Is Women’s Thirst For Raw Denim Tipping the Industry? We Talk To Some of the Frontrunners In Women’s Raw Denim
To find proper-fitting pair of high-quality raw denim jeans must be one of the biggest challenges in life for a woman. There’s an overload of brands, fits, colours and fabrics and most of them won’t fit as hoped for.
Personally, as a man, I’m not wondering why women can’t find the right brand or fit. I wonder why the brands haven’t developed a better product. However, it does seem that some brands have seen the light and are offering proper women’s raw denim jeans. We had a look at four of them.
Back In the Day and Back Nowadays
This might come as a surprise, but raw denim for women has been around for a while, as denim professor Mohsin Sajid of ENDRIME educates us:
“Levi’s made the first ever ladies jean back in 1934. Women have been wearing raw denim for over 80 years now, in most cases their husband’s or boyfriend’s jeans.”
So how is it that, despite having been around for the better part of a century, that brands fail to deliver in the raw denim segment? Again, Mohsin has what could be the answer:
“Since the 70s, stretch denim has been the norm for women thus leading to less 100% rigid denim in womenswear. Just recently, since early 2000s, we’ve seen the most pure denim brands dipping their toes in women’s raw denim.
In Europe, it is still harder to get your hands on women’s raw denim compared to Japan. In the US, you see brands such as Railcar Fine Goods and Raleigh doing a great job.
Overall, the main difficulties lie in the wide variety of body types to cater to. It’s difficult to get it right in one shape, especially with the stigma that ‘raw denim is hard and uncomfortable’ surrounding it.”
Pioneering the Way Forward
One of those brands that have been doing a great job in catering to the ladies is indeed Railcar Fine Goods (in the slider above). Founder Steven Dang didn’t do any market research on finding the right fit, but basically just started from scratch:
“I was making some jeans for my assistant who happens to be a girl. I also wanted to make a pair for my girlfriend. The fit we created was The Viper, which became quite successful and loved.”
Over the last couple of years, Railcar has built upon their success, adding two more fits to the collection and, perhaps unknowingly, making this difficult market more accessible:
“I don’t really pay much attention to the fashion industry actually, perhaps I should, but I just don’t. We keep to ourselves and do our own thing. Perhaps ladies are getting tired of poorly made and overpriced jeans, or they like the styles that men are wearing.”
An understandable point of view, as it could easily seem that most premium denim makers focus not so much on the market’s needs but more on what they feel is best. However, in a market as trend sensitive as womenswear, one might say it is indeed smart to listen to what the wearers have to say.
This Canadian Maker Says Women Understand Raw Denim Better Now
Another brand that understands and plays the market quite right is Naked & Famous. Experimenting with a wide range of fabrics (albeit not all rigid), colours and fits, they have all the ingredients in place. Risa Saito from the brand’s product development team tells us more:
“Since last year, we’re seeing a rise in number of female consumers visiting our store. We always had a small women’s raw denim line catering to the niche denim market, but we are expanding it from SS16.
We think that nowadays, women get the concept of raw denim better. They understand it and start to enjoy what we have to offer them. Of course, women are less extreme than most men when it comes to ‘sick fades,’ so the heavyweight segment is not key. The fit and fabric is what’s most important for our female consumers.”
It’s Key To Make Women’s Raw Denim Fit In All the Right Places
Perhaps the most intriguing and difficult element is indeed nailing the fit. Whereas most men can be categorised in just a few body shapes, women can’t. Again, ENDRIME’s denim octopus weighs his opinion:
“Most brands now just take a men’s jean and make it fit for women. Sometimes not even thinking about the pocket shape.”
Luckily, the more forward-thinking brands, such as ENDRIME, take lessons from the past and put their knowledge and skills to work:
“In the early years, most brands would make the fly opening in the opposite direction, and change the back yoke direction to make it more flattering. For some reason, most brands have neglected this in recent years.
We at ENDRIME think hard about the women’s fit and reducing what’s needed. We take away waistband stitches, make the details smaller, hide details, make less of the bulky twin needle stitches, all to compliment a woman’s shape better.”
So, will we see a raw denim revolution amongst women? In an industry swamped with brands and trends heavily influencing the way we think and consume, it might be impossible to secure a spot in the market for most.
But, as consumers seek transparency and quality more and more, it might be wise for those aspiring denim brands to (once again) try listening to what women want and develop the sexiest blue jean alive, from raw denim of course.
Women’s Raw Denim On the DH Store?
Obviously, ENDRIME, Railcar and Naked & Famous aren’t the only brands that make good women’s raw denim; brands like Livid, 3sixteen+, Nudie, A.P.C., Samurai, imogene+willie, Tellason, Baldwin and Jean Shop also do noteworthy raws for women.
All of this begs a question; should the Rope Dye store be stocking women’s raw denim? Coincidentally, our friends from Doublewood Denim do a great pair of skinny fit women’s raw denim jeans (the one in the slider above), plus a more relaxed boyfriend cut.
We don’t (yet) stock these on the Rope Dye store, but maybe we should? Join the debate below and tell us what you think.