The Visual and Environmental Impacts of the Last Stage in Making Jeans
If you ask a denim fan what his favourite feature of jeans is, he’s probably going to talk about the way they fade. Jeans are unlike most garments in that regard; the more worn they look, the more we like them.
It’s not only enthusiasts who like jeans that have a lived-in look, most consumers do. In fact, even despite the resurgence in raw and unwashed denim, the faded look and soft touch of pre-washed jeans are still by far the most popular. While the denimhead prefers to create his own “wash,” most people are perfectly fine with taking a shortcut and buying jeans that are already washed and worn.
That’s one of the reasons why the sector of the denim industry that has seen most innovation over the past decades is the jeans laundering business. It’s the final production stage in the making of jeans; the procedures referred to as pre-distressing, laundering or—in industry speak—garment finishing, commonly known as ‘pre-washing.’ The result of this process is usually referred to as ‘washed’ jeans.
But what is pre-washing, how is it done, where does it come from, and what will it look like in the future? This third and last episode of the series about how jeans are made answers those questions.
The three parts in the series about how jeans are made are:
What Is Pre-Washing?
The starting point for any jean is raw and unwashed denim. That’s what all jeans are like when they leave the cutting and sewing stage. Essentially, you can start wearing the jeans without any further processing, which is what raw denim aficionados prefer to do.
The process of pre-washing covers a host of industrial garment finishing procedures that most jeans undergo. The aim is usually to replicate the look that raw denim jeans get with everyday wear and wash. It’s usually all about purposely ageing the garment.
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