The Raw Denim Buying Guide, Part 2: Finding the Right Jean
In Part 1, we asked you to consider whether you are looking for a historical or more contemporary look of your raw denim jeans. Answering this question should make you able to narrow down more precisely what it was that you were looking for in a pair of raw denim jeans. Now you’re ready to start searching for a specific pair, and after reading this part 2 of our guide you will be read to go out and try on some raw denims.
Always Try Before You Buy
Shopping for raw denim is fun. Armed with the knowledge of what exactly you are looking for, you are ready to go try on some jeans. Since this is your first pair, we urge you to go to a store with a wide selection and a knowledgeable staff. This is important because you get to try on as many pairs as you like until you get the perfect fit. It also gives you a chance to explore your local denim community. At the store, you will be offered a beer or a coffee – and they know you will want to chat.
The Staff is Often Really Into Denim
The staff at dedicated denim stores are into their denim. Like really into their denim. They will be more than happy and even excited to listen to what you are looking for and steer you in the right direction.
Be open minded if they point out something a little different from what you had in mind; take a leap of faith and give their suggestion a go. They see all different shapes, sizes, and builds of people each and every day. They have experience in what cuts suit what body type. Use this experience.
Preliminary Sorting: A Question of Size and Shrinkage
At this point you are more than likely staggering into the changing room with a pile of jeans almost as tall as you are. It may seem a little confusing, even overwhelming. There are the obvious questions as to the waist size, does it button up or is it too loose? This is an easy question to answer. It’s obvious. Or is it?
In terms of getting the size right we need to make a short digression into sanforized and unsanforized denim. Basically unsanforized shrinks by around 10%, sanforized by about 1-3%. Both will stretch out with wear but it is important to know if the jeans are sanforized or not as this will influence the choice of waist size.
Again, ask the staff, they will guide you through all these questions.
Finding a Fit that Pops
During all the trial and errors you will end up with two piles. The “no’s” and the “maybe’s”. The “no” pile will grow larger until you have your perfect fit. At some point you will find a pair that just pops onto your frame.
They will feel different from all the others. You have now found your new jeans. Keep trying on the remaining pairs; there may be something better in there. Eventually you will keep coming back to that one pair.
Again, back to the staff. Ask them how they look on you, how the waist is, the rise? If they are unsanforized, are they too tight? If they are you can size up. After the initial soak you will be left with the fit and size you fell in love with.
Why Raw Denim is Worth its Weight
There is one final point to cover. The weight of the denim. You will probably have noticed people talking about 13.7 oz. denim, 16 oz. denim, it goes all the way up to 32 oz. or more. This is the weight of the fabric per square yard. The higher the number, the thicker the denim – generally. Even if you are going for a lightweight 12 oz. you will notice a stark difference in the feel compared to the denim you are used too. It will feel more starched, stiffer and rougher. This is nothing but a good thing!
The weight of the denim influence the fades you can expect – probably one of the reasons you want to buy a pair of raw denim jeans in the first; to get unique and cool fades. As a general rule of thumb the higher the weight of denim the greater the potential for high contrast fades. But fades have just as much, if not more to do with lifestyle and how you use the jeans. Learn more about the weight of denim here.
Your Lifestyle Affects Your Fades
A motorbike mechanic will have much more defined fades than a computer programmer. It’s just about what you do in them. For your first pair we would recommend something in the 14 oz. range with plenty of potential for great fades but easier to break in than a 25 oz. beast.
Generally, you will find the lighter weight denim in the skinnier fits. It is simply more practical in the skinnier fitting jeans. The weight will be something that goes into that “pop” factor. It is about feel. If it feels right for you, then the weight is not so important.
The Painful Part: Spending your Hard Earned Cash
The next step is to take them up to the cash desk and pay. I’m sorry, we can’t help you with this. We can however assure you that your money is well spent (if you followed the steps above). There is a reason there is such a dedicated community out there to denim; it is wonderful stuff and you will undoubtedly soon become smitten by the indigo craze.