Sick fadez, or “hige” as it is known in Japan, are the holy grail for many a denim enthusiast, a badge of honour, the jeans equivalent to a chest full of medals. The denim scene, particularly around the forums, creates localised celebrity status for people who consistently achieve the sharpest most defined wear patterns, and deservedly so for their efforts. What constitutes a sick fade is a purely subjective matter, while most favour the sharp jagged line creases mainly found at areas where the material is most often manipulated there are also those who prefer the overall indigo loss most associated with vintage jeans used for actual manual work. On this argument I am firmly in the latter camp.
Lets talk about the most common types of fade and how they are achieved to better understand the what and the how of sick fadez.
1) Honeycomb fades appear mainly on the back of knees and are caused by the constant manipulation of the material in that area through activity. The two major factors in defining your honeycombs are how the jeans fit, and the amount and type of activity that you do in the jeans. A closer fitting jean will have more potential for dramatic and defined honeycombs than a looser fitting jean simply because the manipulation of the denim will be more extreme, and if you spend a fair amount of time climbing or cycling in your jeans then this is also going to help. Weirdly sitting at a desk all day with your legs crossed does not really lead to beautifully clear, lightning bolt style combs, as I find to my own frustration. Also worth noting is that the length of your jeans has a bearing on your honeycomb fades as the extra length stacks around your calf (oddly called “stacking”) and thus extends the honeycomb.
2) Roping is one of the lesser noticed but nonetheless highly regarded fades. It appears around the end of the folded hem of your jeans and is especially prevalent on a chain stitched hem due to the puckering effect. The roping fade is a sign that your jeans have been made the old school way, with a hem stitched most likely by a vintage Union Special machine. Roping is more defined one jeans which are worn uncuffed due to the natural wear which occurs at the bottom of the jeans in contact with your footwear.
3) Clearly defined lap fades are the hallmark of someone who spends a lot of time either doing work which requires them to be bent at the hip, i.e. a mechanic or a road worker, or they are caused by someone who spends a lot of time sat down, like me. The lap fade is the only fade that my job of sitting on my ass all day really allows me to perfect, and I have come to quite enjoy it. After honeycombs it is probably the most notable fade pattern to the outside observer.
4) Vintage fades are characterised by a general loss of indigo over a large area rather than defined lines. this kind of fade is associated with people who work in their jeans and spend time either crawling, kneeling or laying down as part of their job. Unsurprisingly the term vintage fade comes from the point of fact that back in the day ranch hands would quite often find themselves falling off horses, being dragged by horses or cattle or sleeping under the stars, whereas miners crawled around in dirt and tight spaces, both resulting in general colour loss. These days you tend to see these types of fades on people who spend a lot of time on their knees measuring and cutting things, such as carpet fitters and pattern makers.
The main ingredient for the average jeans wearer to acquiring sick fades is the one thing that people don’t want to hear, time. There are short cuts, you can work in them, sleep in them, wear them damp after a wash to help set the creases and I have even read about people using sandpaper on their crease lines to increase definition, but none of these things is a substitute for just taking the time to wear your jeans regularly and simply living your life, this is how you get YOUR fades, trying to artificially enhance them is a falsehood and your fades will reflect that. Let time and wear do its work for truly sick fadezzzz.