WHAT IS RAW DENIM AND HOW DO I CARE FOR IT?

We don’t just talk about ethics and sustainability, we live and breathe them. One way we can demonstrate this, is by showing you how to care for your A.BCH garments, and other clothes in your wardrobe for that matter.

Image by Sheree Porter 

11.02.2017

Caring for Raw Denim
Courtney Holm

Raw denim. Sounds fancy, right? Raw denim has had a comeback in recent years, made popular by the purist denim enthusiast. We're here to tell you a little more about the stuff and how it can be cared for. 

What is raw denim?

Raw denim is a term used to describe denim (aka a twill cotton fabric that has been dyed indigo coloured blue) that once dyed, is not washed or chemically treated. You know when you buy a new pair of jeans with rips, fades, fold lines and otherwise distressed features? To get them that way, they have been either treated with chemicals (ie. acid wash) or washes (ie. stone wash- literally the denim is washed with pumice stones or blasted with sand) to create "worn" effects. Humankind's desire for the pre-loved look on an unworn item comes at a cost. In fact a single pair of jeans can use around 27,000 L of water in its production. Workers are also at higher health risks with these processes, for example, when sand blasting jeans, tiny particles are often inhaled causing severe respiratory disease. 

At A.BCH, we prefer things to age naturally, with as least harm to people and the planet as possible. Lucky for us, unwashed, untreated AKA raw denim, is as cool as gelato. 

Why does raw denim need to be treated differently?

Because no excess dye has been washed off, the fabric is ultra rich in colour. Unfortunately, this dye can then "rub" onto other lighter coloured items that it comes into friction with (think white undies and blue jeans, or a tote bag on a white tee). Usually this washes out easily enough, however you may not want to risk your expensive whites in this way. 

How do I stop the "rub"?

There are a couple of options. Many enthusiasts refuse to wash their raw denim products, and the "rub" is a natural and celebrated part of the ageing process. If denim items get stinky, you can put them in a plastic bag in the freezer to neutralise odour-causing bacteria. If you have jeans or a denim shirt that is likely to come into contact with lighter coloured articles and you don't mind minor colour change, then simply put the item through the washing machine before wearing. Now, PLEASE. For the love of God. Please, use cold water. Organic cotton fibres must be washed on cold. Also, use a gentle (eco-friendly) detergent, and never use a soaking agent or bleach. Hang it to dry and then wear it to your heart's content.  If you choose to wash your raw denim, then always wash with like-colours or black in order to preserve other precious items of your conscious wardrobe.  

Got questions or some killer raw denim care tips? Hit us up at hello@abch.world