of the 1930s?
Both of these possibilities are catered for and everything in-between.
Your Choice of Historical Fits and Styles
If you are looking for a particular historical aesthetic then you are well served by Levi’s, Lee, and Wrangler. Recognisable names to all. You can also find many high-quality Japanese manufacturers that make reproductions of historical fits, accurate down to the last conceivable detail.
The Original Blue Jean
If you want the archetypal blue jeans; worn first by cowboys and miners then adopted by bikers and rebels – the jeans that defined the look of the counter culture that arose in the 50s and 60s – then the famous 501 is a good place to start.
The Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1947 501XX is a strong contender for the most archetypal blue jean. It is everything that blue jeans should be, well-conceived, a perfect balance of fit and cut, and well constructed. You can get more historically exact if you wish. The Lee 101Z was worn by James Dean in movies like Giant and Rebel Without a Cause. It is also widely agreed that Paul Newman and Steve McQueen favoured Lee.
Your Choice of Contemporary Denim
If a more contemporary pair of jeans is what you’re looking for, you have a vast array to choose from. It is not that the historically correct jeans listed above would not serve you well, far from it. The reason they have endured in fashion and popularity is that they provided a fit for all body types and lifestyles.
Nowadays, however, with a little trial and error, it is possible to find a jean that is as close to tailor made as you can hope to get without actually having a bespoke jean made for you.
There is a plethora of brands out there who fit the bill of contemporary denim. But there are the usual suspects. Brands who have made a name for themselves by simply creating the best denim jeans possible, with the best materials and the best construction, and selling them at a reasonable price.
If this is your first pair of raw denim jeans, we recommend you to check out brands like 3sixteen, Naked & Famous, Nudie Jean Co, Eat Dust, and even Indigofera. All brands we have come to respect a great deal and are jeans we would stand behind 100%.
The Decision is Yours, Historical or Contemporary Raw Denim Jeans?
Take a moment to decide what appeals to you most in raw denim. Ask yourself what brought you to the decision to buy your first pair. It may be helpful to not down a checklist.