My New Standards had seen six months of fairly consistent wearing and I decided it was time for a wash…well, not technically a wash I suppose, a cold soak. It wasn’t the smell that dictated the decision (they seriously didn’t smell that bad at all), nor even the magical six month mark. I more or less just got sick of the stiffness — they still could practically stand up on their own. I of course would not have even started to consider this had I not felt all the wear marks were well-established and I wasn’t 100% satisfied with where they were at.
This was the first time these guys hit any water whatsoever, and so I thought I’d document the before and after effects of cold soaking raw denim.
I did a quick rinse with them on in the shower with luke warm water to let some running water over them. Then, I turned them inside out, laid them flat out in my tub, and filled the tub up enough to make sure everything was submerged. I let them soak for a couple hours, rolled them up in some towels (that I didn’t care if they got indigo on them) to soak up some water, then hung them up outside in the sun to dry.
They tightened up a tad, but not a lot at all. Most noticeable were the taming of the knee bulges, which I was happy about. The color didn’t change much, maybe some very slight overall lightening of the color, as one would expect. The most notable difference to me though, was the softening of the fabric. After a couple hours of wear, the fabric softened up pretty nicely and that incredible stiffness they had before was gone. The hand is much more pleasant now, but don’t get me wrong, they still feel nice and rugged. It also lost it’s slight patina that it had developed (noticeable upon close inspection, it almost seemed waxed), but I feel like that might come back after some more months of non-washed wearing. The after pictures below were taken after about an hour of wearing post-wash. It’s been about a week now, and the color/fading has really taken on a new life and is starting look really really nice. The best way I can describe it is that the color seems to have been getting sweeter ever since the soak. I feel like I washed them right at the perfect time. I’ll post some pics sometime.
The above picture is probably the most accurate representation of the color the were before.
Notice the saggy knees. A quick note about the knees — Having two kids means that I’m constantly on my knees so they were pretty quick to fade. One thing I’m a bit bummed on is that when these were newer, they’d ride up quite a bit when I bent my knees, making the knee wear really low, pretty much at the top of my shins when I’m standing straight. Ever since I washed them, they ride less and I’m practically starting a new knee spot above the older one. It’d be a good idea to make sure when you’re breaking in your new jeans, that you train them not to ride up a lot when you bend your knees.
Wallet obviously in the left pocket. Right pocket worn from keys/mini flashlight/key hook that I hang off my back loop.
Some great honeycombing. Wouldn’t have been so defined had it not been for the initial stiffness.
Dirty ass cuffs/selvage. This cleaned up pretty nice after the soak. I did rub the selvage against itself to clean it a bit.
Close up of the twill pattern in the denim and how the indigo warp threads fade.
You could tell how stiff and crunchy they still were.
This is a closeup of a canvas belt I got a couple months ago. You can see how much indigo was still bleeding even after several months.
Notice how the knees tightened up compared to before.
Nice honeycombs minus the ultra-crunched look of before.