What is Raw Denim?

Written by Marc | 27/07/2016



Raw denim dates back to the first ever pair of jeans, designed by Levi Strauss and Co. in 1873. It is completely untreated denim, that hasn’t been washed, worn or rinsed. Jeans are crafted with cotton, then taken straight from the factory where they are threaded together and dyed, and then sent to the shops.

Raw denim is sold when it is still un-sanforized; which means they haven’t been treated to stop them from shrinking. This is why it is suggested you leave raw jeans at least six months before washing, giving them time to sculpt naturally to your body.

Raw 2

This also allows the denim to develop unique fades and abrasions based on how you wear them. Each pair of raw jeans will have different creases on the knees depending on what you’ve done wearing the jeans and can have fades around pockets depending on what you carry around.

Prior to the 1950s, all jeans were made with raw denim and were hugely popular with all types of people. From bikers to miners to those in Hollywood, everyone had begun wearing jeans.

As the demand for jeans increased, people wanted to buy jeans at cheaper prices, and in more colours. This meant that the material was treated more, to provide variations and be reproduced at a faster rate.

Nowadays, both raw and treated denim are available all over the world. Some companies still favour the raw denim style, like Levis, Nudie and G Star Raw; believing that the act of wearing in your jeans over several months completes the art of true craftsmanship.

How is it different to normal denim?

Compared to regular denim, raw denim is much harder and stiffer – due to it being untreated. However, this means the colour in the jeans will last longer, and only fade naturally rather than through washes. Some people believe that raw denim should never be washed fully. The idea is that stains and marks should be dealt with individually.

This can also stop the fit from changing, as it may do when you wash your jeans. When wearing raw denim in the rain, you also need to be careful as this could shrink your jeans or cause the dye to run and stain other clothes.

Because of this, raw denim is more suited to a slimmer fit, as it naturally hugs the body, leaving less material to shrink and change over time.

Nudie 2 Levis G StarNudie 1

Because of its long-lasting, durable material, raw denim is a lot more expensive than treated denim. Despite this, it is certainly worth the extra money. The jeans will last longer without ripping or fading and become truly unique to reflect who you are.

Mainline Menswear sells a huge selection of jeans, available in both raw and treated denim. We also sell products from famous raw denim brands, including Edwin, Nudie, G Star Raw and Levis. If you want to browse our extensive stock, click here to find out more.

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