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How To

How To Look After Your Jeans

Denim aficionado Mr Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean offers a definitive care guide, busting a few myths in the process

Put them in the freezer to kill bacteria and neutralise the smell… Soak them in coffee to restore their colour… Wear them in seawater to fix the dye… Roll in the sand to get the perfect fade… Never, ever wash them.

Speak to any denim devotee about his pet subject and before long the chances are you’ll hear one, if not all, of the above lines of advice or variations thereon.

Here, for example, is the maintenance guide from A.P.C. which could easily double as directions for prepping a New England clambake: “Let your jeans get dirty for as long as possible, go swimming in the ocean wearing your jeans, rub your jeans with dry sand, and repeat several times, rinse in fresh (not salt) water and let dry in the sun.” We love our friends at A.P.C. but this is a lot of work.

While the precise guidelines vary from brand to brand, the main rule that everyone seems to agree upon is not to wash raw denim until you absolutely have to. Why? Because while you’re breaking in a new pair, they will develop a shape and character that is unique to you – whiskering at the crotch, honeycombing behind the knees and perhaps the outline of your phone or wallet in your pocket. The fade lines can be so unique, in fact, that the FBI have been known to use them to successfully identify suspects at crime scenes.

As for how to look after your jeans, a lot of the so-called guidance you can read on denim blogs has become so apocryphal, it does not smell of indigo but has the distinct whiff of hogwash.

So we asked a bona fide denim expert to lay down the laws of jean maintenance for us once and for all.

Mr Michael Williams is the founder of respected men’s style site A Continuous Lean which celebrates quality and provenance. Through his work over the past seven years this proud son of the American Midwest has become one of the leading advocates for both well-made things and American manufacturing as a whole, a focus which led industry magazine Fast Company to name him one of the 100 most creative people in business. And it’s fair to say he’s a walking denimcylopedia.

Here, he talks us through the difference between prewashed and raw denim, discusses why some jeans cost so much more than others, advises on the length of time you should wait before washing raw denim, and demonstrates how you should wash and dry it when you can wait no more.

So does freezing malodorous jeans really remove the stink? Watch this film to find out. 

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