Tips for Breaking in Raw Denim

Every pair of custom jeans we make at Detroit Denim is 100% raw.  This means we don't use any finishing treatments or washes to break in, soften, or distress the jeans.  That's your job!  When you first try them on your custom jeans, they will be STIFF, maybe even a bit uncomfortable.  Don't worry!  They'll break in.  This breaking in process usually takes a few wears, but you'll notice that they're easier to move in after the first few hours of wear.  The more movement you do in the jeans, the faster they'll break in. 

Here's where you can expect the most stiffness from your new raw custom jeans:

1) Waistband 

 If the waistband is snug at your first try-on, they're just right.  As the jeans break in, you'll gain one to two inches of extra "give" throughout the waistband.  If you want to speed the process along here, take the jeans off and close the fly and top button of the jeans; give the waistband a good all-around wrenching.  Don't worry - you won't break them!  It's common practice around our shop to keep the top button of a new pair of jeans unbuttoned for the first week of wear.  By starting off snug, they'll fit just right once they break in.

2) In the "Bends"

 You'll especially notice the stiffness of raw denim in the places where your body bends - on the frontside of the jeans, between your hip and upper thigh, and on the backside of the jeans behind the knees.  One of the first things we do any time we put on raw denim are some deep leg lunges and squats.  We can't recommend this enough to help with initial comfort - a few of these every few hours during their first wear will really help speed up the break-in of these flexion points in the jeans.

3) The Drape 

Your new raw jeans will drape (or hangs) in a very rigid way.  This, too, will soften with wear as the jeans break in.  Many people experience the "growing leg phenomenon" where the jeans seem to get longer with wear, but really this is just the fabric breaking in, softening, and draping more loosely.  Don't worry - you're not shrinking.  The initial rigid drape of raw denim is what leads to the exceptional fade marks over time.

The best thing you can do to break in your jeans is to simply move.  The more movement you do while wearing the jeans, the faster they'll break in.  And remember to enjoy the journey!  Good things come with time, and this experience deserves to unfold on its own timeline.  Some people like to record the progression of their jeans breaking in and eventual fading through photos, or by tracking their wears and washes. Whether you're tracking them daily, or just taking a look at them every couple of months to notice how far they've come, checking in with the evolution of your jeans is a truly unique and personal experience.  Enjoy!


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