Jump-Start Your Raw Denim Addiction With One of These Jeans
Raw denim and the fades that come with it are quite addictive. Once you’re hooked you’re hooked!
It’s the getting started that’s the hardest part. Specifically choosing the very first pair of raw denim jeans can be challenging and confusing. I’ve seen this myself countless times.
To get some perspective on the topic, I’ve asked a handful of raw denim retailers to share their experience with the jeans they’d recommend to someone who’s new to raw denim.
A.P.C. Petit Standard (€150 @Tenue de Nîmes)
“Now, I know these jeans look like cardboard but let me explain why you’ll appreciate them,” says Menno Van Meurs, owner of Tenue de Nîmes. In his opinion, the best way to start your raw denim journey is with a pair of A.P.C. Petit Standards.
To convince customers who’ve never worn raw denim before, Menno usually explains how the jeans will curve around your body, and make you feel like they were custom made for you!
Raw denim jeans are so attractive to us because they are personal. Unwashed jeans will show exactly what you do in your life and how you treat the jeans after some months of wear,” he adds.
On top of that, raw denim is made to last; they’re durable and you don’t need to replace them anytime soon! And unlike pre-washed jeans, raw denim jeans don’t require water or chemicals to get that worn-in look. You’ll be making that yourself! This means they’re more sustainable too.
A.P.C. might not be the choice of enthusiasts, but the brand is indeed a good choice for anyone who’s new to raw denim. The jeans are decent value for money, and they’re made from Japanese denim. The Petit Standard has a slim cut and a contemporary look and feel.
LEE 101S (@Statement)
“Usually, we ask our customers if they’ve already worn raw denim before,” says Josh Heise, co-owner of Statement in Munich. “Depending on their experience, we often end up talking about the do’s and don’ts—like the big ‘washing or not’ discussion.”
“We then tell our customer that our jeans are like what they used to be: 100% cotton, unwashed, indigo dyed, and manufactured on old shuttle looms.”
One of the jeans he often suggests to customers who’re new to raw denim is the LEE 101S.
First of all, the fit suits many different customers and body types. It’s based on the 1941 Slim Rider model with a medium to high rise and a slightly tapered leg. That makes it comfortable in the thigh area but gives it a slim silhouette, which is what European customers want.”
Getting started with raw denim, finding the right fit is essential as you’ll be wearing the jeans on a daily basis. And once you do that, the denim will naturally start to fade.
“The most appreciated quality of raw denim is that it’s like a diamond in the rough; it gets more beautiful as you wear it. And that’s regardless of whether the jeans cost €150 or €400; they’re going to become ‘yours’.”
The 101S packs a great denim; a 13.75 oz. left hand twill Japanese selvedge fabric that’s made from 100% American cotton, which has been ring spun and dipped 13 times. The selvedge ID is white and blue.
In the end, the 101S is one of those American icons, which delivers a great all-around package to get you started. And the jeans look equally good worn with a blazer and dress shoes or an M65 jacket and Engineer boots.
Circle of Friends M2 Regular ($215 @Standard & Strange)
“We start just about every customer who’s new to raw denim and uncertain about fit with the Circle of Friends Studio M2 Regular,” says Jeremy Smith, co-owner of Standard & Strange.
Raw denim is what we have on offer, and that’s enough to filter out folks looking for pre-worn jeans,” he continues. “We do have a few sample pairs of worn denim floating around the shop that people try to buy, and we use those as examples of what you get if you put the time into a pair of raw denim.”
In Jeremy’s experience, the conversation often starts with something like ‘do you have something in a lighter colour?’ That naturally leads to a talk about how a lighter colour typically means a pre-washed pair of jeans. In Jeremy’s opinion that also equals lower quality.
“We then pull out some worn examples to show how things look after some time, which also helps with the value proposition of $200+ jeans; the cost per wear is low!”
Back to the M2. They’re raw, but the Candiani denim used is the softest raw denim in the shop. “The hand-feel on those will get the customer into the dressing room.”
Other selling points for the M2 include:
- 100% Italian, which means everything (denim, trims, cut and sew) is done in Italy
- The slim-straight fit works for most body types
- Immediate comfort thanks to the soft hand-feel of the Candiani denim
“Customer-wise, they really work for most average body types, and most styles. I’ve seen them work for serious denim-heads, and guys coming off of GAP or J.Crew,” Jeremy ends.
Edwin Classic Regular Tapered (DKK1,400 @Brund)
You may have seen the news already, but I recently got back into retail myself. After a hiatus for exactly four years, I’m back in the store where my denim obsession really took off; Brund in Copenhagen.
The store stocks a solid selection of raw denim jeans, including Edwin’s European line-up. Including the entirely Japanese-made jeans from the E Standard collection.
The jeans are cut and sewn in jeans with a super clean construction. But the fit is very ‘Western,’ which is a good thing! And the Japanese-milled 13 oz. selvedge denim with ‘rainbow’ ID fades amazingly!
Edwin argue that these jeans have no direct competition in terms of quality, price point and a ‘Made in Japan’ provenance. I can’t disagree. (DKK1,400 ≈ €188)
Personally, I would go for the regular straight fit, but for someone who’s new to raw denim I would suggest the tapered fit, which gives that slim silhouette that so many are looking for.
Pherrow’s Lot 466 ($190 @Blue in Green)
“At Blue In Green, we carry products we believe is of the highest quality and integrity, at all levels,” says general manager, Alfie Boyle.
We do often have customers who are purchasing selvedge raw denim for the first time, and then we would always ensure that we’re speaking to the product in a way that educates and informs our customers.”
One brand the NYC-based store recently started working with Pherrow’s from Japan. “They’re making some great denim that would be well suited to a first-time selvedge indigo buyer,” Alfie continues.
Pherrow’s wouldn’t necessarily be considered a beginners brand. But the incredible value they represent at $190 for the Lot 466 makes the jeans great for anyone who is trying selvedge denim for the first time.
The jeans feature all the details you’d expect to find on jeans from purist Japanese reproduction brand: They are made from 100% cotton 13.5 oz. Japanese selvedge denim with a yellow ID. Naturally, the hems are chain-stitched.
They’re not too light that you will burn them out before you’ve worked in some fades, but they’re not so heavy that they will take you weeks of continuous wear just to be comfortable,” Alfie reasons.
Now, the jeans aren’t technically raw; they’re one-washed. But that only makes them a safer first pair for a first-timer as most of the shrinkage has been taken out.
“The 466 has a contemporary slim straight fit that makes them immediately accessible for someone stepping into the world of vintage-inspired denim,” Alfie adds.
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