What is Raw Denim?

Whether they’re stretch or rigid, every custom jean we make at Detroit Denim is raw.  Most jeans you find offered commercially today are not raw, but instead have gone through a series of industrial processes to imitate the faded look of a well-worn pair of jeans - this is called a "rinse," "wash," or "distressing."  Read on to learn more about why we are dedicated to producing raw denim custom jeans.

Why raw denim?

1) Hugely Reduces the Amount of Water and Chemicals Used During Manufacturing 

Jeans take TONS of water (literally) to produce.  According to the UN, the average pair of jeans produced today requires 2,000 gallons of water.  Over 35% of this water use comes from the final laundering stage. During industrial laundering, chemicals like chlorine, potassium permanganate (PP) and sodium hypochlorite are used in conjunction with abrading materials like pumice stones and sanding equipment to give the jeans that "already worn in" look. After these treatments, the jeans need to be rinsed multiple times to remove chemicals.  While there are a few shining stars in the industry who are working on methods to reduce and recycle the water used during apparel manufacturing, the majority of waste-water from the industry is not treated before returning to the global water supply.  In fact, 20% of global waste-water is created by the fashion industry.  Yuck.

In short, lots of bad stuff is happening to the environment just so people can buy their jeans at the "already 50% into their life cycle" look. We like to take the long view; your raw denim jeans may start out dark, but they will get that beautiful, lived-in, washed and distressed look, someday.  But they'll get there because you lived in them with your body, washed them gently, and distressed them through the natural wear that occurs over time; not through artificial distressing, harsh chemicals, and by using abrasives to shorten the life of the jean.

2) Raw Jeans Last Longer

When jeans go through the gnarly industrial washing processes described above, the goal is to break down the fibers and distress the jeans, just as your body would naturally with years of everyday wear.  The artificial distressing process “ages” the jeans, so that they’re already well into their lifespan by the time you buy them.  It would be like buying a set of tires for your car that already have their tread pre-worn down a couple thousand miles by the folks at the dealership.  Seems kinda silly if you ask us.

3) Superior Fades

Don’t get us wrong, we love the look of faded, broken-in jeans.  But we think that those fades look best when it was you who put them there.  With raw denim, the distressing happens slowly, over time. Your jeans become a wearable diary that tell the story of the life you’ve lived in them through their unique marks and fades.  They require a bit of delayed gratification, but we think the experience and results are more than worth it.

TLDR; Raw denim jeans last longer, look better, and are far more eco-friendly to manufacture than their washed counterparts. For these reasons, we remain committed to producing raw denim jeans.

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