Distressing Denim

 In Talk

The Downright Dirty Practice of Mass Denim Manufacture

Why is Raw better?

So we can all agree that this place is a blue-tinted hell. But the steps to manufacture a pair of our beloved Raw Selvedge Denim jeans are not that different. The cotton must be spun and dyed, the denim must be woven, maybe sanforized. The fabric must be cut and sewn into a pair of jeans and the hardware added.

How come our jeans are so much better?

How and Where

It has a lot to do with where and how the manufacture takes place. Predominantly, the manufacture of quality jeans takes place in fully developed countries. These countries have stringent rules and regulations on all aspects of manufacture. The workers are paid a fair wage and working conditions are strictly monitored for safety and working conditions. Water is treated, removing any chemicals or other nasties before it is released back into the ecosystem and any other waste is disposed of in a suitable fashion.

What about the Wash?


Washing jeans to make them appear old and worn is one of the most damaging parts of the manufacture of a pair of jeans. Processes like stone washing uses thousands of litres of water, which in the case of Xintang, seems to be directly pumped into the rivers with all the bleach and other crap used in the process. Sandblasting the jeans with fine silica sand causes all kinds of respiratory problems for the workers who have to endure this day in day out with little or no protective equipment.

And the washing of Raw Denim? Well, we do that part. So there isn’t any.

Another point to the Raw!

Wear with Pride!

So take a look down at you raws right now. And take a little bit of pride in knowing that you are an essential part of the solution for places like Xintang. Consumer choice drives manufacture practice, it drives policy and it drives change. The industry is not going anywhere but little by little we can improve things by making the informed choice.

Best of all, we get sick fades for our efforts!


This article was pieced together from a number of different sources.

The “True Denim Capital of the World” is a Disgrace to the Industry. We should Act Now! By George Ayompe
The denim capital of the world: so polluted you can’t give the houses away. First published by DEEP magazine.

The dirty secret behind jeans and bras. Published by Greenpeace

China’s Textile Industry: How Dirty Are Your Jeans? By  for Time Magazine.
Photos by Lu Guang.


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