No other item of clothing will visually evolve and shape to your body quite like raw indigo denim. Breaking in your jeans is a significant part of the raw denim experience and with time and dedication they will fade, wear and tear in ways unique unto you, becoming a visual diary of your daily activities and way of life. To start off, your raw jeans should be tight and starchy. Tight is right as 100% cotton denim will usually stretch a full size in the waist and thighs. Don’t be discouraged by the rigid feel as tough, starchy denim is best and they will mold and conform to your leg shape with each wear. You’ll notice the most dramatic change in your denim during the first three to six months of wear, after this your jeans will shrink and stretch relatively little. Although it might seem a long process to break in your raw denim from it’s initial stiff state, it can be fun and is always worth it! There are no set rules to break them in, but here are some easy and enjoyable suggestions on how to accelerate the process:
1. Bikes and Boards
Cycling and skateboarding are denim’s leading crotch blowout culprits, but they’re also great ways to stretch out and soften up your new pair of raws. Aggressive leg movements speed up the stretching process and the friction from rubbing on the seat, the thighs and the back of the knees will help soften the fabric nicely.
Tip: Get sweaty! Sweat can help mould the fabric to your legs as cotton is more elastic when damp.
Hiking is a great way to start the break in process (but keep it short for your first wear). Steep inclines and rocky terrain provide a great environment to get a full range of movement into your jeans and accelerate the stretch. If you’re feeling adventurous, jump into rivers, stand out in the rain or roll around in snow. Any water will help soften and stretch those jeans even further.
3. Soak ‘em
Before you do anything, you can pre-soak your jeans. This will lighten the colour as it removes the starch and excess dyes that make raw denim rough and rigid to begin with, but it will also make them softer and more pliable.
Tip: Research your denim fabric prior to soaking as different denims will shrink differently. To read a full breakdown on soaking and washing, view our earlier post here.
It sounds strange and uncomfortable but sleeping in your jeans provides six to eight hours of wear without leaving the house or being conscious! The heat from your body and constant friction will help soften the denim. This one has to be seen to be believed (late night drinks may be a prerequisite).
5. Join a band
Live gigs are a sure fire way to break in those raws whether it be up on stage or cheering from the mosh. Power stances, fly kicks, and the sweaty clawing hands of fans will soak and stretch your jeans.
Tip: Drumming in particular showcases some of the best results as the low sitting position and constant shifting provide extra tension and plenty of friction.
– James Davidson