Dry or raw denim (contrasted with “washed denim”) is denim that is not washed after having been dyed during production.
Over time, denim will usually fade, which is considered desirable by some people. During the process of wear, fading will usually occur on those parts of the article that receive the most stress. In a pair of jeans, these parts include the upper thighs, the ankles, and the areas behind the knees.
After being made into an article of clothing, most denim articles are washed to make them softer and to reduce or eliminate shrinkage (which could cause the article to not fit properly after its owner washes it). In addition to being washed, “washed denim” is sometimes artificially distressed to produce a “worn” look. Much of the appeal of artificially distressed denim is that it resembles dry denim which has faded. In jeans made from dry denim, such fading is affected by the body of the person who wears them and by the activities of their daily life. This process creates what many enthusiasts feel to be a more “natural” look than the look of artificially distressed denim.
To facilitate the natural distressing process, some wearers of dry denim will abstain from washing their jeans for more than six months. Most dry denim is made with 100% cotton and comes from several different countries. In particular USA, Zimbabwe and Japan are popular sources of cotton for making raw denim.
Dry denim also varies in weight, typically measured in by the weight of a yard of denim in ounces. 12 Oz. or less is considered light denim, 12 Oz. to 16 Oz. is considered mid-weight, and over 16 Oz. is considered heavy weight. Heavier denim is much more rigid and resistant to wear, but can also take more wears to break in and feel comfortable.
Patterns of fading
Patterns of fading in jeans, caused by prolonged periods of wearing them without washing, have become the main allure of dry denim. Such patterns are a way of “personalizing” the garment.
These patterns have specific names:
•Combs or honeycombs – These are faded lines that are found behind the knees.
•Whiskers – Faded streaks that surround the crotch area of the jeans.
•Stacks – These are created by having the inseam of the jeans hemmed a few inches longer than the actual leg length. The extra fabric then stacks on top of the shoe, causing a faded area to form around the ankle, extending up to the calf area.
•Train tracks – These appear on the outseams of the denim. This pattern showcases the selvage by forming two sets of fades which resemble train tracks.
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