I can’t help but notice that many of us denim lovers do our damndest to over-complicate the simple pleasure that is wearing great denim, I do it myself so I am one of the guilty. We all seem to have, need or want the esoteric knowledge for making the denim “ours”, to have the experience of great jeans on our terms, through our indigo uniformity we establish individuality. This thought started a couple of days ago as I was sat wearing my new, damp Samurai’s at the dinner table (much to the amusement of my 8 year old). “Why are you wearing wet jeans?” he asked, “I’m setting the creases on the back of my knees” I replied in total earnest, he collapsed in laughter and rightly so….it was a ludicrous scenario, a grown man sat wearing wet jeans in attempt to put creases in the right place because I was determined to finally experience defined combs so that I could show people on the internet, bloody ridiculous.
I suppose that what we do is just as strange as many other hobbyists with their quirks and behaviour patterns, but in denim it really becomes apparent when you try to explain to someone not part of this scene why you are doing a certain thing. Recently I have been explaining to many of my friends and family about denim contests, due to the impending DWC launch. Most people get it, some of them even like the concept and think it sounds like a lot of fun, but most of them also think it’s an odd thing to do and the thing is they are right. It is odd, but it is also what makes us love denim so much and I’m not just talking about contests I am talking about the practicing of our own rituals to attain our own distinct results from our chosen denim, of which things like contests, forums and social media groups are an extension of the sharing process.
The rituals extend beyond wear and share though, there are a plethora of view points around denim cleanliness from whether to soak, to when to soak, when should the first wash be, should it be a machine wash, how to dry and should a tumble dryer be used? Everyone has their own opinion, everyone swears that theirs is “the” way it should be done from the super anal to the super casual and every degree in between. The same goes for setting the creases (to do or not to do), hem or cuff, where and how to store your mobile in your jeans (if at all) and even how your jeans should be stored. I find this subject and the reasons which people give fascinating yet at the same time they definitely make me quite self conscious of my own lunacy when it comes to ritualising clothing.
My own rituals don’t seem all that strange to me, certainly not when compared to some of the things that I have read others doing, but the very fact that rituals around clothes exist at all is strange in itself. I soak every pair of jeans that I get, raw or not, to remove starch and chemicals from the processing and storage of the fabric, if this isn’t enough to get the required shrink I machine wash them with no spin and drip dry until damp, then finish them in the tumble dryer (all turned inside out of course). I cuff my jeans rather than hem, I always keep my mobile in the front left pocket, always in a soft case to minimise damaging the denim and my jeans are folded and placed on shelves rather than hung. In terms of washing I don’t believe that less is more, I wash my jeans when they are dirty, always inside out, always on 30 degrees and with a 400 rpm spin cycle, and I use regular detergent. These are my basic rituals, and I’m going to change a few of them to see if I have been wrong all this time.
My new Samurai 710OG’s were a pure vanity purchase, I didn’t need them but I wanted them, I sold on an older pair of jeans to make room for them, and I am going to treat them differently. I have no pressure to do anything in any time frame with these jeans, so I’m going to wear them for pleasure and (barring accident) try not to wash them for as long as possible, I’m hoping for a year as this is (believe it or not) something I have never done as I think it’s a bit stupid, but in the name of denim science I will give it a go. I’m intrigued to see if doing this will make any difference to my normal wear pattern at all and finally give me those defined combs which have eluded me all through my denim wearing days. There are so many people out there managing to constantly achieve magnificent defined fades, who have worn jeans similar to mine and are built similarly to me with similar levels of wear and activity, so I can only assume that the variation in results is because we treat our denim so differently. Perhaps it is time to break my habits, challenge my denim superstitions and learn some new rituals?