The truth is I have never washed my jeans. And the first time I told a good friend of mine on how to break their jeans in using this proper method, she freaked out. She could not believe I told her to NEVER wash her jeans. Hold on one second – keep reading.
I told her I had learned directly from a cowboy but in fact, I had been educated at the beginning of my career from designers and executives at Levi’s (who manufactured denim for cowboys). Denim was designed as a tightly woven cotton with an indigo pigment coloring that was meant to “break down” over time through wear and tear and in order to ensure you get the proper fade and the much desired effect of “whiskers” (the term used for the fading of the lines around the zipper area). That coveted fading of those natural “fold lines” zooming out from the zipper area to the pockets is what many denim designers have tried doing in a very manufactured way. But nothing will allow for that type of organic fading other than natural dirt and everyday wear. You have to allow the dirt and natural particles to settle into your brand new jeans where it will start to work in the breaking down of those rigid cotton fibers. But if you throw your jeans into the wash, you will lose that natural fade result that you love with old jeans and the color will fade to a flat color, and not to mention the woven denim fabric will seize up. In short, washing your jeans will keep them from fading – the right way.
But that doesn’t mean you also have to smell like you never wash your clothes either. Here are three ways to keep the denim fresh while keeping the fade authentic.
1. FREEZE IT: Throw your folded jeans (don’t bag it though) into the freezer overnight and that will help freeze most of the bacteria – and odor – off.
2. SPRITZ WITH VODKA: Yep! Fill a spray bottle with vodka and do a light spritz on certain areas to get rid of - and kill - any unwanted odors.
3. DRY CYCLE ONLY: If you are wanting a bit of “freshened up” fit, then toss the jeans – inside out – for 20 minutes in the dryer.
Illustration Martin Allais