An Introduction To The World of Indigo

by thejourneyofdenim

Choosing a pair of denim is more than just picking up the first pair of jeans that fit at Forever 21. There are several factors that go into the construction of denim, from the region of the world it originates to the presence of selvedge or lack thereof. Picking out the perfect pair will make your journey that much more your own. Pictured below is a great depiction of one of the many ways your denim can fade and the time it takes to do so.

A pair of denim over a span of 8 months. (Source:

First, determine your true waist size. Different brands may run large or small, but they will state if they do and how to act accordingly. If the denim is unsanforized (not pre-shrunk), then you will need to purchase one waist size up and utilize a pre-soak to shrink them to your waist. Unless you are purchasing a heavy weighted denim, you have no need to worry about unsanforized denim, because most denim is sanforized (pre-shrunk).

Once you have determined your size, the next step is deciding whether you want a selvedge pair or not. Selvedge denim is crafted from a style of loom created in the late 1800’s. Made to prevent raveling, selvedge denim is woven in long strips with a refined edge adorned in a specific color (typically red) to signify the selvedge finish. While having this particular method does not equate quality, most denim of this nature is made with care and in fewer runs than other pairs. Most denim with this finish will come from Japan or America.

Denim without the selvedge lining. (Source:

Denim with selvedge lining. (Source:

The weight of your denim will be the next decision you make. Did you even know denim is weighed? Most denim weighs anywhere from 9 ounces to 11 ounces. Upon entering the world of raw indigo, you discover that denim can be anywhere up to 32 ounces like the pair from Naked and Famous. Heavier denim will feel uncomfortable at first for two reasons: the first being you are simply not used to the raw weight on your legs and secondly, the denim is just that heavy. Do not fret however, they will become softer with time and you will get used to the weight.

Despite the route you choose to take, feel comfortable in your decision. You will be wearing them for a while.  As far as washing is concerned, my philosophy is: wear them often, wash them, well, not so often. Most people do not wash their denim for the first six months. However, if you are like me, I never wash my denim. Ever. For those of you who choose to do so, washing should be done by hand in a cold soak. Most importantly, your denim should never be placed in the drying machine. The purpose of wearing the denim is to allow natural fading to occur. Placing the jeans in an environment with elevated temperatures and constant pressure can create unnatural and uneven fades. That is one way to end your journey quickly.

Some great entry-level brands are Naked and Famous, A.P.C. and Nudie Jeans. Do your research on brands, read their stories, purchase a pair and begin your journey. But most of all, make the process your own and know that after months, wait, years of wear, you will be the only person in the world who owns a pair of denim with fades such as yours.