Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Considering Ripped Jeans

GQ ran this shot in September, and I think it is one of the best versions of ripped/worn jeans I have seen in a while.

I can’t bring myself to buy “pre-ripped” jeans.

I was looking at a few pairs of my old jeans (the ones I was debating whether to taper the leg or to leave full) and realized that I have a very specific wear pattern to my jeans that is as personal as a fingerprint (and probably everyone does). Now that I realize it – I would feel self-conscious wearing ripped jeans that didn’t have the fraying on the right thigh left by my keys, or the abrasions on the coin pocket. I was surprised that even the stitching on the back pocket of the jeans was popped in the same manner and location on both pairs (stupid wallet).

Is there a rinse that I can use to slightly “re-darken” the denim?
I think the color now is great, but they will only get lighter and I want to keep them in them close to this shade.


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  1. Danielle

    December 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I agree. This photo is HOT. I think what, most importantly, makes this pair of jeans work is explained in the tiny type on the photo: “his own aged jeans” authenticity can never, in my opinion, be produced.

  2. Aromy

    December 16, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve never dyed denim before, but I´ve used Rit to dye other fabrics and it works pretty well. They have a special shade of blue just for denim.

    This looks like a good website:

    I´ve used a similar method.

    Good luck!

  3. The Man Who Knew Too Much

    December 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Hmm nice examples. Very recently, I bought a pair of Diesel jeans which are ripped at certain areas, and it s for the first time that I really like it and it fits me very well.

  4. Pretty Pirate

    December 16, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    wow those are great jeans. I wish I could wear one piece that long to make my own worn imprint. That is so cool. I got my used levis at a thrift store, they are amazing, considering I have seen worse ones on websites charging 200+ for the exact same worn levis, I would say I scored. Luckily someone else did all the work for me.

  5. Tony

    December 16, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I hate pre-faded jeans. They tend to be worn by “funboys” with blag blazers from Top Man, white belts and mad T-shirts with eagles sewn into them. Or even worse, phoney AC/DC numbers. Grr.

    If denim is going to fade it has to be natural. Is there anything worse than a pair of pre-fades with big white stripes down the front or even worse, the dreaded “oil wash”?

    The specimens pictured are splendid, thanks to their naturally worn look. They would look boss with a pair of box-fresh leather Converse pumps. I salute them.

  6. green lantern

    December 16, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Bravo! Jeans with “lived in” integrity!
    I like:
    Wallet imprints
    Skoal imprints
    Key abrasions
    Knee abrasions
    Frayed heel hems
    Paint and mishap splotches
    Any others I missed?

  7. Jorge from W Palm Beach

    December 16, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I agree on not buying pre-ripped jeans, I am all for wearing a pair of 501s until they are ripped in all the right places. Having said that, I did buy an old pair of Earl Jeans with some rips on them made by the previous owner, and I think that’s passable. Marc Jacobs was once quoted as saying he knew no jeans cost more than $50 to make, and that it would take an idiot to pay more than 50. Really, is there a better jean than the good old 501? Only if it makes you look smashing! Jorge from W Palm Beach

  8. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Am I crazy or does it seem that the proper look for mens jeans is a low cut- with the end result in a sort of distorted body shape of a long torso and short stumpy legs? In both the GQ photo and the man on LaFayette st. their body / leg proportions are borderline midget-y. Which I notice on many men and friends.

    Guess it is only us girls that like to show our full length of leg?

  9. Brook&Lyn

    December 16, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I’m obsessed with reworking my old jeans as well. I’ve ripped, bleached, studded, dyed and beaten them to death. I know there are denim blue dyes that are sold in your average craft store, unfortunately I can’t recommend a brand. Sometimes I dye my jeans black to maintain the dark denim. There is also the option to dry clean you jeans to keep the color. good luck.

  10. Andrew

    December 16, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    The quality of the denim on your levis probably isn’t very good anymore. I wouldn’t suggest trying to redye the fabric. I would suggest going out, buying a pair of heavy weight japanese denim (or a pair of raw wranglers for $16) and go spend a week in the wood climbing trees and boulders. After that you can repair any holes that may have formed and you’ll have a pair of faded denim much nicer than anything abercrombe is trying to sell.

    Or you can email me about pairs of american made naturally faded/distressed denim my friend and I are producing. It’ll saves you a ton of time, especially you city people, if you’re looking for that ‘I’ve fallen off my bike 6 times now’ look right away.

  11. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    This look screams “The Replacements” to me.

  12. wilsonian

    December 16, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Yes, signature wear for sure.

    I’m thinking you don’t want to add a colour rinse to these. In order to get any kind of consistent colour, you’d need to tint the whole garment. This would also, of course, tint the white threads. Ihmo, it’s the gorgeous contrast between the white threads and indigo that make the wear what it is.

    So, maybe not.

  13. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 5:48 pm


    I find your conundrum particularly interesting, if I was to be honest it is one that I have thought about often.

    The answer I believe is to wear your jeans in a staggered pattern and have three or four pairs on the go at any one time. That way when you have worn through one pair you can patch them to suit the way you wear them. Leaving you with pairs in different states of wear.

    I think by far the best example of what you are talking about can be found on the Nudie Jeans web site under gallery (there are examples of real world jeans). They are my favorite jean and seem to offer the best selection and cut.

    In Jeans we Trust


  14. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    I wish there was a rinse! I put new, shrink to fit levis in with my faded jeans and hang to dry for a boost. or, send to my friend in bali who has an indigo studio.

    in san francisco there is tsurukichi where the owner sends clothing to japan for an indigo dip and also offer beautiful patching service with japanese stenciled indigo fabric.

  15. ellastica

    December 16, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    this is the one page i tore out from that edit!

  16. GoodBuy/ByeGirl

    December 16, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Color change in denim of this age would be through repeated abrasive wear and sun exposure rather than laundering, unless you are using a strong whitening/brightening type of laundering powder that is pulling the blue dye out of the warp.

    As for making them slightly darker, there is a myth that washing old jeans with brand new ones will result in color transferral but while the new jeans will release overdye pigments into the washing water, there is nothing in everyday washing powders or liquids that will set the dye onto the old jeans and make it stick there.

    Your best bet for a long denim life is to simply not wear or wash them as often as you might like to. But surely you can pick up the phone and call the good people at Gap or maybe Scott Morrison for better insider tips?

  17. eric

    December 16, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    that was the picture that inspired me to buy a “very normal” 501, maybe even the shrinktofit version.

    great to see someone else recognize that pic.

    greetings form germany

  18. Jessica

    December 16, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I wouldn’t dye them – they are perfect as they are. Just wear them, enjoy them, and then get rid of them when they are past their prime. In the meantime, I hope you have a new pair started…

  19. dapper kid

    December 16, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    I love my raw denim jeans that I faded in, I wore them for around 8 months without washing to get the unique fading and patina I liked.

    If you want to maintain the denim shade, you are recommended to wash in cold water with added salt (apparently salt water helps prevent the indigo running). Cold water is the best way to maintain denim shading in general. Hot water tends to help create higher contrast fading. You can also buy denim detergents for helping maintain indigo, which you use on a cold cycle (30 degreee C).

  20. Iheartfashion

    December 16, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    I wouldn’t dye them. They’re just perfect now, and they’ll only look weird with a uniform all-over color.

  21. Angela Maria Theresa

    December 16, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Don’t try to “Re-Darken” your jeans. They will most likely be unwearable then, as to your taste (as they would be to mine)
    You like the color now, to keep it as long as possible, turn them inside out to wash, and only wash in cold water, hang dry (inside out) if you can, rather than use the dryer. That will make them “last” longer at the color they are now!

  22. ricola

    December 16, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I’ve mixed a denim rinse myself for a while that is like 2 parts Rit Denim Blue and 1/2 to one part Tan. It makes a blue that is a little dirty, not so all-american blue and holds fairly well if you are the sort who hand washes or rarely washes his jeans.

  23. kat

    December 16, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Dying them would undo all that great wearing in, the white thread would be dyed too. Maybe you need to start wearing in another pair of jeans to replace these ones when they become too light for you? They look perfect though! Great post Sart.

  24. megan

    December 16, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    i get those same holes in the back right pocket from my keys! the belt loop next to that pocket usually gets messed up too; i keep my keys on a carabiner on that belt loop and tuck them into the back pocket.

  25. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Are Levi’s 505′s a sartorial no-no? I own a pair of those, but not 501. If I get a pair of 501s, what size do I get compared to the 505?

  26. Smilla

    December 16, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Careful with the dyeing – the white frayed threads may end up blue. The jeans in the GQ photo are great, patches and all.

    A few years ago I thought denim on women my age (over 40) was a bad look. Then came dark denim, and the new denim. I bought a couple of pairs and was hooked. I love the paisley lining in the summer pair, with the pocket edges all frayed…. I could go on and on…

    Let us know how you go!

  27. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    I have some dark jeans that I want to keep dark. I have only washed one of them once on quick cycle in a frontloader (less abrasion) with no soap. Then hang dry.

    Another trick for other clothes is to do a final rinse in white vinegar. Vinegar helps seal the color.

  28. Afton

    December 16, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Hi, I’m wondering if you can give short men (like me) some suggestion on how to fit themselves by posting some pictures. I’ll appreciate if you do so.

  29. dapper kid

    December 16, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Woops 30 degrees C may be too warm. Chemically speaking, indigo dye (C16H10N2O2) is soluble in temperatures over 20 degrees C…so pretty much washing in cold water from the tap should be fine. Room temperature water would be a tad too warm for washing them in!

  30. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    But how do you keep the rear of the jeans from losing their shape? I have a pair of diesel jeans I’ve worn to death for the last couple years, they look fantastic, expect they’ve become a little too worn in the rear, and are losing their shape.. creating that so un-sexy sagginess.

  31. Laura

    December 16, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    My friend Dianne uses the RIT dye to keep her jeans the perfect shade – and she always looks great.

  32. crowsfeet

    December 16, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with Green Lantern, and I much prefer the photos of your jeans to the ad; authentic, well worn, well-loved 501s nearly bring a tear to this Wyoming girl’s eye. Don’t try to rinse them to preserve the color! For the same reason I say con’t shoot up an otherwise perfectly lovely face with Botox or Restylane; you are only delaying the inevitable for a short while and you risk wrecking what you’ve tried to improve. (Wash them inside out in cold water on the shortest possible cycle with the tiniest bit of soap and let them hang to dry. The jeans, not the face…)

    Years ago I had a favorite pair of jeans that made that magical transition from denim to flannel to gone in several critical regions, and so I patched them. Evey patch was a different fabric with a different color thread. I dropped the feed dogs on the sewing machine, set the stitch to the widest zig zag and made a satin stitch around the edge of each patch; on numerous occasions complete strangers offered to buy them straight off my person. I’m sure I could have made a killing, but would have had to go home in my underwear.

  33. Lisa Corriveau

    December 16, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Don't re-dye these jeans! They'll just end up looking like some of those solid-coloured monstrosities from the 90s… Denim has such depth & fades in such a wonderful way is because the fabric is not dyed after weaving, but woven with white fibres & blue ones.

    I tried dyeing a pair once & it was the worst mistake. I turned a faded pair of wonderful 70s high-waisted flares into an unwearable blue mess.

  34. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    sorry, but i’m not feeling the design director’s patched up jean situation (top photo). maybe it’s simply because my ‘doctored jeans’ radar has been unfortunately compromised by having seen so many bad renditions by jeans companies…so that whenever i see (even) an authentic patch-up, the effort looks laboured and contrived. those jeans just look past their prime.

    however, sart’s jeans look to be in the perfect state of ‘worn’ and i say protect those babies as they are now- do not re-dye, and do not wash in hot or put in dryer (as it’s the dryer that can also contribute to fading). wear them sparingly, and as another poster suggested, just start another pair on it’s ‘wear journey’…good luck!

  35. Krystal

    December 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Great old Levis are the best, and already worn, love it xx

  36. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Ive been wearing APC New Standards for a little over a year now and I have to agree that a pair of well worn Raw denim trumps any other pair of pre-distressed denim on the market.

    Unfortunately there is no way to get that dark color back. The main reason being the warp and weft cotton in the denim is blue AND white, a rinse/dye would dye both threads resulting in a awkward hue.


  37. Fashion Tidbits

    December 16, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    interesting. i think we all have our “signature” pairs…

  38. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Don’t worry about trying to ‘re-darken’ the denim. It’s beautiful as is.

    I’ve heard that a soak in cold water mixed with vinegar is supposed to help keep the color.

    For normal washing, don’t use a washing machine. Soak inside out with a good soap like Dr. Bronners. Avoid significant agitation as that causes the indigo (technically, indigo is not ‘in’ the fabric, rather it is stuck ‘on’ the fabric and the falling off of indigo is what causes the fading, thus you get more fading is higher abrasion areas) to fall off the jeans. Hang dry. Don’t use a dryer.

  39. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    that’s what I love about my raw demin, buy a pair then dont wash for 6-9 months and then once you wash they become a one of a kind

  40. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    as a teenager, i had this one pair of cut off, rolled up jeans i wore for years (actually, into my 20s). once they faded to a too light for my liking color, i dyed them with RIT dye, not an indigo hue, but a sort of brownish-reddish onion skin-like color which read as brownish leaning to purple over the faded blue jeans. yes, it was horrible, and i alone loved it. :) point is, the dye took pretty well initially. it did fade with time and i took to re-dying the jeans about every year or so to freshen it up. based on that, i’d bet you’d have pretty good luck trying their indigo hue. it’s worth a shot.

    hell, there’s nothing like wearing a pair of old, perfectly broken-in jeans. they’re like an adult version of a blanky except cooler and sexier. if you can find a way to keep them alive and working in your wardrobe in a way that’s still comfortable both physically and in terms of personal style, you’ll up your sex appeal by miles! :D

  41. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    wash them as infrequent as possible, ive gone a yea without washing a pair of jeans, it breaks them in and keeps the color except in faded areas from wear and tear of course

  42. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Just by chance I put my jeans in with my dark colour wash that included a new black top that leached colour through the lighter denim items just the way I could never have tried on purpose!depth! A short wash gives it just a tint over the primary colour and as they aren’t in long enough to colour the stitching all is well. Not sure how you find a tshirt that will dekiberately run and not run the risk of leaving patches on the jeans though!

  43. Anonymous

    December 16, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    they look like my pair … but mine are even worse, and that’s why i love them

  44. kiwibella

    December 16, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    I absolutely agree about the signature wear pattern. Since I started riding a motorbike a couple of years ago (I ride it every day) my jeans have had a totally different wear pattern.

    The insides of the thighs now wear faster from rubbing on the leather bike seat, the creases behind the knees are sharper from the riding position, and even the bum’s saggier for the same reason.

    I love my new wear-pattern because it tells a story about my life.

    I’m a girl by the way. A girl who has a motorbike as her only form of transport has to stop being too bothered about looking ‘pretty’ all the time and adapt her style a bit for practicality. Suits me fine.

  45. Toph

    December 16, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Lucky you’ve got such a nice wear pattern, Sart. Mine just tear in the crotch, all the squatting on the farm and a ragged bicycle seat. And these are 501s!

  46. Joseph Holmes comedy

    December 16, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Can I second the above commenter’s question as to why all men wear their jeans so low on the waist?

    to me, a low rise, combined with a fitted jean (and a cuff) gives a severely unbalanced result.

  47. Mad Hatter

    December 16, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I cannot get into the ripped jeans, im trying to keep my boys jeans around their waist.

  48. Kyle Dunn

    December 16, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    I read through the comments and I don’t think anyone has given you a correct answer about your jeans. You cannot make the denim darker by dying them because the warp thread is dyed with indigo while the weft is not. If you were to dye your jeans the weft threads would also take on the color (as well as the stitching) and you’ll come to find that you’ve ruined a favorite pair of jeans. My advice would be to start over with a new pair of jeans, but wash them VERY infrequently which will help to keep the jeans dark while the affected areas will be more pronounced. You could also get your jeans in the photos dry cleaned to keep the color they have. Send me an email if you’d like and I can answer anymore questions you may have more in-depth.

  49. sugarxnspice

    December 16, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    I love how you think of these rips from daily use as a ‘personal fingerprint’. Mine has the coin and the cellphone rips too; i think natural rips are much more meaningful than store-bought ripped jeans.

  50. ogun

    December 16, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    man Im rockin a pair of selvage 501s right now and I cant wait til they get like that! I only washed ‘em twice so far in a year or so. but I only wear them a few times a week not daily so i figure it will be a couple of years – shoot!!

  51. Bronwyn

    December 17, 2008 at 12:17 am

    I fully agree. I’d never dream of wearing pre-faded or pre-ripped jeans. It’s cheating. I always used to wear mine out in the butt, from sitting outside on the concrete fire escape steps smoking cigarettes, and on the front of the thighs a bit more slowly. Now that I don’t smoke my jeans last a lot longer before becoming totally indecent.
    And no I don’t think you can darken them, not and have them still look good anyway. You could start off with a darker denim though – if you can find it. Most jeans seem to have a slightly worn appearance when new these days.

  52. Arya

    December 17, 2008 at 12:17 am

    mr. schuman please dont dye your jeans. in my opinion, for best results stick to denim like apc’s (new standards if you want something looser than your new cures) and just dont wash them, that way you can break them in yourself and they will be unique. not washing them will keep them for a long time will let them fade but not get too light all around like those old jeans of yours. definitely check the forums at mynudies.com because they have tons of information on denim and getting the personal results you are looking for.

  53. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 12:24 am

    I am 63 yrs.old, I have been wearing Levi’s since I was about 10 yrs.old. I wore them painting houses, playing baseball and working on cars, then to school on Monday. I have worn them to a whiteness that would make Ralph Lauren jealous, but…I have never worn a hole in a single pair. The contrived worker look is just silly and decadent (in a bad way). Real workers wear their own clothes out.

  54. Giuseppe

    December 17, 2008 at 1:08 am

    You wear Levi’s. Good for you. Those are real jeans. Don’t have them tapered, don’t dye them or rinse them or whatever. Just keep weaing them and washing them.

    This is really the only way to treat jeans. All of this hoopla in the past few years about not washing them, etc. is a load of bull. A fad.

    The jeans you show in this phot look like they ought to. Like they belong to you and you alone.


  55. Dominica

    December 17, 2008 at 1:36 am

    funny..I just had a pair in my handson Monday…was doubting them – they reminded me of a pair I used to have in my twenties…a Levi’s one…you could find those in a little shop in Juan-les-Pins. I remember going back to that same shop the following year ’cause they just fit me so well …

    They’re a YES for me !

  56. Neil at ARN

    December 17, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Got to say it nice seeing a little more denim on the site/blog.

    not a fan of the ripped denim, the gentleman in the picture shows the life of the jeans, his world in his denim (or a very good wear pattern, at least)

    DO NOT like the over processed one in the garment shots.

    personally believe that denim grows with the wearer, become part of you and show your marks and uses


  57. Elementality: Evan's PR blog entries

    December 17, 2008 at 1:59 am

    You sem to have a ton of issues with jeans Sart! I think all these people have the right idea tho, cold water, no dye, little soap, short rinse.

    Or just get some from the guy in the pic and tailor them to fit you…nah!!

    I wouldn’t suggest buying pre=ripped jeans but if you want some nice fraying in places you wouldn’t normally get it, I suggest a dull pocket knife and some time! Rubbing the dull knife up and down along the area you want to fray adds a nice, even, intentional look to your jeans. I do it all the time, because I try not to wear jeans long enough to rip and I wash them all the time too, not always in cold water because I throw other clothes in with them, broke college kid-style. But and its really easy to stitch like, right around the frayed edges so it won’t spread too big or in unwanted shapes.

    wow that was long, hope you read this and umm I wear a Gap 35/30 if this tip inspires you to buy a broke college kid a Christmas Present!

    you could even right it off cause I’m a charity case lol…did I mention this is my favorite blog ever??!!

  58. zuccotto

    December 17, 2008 at 2:16 am

    I’m fine with jeans that have undergone wear on the wearer’s body. This faux stuff is plain silly.

  59. suzanne nelson

    December 17, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Sart – don’t dye them, all the white threads will go blue and ruin the effect. As for washing – resign yourself to not washin them as often as you might like and them only hand wash in cool water with mild detergent such as Woolite. Leave them to soak in the bath for say 20 minutes before gently moving them around to lift the dirt. As has already been pointed out it is the severe agitation from machines that removes the dye. Machines and modern detergents ruin clothes – i handwash as much as i can bear to.

  60. Lord Brummel

    December 17, 2008 at 2:51 am

    What could help you, Sart, is to wash your old denim together with a brand new one or other blue items you wash for the first time… that would transfer some of their color…

  61. XAVS

    December 17, 2008 at 4:01 am

    Well, i must say I do like pre-ripped jeans, but obviously nothing like real own-ripped ones…Anyway, when you buy the pre-ripped ones, no matter what you do, you end up ripping them more…

  62. farhad

    December 17, 2008 at 4:10 am

    I completely agreee scott. these jeans are amazing and the reason is that they are the real deal.
    I have been living with these words for a bout 10 years. buy an unwashed pair of salvage denim (current favorite being RRL’s slim fit) and wear them every day for a year or so until they form to your body and develop the proper patina. I never buy distressed jeans. looks too artificial.
    if I may offer this analogy:
    you can’t get rich overnight, it takes work. same thing applies to a great pair of worn in jeans it takes work and time spent. it’s a philosophy and a way of life. it requires passion.
    I always say that fashion can be bought, style can not!!!
    I’m really enjoying your recent stories on denim. thank you :-)

  63. farhad

    December 17, 2008 at 4:17 am

    scott I forgot to mention in my post above that if you want to preserve the color of your denim, don’t was them often. if so, wash in cold water in gentle cycle and use a little bit of vinegar (no detergent or mild detergent such as woolite black). also, turn inside out and never throw them in the dryer. cheers!!!

  64. Frutiger

    December 17, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Personally I wouldn't wash them AT ALL from now on if you want to keep the colour of them as they are. If they get dirty then a very light soak in the bath to remove any stains would be ok but other than that leave them. If they start to smell put them in the freezer for a few days & this will kill most bacteria & they'll come out fresh again.

    Going forward with new pairs I'd recommend the same, don't wash them unless you have no other choice & you'll end up with much darker longer lasting denim.

  65. Hyakoukoune

    December 17, 2008 at 5:51 am

    Real Old jeans are the best !
    I always said it “keep your jeans don’t throw them” ! ;)

  66. Cris

    December 17, 2008 at 6:03 am

    I completely agree with Kyle Dunn

    If you try to dye them the “imperfections” would get darker too.

    Besides if you do that you’ll probably get your shoes, underwear and maybe top clothes dyed too because of the contact with the jean (specially if it rains or it’s too hot)

    Let us know how you got to make it!

    Did you see the fallen angels? :-)

  67. Busby SEO Test Gary Viray

    December 17, 2008 at 6:06 am

    I think that is the beauty of jeans. You can be flexible in making refinements as it ages in time. I’m sure there are color chemicals that can be purchased to help improve its color also.

  68. Isobel Saoirse Dylan

    December 17, 2008 at 8:42 am

    It makes a personal touch to the jeans,I like it and think you should wear them!

  69. lintmag

    December 17, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I love this guy’s jeans! I have a few pairs of Levi 501′s in varying degrees of wear and they go through phases from too stiff to better to not the right color, then they fall into a perfect state where you don’t want them to change. I would not want them pre-ripped or worn usually, though if this man offered me his pair, I would grab them in a sec!

  70. The Sartorialist

    December 17, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I knew you guys were the ones to ask!

    i didn’t think about the rinse effecting the white thread.

    Luckily I have a few more pairs slowly working towards their beautiful demise.

    I have been wearing APC lately and I wonder if the different cut will wear differently over time.

    Lets revisit this subject in about five years.

  71. Carolina Lange

    December 17, 2008 at 9:16 am

    I know what you mean about the pattern of old jeans we wear.

    And once I died a denim and the result was really great. I just wanted the pair to have a darker shade and it turned out fantastic! You should try it, but try on a pair that you are not in love with, in case it does not your like you want to. Then post about it, please!

  72. Clinton

    December 17, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Sart — you’re considering taking in the legs on those beautiful old Levis? I mean, I like the slim leg too, but the new seam would never ever ever catch up to the old ones in terms of wear. This is the same effect as hemming a pair of washed jeans — it immediately screams “altered jeans!” because the little faded ridges are missing.

    I brought in the leg on a pair of raw jeans, and it came out pretty well. My conundrum now is if I should trim the seam allowances, even though I don’t have a proper serger. If I wash with the larger seam allowances (from bringing in the extra fabric), the abrasions on the leg seam won’t look right…

    Anyway, good luck, whatever you decide to do.

  73. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 10:04 am

    I used to spend months on end in the phillipines inspecting denim dye factories – I have a thought: when unusual striations occurred in the factories – or spots, etc – the little workers would take paint brushes with the dye and “fill in” the spots or even up the colors – and this was on THOUSANDS of pairs. Why not mix up some RIT and take a paint brush and see what you can do to darken? That way – you would not lose the white threads and could control the dye. Likewise – if you want more white – you can use sandpaper…..

  74. Stephanie

    December 17, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I remember borrowing my old boyfriend’s ripped jeans, I loved them so. I’d look down and see the shape of his legs.

    But ohhh, don’t waste your money on dry cleaning your jeans! They’ll just wash them in a normal washing machine and charge you as if they used the dry cleaner.

  75. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Letting “sweat and one’s own oil” age the jeans plain sounds disturbing. I know there are enough people reading this blog who stew their jeans for months (if not years) without a wash, but seriously, why can’t we just accept that pants need to be laundered just like anything else we wear?


  76. anthony

    December 17, 2008 at 10:43 am

    pre-ripped jeans are tacky tacky tacky, even if done by prada and sold for five million dollars.

  77. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I like Chaps Ralph Lauren relaxed fit classics personally: they are cheap (about $40), sturdy (great 11-13 oz. denim), great color that fades into a delicious patina that cannot be replicated by some fly-by-night denim mill. I have a pair that I have owned since serving in the military back in 1993–damaged, patched, paint-splattered and lighter than your jeans. They fit like gloves and I LOVE THEM!!

    Love those Japanese selvages, but there is nothing in the world like a great, personally-formed pair of button-fly 501s–they are true AMERICAN classics. I second the comments about the denim not being what it was years ago–there should be a movement to revive the old weights wide-scale for the sake of style but especially economics (they last longer). Jeans will always sell, because they are attainable, affordable and because classics NEVER go out of style. Again, Sart, great pics!!

  78. Mens designer clothing

    December 17, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I think big rips look nasty but small amounts of distressing look really cool

  79. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I wouldn’t risk trying to boost the dye with a commercial Rit dye (or something)

    I think the color looks just exquisite right now but I believe a little more fading will only make them better. I hate it when it’s store bought – but I love the look when the denim is almost the same color as the white frayed spots.

    If you do really want to retain this color I think the best bet is, like someone suggested, washing them with a brand new pair of dark dyed jeans. I would throw them both in my kitchen sink and add a ton of boiling, salted water. rinse with cold/salted.


  80. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    the man in the photo is hot! im going to go get me a pair of those levi’s just because of him.

  81. The Rambler

    December 17, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    (sorry for the double post, I wasn’t signed on, so not sure if the last post went through)

    I agree entirely, buying ‘pre-ripped’ jeans feels ridiculous. A friend of mine from Bucharest asked my rural cousin where he got his ripped jeans, and we both just laughed; of course he ripped them working on the farm. Some things are just too affected to be taken seriously.

  82. Anonymous

    December 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    You wash your jeans? If mine see a washing machine every six months or so, I think that’s about right. And I live in Chicago, they get worn and slightly dirty.

  83. From Sweden with Jeans

    December 18, 2008 at 10:49 am

    husayndas, the Shoes are probably Church’s ‘Shannon’ in Sandalwood: http://www.styledrops.com/handbags-9930.html

    One of the better ones made in the UK.

  84. eisbäer

    December 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    It’s just a no go. At denim there has to be no ripped part.

  85. Frederik Kok

    December 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    U should consider the A.P.C. Butler Worn Out series… They are custommade, people who come in and deliver us their old pair of A.P.C. jeans. Very beautiful, 100% unique!!

  86. Amir Sabanovic

    December 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I wouldn’t dye them. Personally, I think the best way to wear jeans is to never ever wash them.

  87. LizaD83

    December 18, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I’m with Mavenda on this one. As a semi-experienced dyer, Procion MX dyes are the best for use on cotton. Rit is just crap. Don’t even bother.

    Dye would most likely not look right because of the way denim is woven…but if you wanted to give it a try, I recommend this site for advice on how to do a real and lasting dye job. http://www.dharmatrading.com/info/

    (Totally not my site. Just really helpful.)

  88. cindy.

    December 18, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve done some research on dying jeans because I’m looking to dye a couple pairs myself and what I’ve found is dying your jeans will not make your jeans look like denim. The denim look is achieved by weaving white thread with colored thread. If you dye your jeans it will dye everything and you’ll get overdyed jeans that may look more circa 1980′s, which may not be bad. Even if you take it to someone to professionally dye they will tell you the same thing.

  89. V

    December 19, 2008 at 3:01 am

    I know what you mean.

    When I lose a button from a casual shirt or sweater, I never replace it with a matching button — always a different style, often with contrasting thread. If there’s a patch on my jeans, I have sewn it on by hand. I feel like ripped/worn clothing should be the result of my own wear, should be personal — the worn spots should have stories or memories behind them.

  90. Kazzy

    December 19, 2008 at 5:38 am

    It's a denim minefield out there; it's always best to go with gut instinct and something that suits your lifestyle & personality. As long as you look HOT it's all ok!

  91. gill

    December 19, 2008 at 8:41 am

    I worked for Diesel for a number of years. I found the best way to retain the wash is to add a little salt to the washing powder (obviously washing seperately any other clothing! Black fabric doesn’t like salt much!!)

  92. indigo warrior

    December 19, 2008 at 10:07 am

    When you purchase your jeans, wash them inside out, cold water. Add a cup of white vinegar or salt to the rinse water. This helps bind the dye to the fabric. I suppose you could do this periodically throughout the life of the garment. As a quilter, I do this when I pre-wash my fabric. I don’t have a fading problem with my fabrics. I also do this periodically with my clothing. Another suggestion is to never use as much soap in the wash as the packaging suggests. Half as much works just fine.

    I really love the pictures of older men on your blog.

  93. Anonymous

    December 19, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I tried the Rit Dye indigo washes and some other variations of blue on a pair of ones that my ass got too big for (sigh, aging sucks!) before I did a pair that I was forever in love with…DON’T!!! They come out this very, very strange blue. I practiced messing with bleach on the test pair, and did successfully get a patch to get to the “right” color…but I know some sandpaper was involved somewhere!

  94. Anonymous

    December 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Looking through the comments I have to ask: is it really ok to go so long without washing a pair of jeans? They’d get pretty nasty after a couple of months wouldn’t they? I admit, though, I’m no expert. I kinda wish I’d washed some of my old 501′s less often, actually. Along with the authentic wear, they’ve developed a bit of that stone-washed look over the years. Oh well.

  95. Anonymous

    December 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Another nice thing about Levi’s: They’re one of the only jeans without something embarrassing on the back pockets. I wish more brands just left the back pocket blank altogether.

  96. Celine

    December 19, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Ok, Mr Sartorialist, I’ll put you and everyone else out of your misery.

    So you want to dye your old denim jeans, keeping your own individual wear pattern, but you don’t want them to fade to that ugly 80′s open-end denim color??

    Well the answer is – yes you can do it. But don’t. Seriously, don’t…

    Firstly, most people would go and look for a commercial blue fabric dye to do the job? This just isn’t going to work. Regular blue dye and blue Indigo dye are very different things. Indigo has a very unique chemical composition in that it has a large molecular structure meaning that the dye actually sits on the yarn, not penetrating it fully. If you looked at the centre of a yarn of dyed denim you would notice it remains white. If you just go an buy a regular blue fabric dye, it won’t have this same poor color fastness. It will likely penetrate the yarn fully, meaning that you will result in a flat, even blue color that doesn’t fade like jeans do.

    Now secondly, most traditional indigo denim is yarn dyed not overdyed. You notice that the vertical yarn (warp) is blue and the horizontal yarn (weft/fill) is white/undyed. Therefore overdyeing your jeans will garment dye the whole damn thing, again resulting in a boring even color. After doing this, your jeans won’t wear and fade naturally and in the areas that you want.

    So what do you do… well there’s no easy fix (but thats whats cool about it!!)

    The answer is you just don’t wash your jeans. Ever! No seriously, Ever!! Dry clean them every six months or so, and in between throw them in the freezer for a couple of days to get rid of the bacteria and the smell. The color will come away slightly over the years – just from exposure to touch and light, and they will wear beautifully and naturally.

    Then, have a couple of pairs of raw/dry denims that you wear the hell out of them – after the first six months wash them as regularly as you like. You will get a great wear pattern and repair them as necessary…

    and Voila! the perfect wardrobe of denims….

    I saw someone eles’ post recommending Wranglers…

    I would stick to the vintage reproductions from the big original brands if I were you – Levis, Lee, Wrangler…

    The 13mwz by Wrangler is not bad – but the broken twill doesn’t fade and wear as nicely as a right-hand twill in my opinion.

    I would stick to Levi’s Vintage – originals if you can afford it otherwise the LVC reproduction lines are great.

    A 1947 501 is the ultimate – worn big and low for a exaggerated fit, or true to size as a straight leg.

    Then get onto the 1967 505 Levis fit as well – a slightly lower rise and slimmer fit. The perfect modern look to an authentic vintage jean.

    These 2 denim styles are really all anyone ever needs…

    OK enjoy!!!

  97. Shay

    December 19, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I like the idea of sewn on patches of darker denim as in the GQ photo…

  98. Anonymous

    December 20, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Yes, it really is ok not to wash your jeans. Just hang them up and air them out overnight after wearing; it works really well in an open window or a balcony, but indoors is fine too. If they are aired out, they won’t smell.

  99. Sefu

    December 20, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    If you just want to ‘hold’ the color the way it is, there’s a product called “black magic” that does this pretty well – it’s normally reserved for keeping the ‘black’ in black clothing, but it works pretty well for other colors too.

    I still have a few pairs of jeans from the late ’80′s – worn to sh*t – but beautiful in a way. Especially in the lack of knees ; )

  100. Anonymous

    December 20, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    In terms of uniqueness you can’t go wrong with Nudies. . .I’m not a big fan of raw denim but for personalization Nudies are awesome. At least they’re cheaper than Evisu
    Everybody seems to like them too
    I’ve seen the white-collars who rock them on a Friday night after work and just outside a whole group – yes, group – of skaters wearing Nudies

  101. audrey

    December 21, 2008 at 2:20 am

    I kept cuttings of that whole article/interview/shoot – it was incredible the differences in what people prioritise in their choice for denim, depending on what they wear them for, how long they want to have them, and how pedantic they are with denim care. awesome.

  102. Anonymous

    December 23, 2008 at 12:47 am

    The best to darken jeans is to have them re-dyed in natural indigo, i suggest contacting tsurikitchi in San Fransisco.

  103. Duchesse

    December 24, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Relax… let your clothes be clothes and age naturally. There is such a thing as too much occupation with clothing, and this embodies it. They are jeans, dig it.

  104. Anonymous

    December 27, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Oh, man: I am so very tired of “ripped”/”distressed”/torn-up jeans! How about getting decked out in perfectly new, perfectly blue, no-cuff 501a? Radical AND hip….

  105. Anonymous

    December 28, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    dont dye them, just start a new pair! keep it Levis 501xx anything else is an imitation really. MWZs are an amazing fit but the denim’s not that good they are only 30bucks in daves though. anyone know of anyone making MWZs in better denim or Blue bell reproductions? are those Church’s shannon shoes on his feet?

  106. ~M

    January 4, 2009 at 3:55 am

    This is a bit late, but possibly still helpful.
    I used rit dye to re-darken a fabulous pair of trouser jeans. I used the navy dye which was ok (although not what I had hoped for) because of the style of jeans, however, it would have looked very weird for any other pair. If you really love the jeans you want to redarken, I suggest buying a cheap pair that are the color of the jeans you have (old navy or vintage) and see how they react to the “denim” colored rit dye.

  107. evan

    January 8, 2009 at 3:53 am

    I might be crazy, but why can't you hand paint them to you liking?

    I've thinned latex-based paint and lightly brushed it onto jeans. At first it took away my well-earned whiskers and fades, but then with normal wash & wear, it faded exactly how i wanted it to. I used a copper color on a faded dark jean.

  108. natasha

    January 8, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    The key is to not wash them very often and if you do, wash them in cold inside out and air dry them. Don’t put them in the dryer. -Awesomely worn jeans!!!

  109. Dana

    January 11, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    you can buy the dye kits at selfridges but weft threads on denim are white and the warp is blue ( or is it the other way around?) so if you dye them youll change the whole color, you could use the dye really diluted tho. try it on a pair that you dont like that much first.

  110. Anonymous

    January 12, 2009 at 6:38 am

    Green Lantern: You forgot the “crotch wear”…My man gets this silly little hole on the same side and latitude on every pair…I suppose this happens to others as well. The problem is that once you’ve got a hole, there, you can’t really wear those jeans anymore-

  111. Xerox Phaser Ink

    July 17, 2010 at 4:18 am

    This jean looks very beautiful.


  112. Anonymous

    March 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    I have just spent 3/4hr reading the comments here.very intresting,

    But in my eyes.trying to re die jeans is pointless.

    Buying pre ripped jeans pointless.


    In late 60,s/70,s Levis first arrived here in uk.

    They were shrink to fit levis style number 502-0117 Zip fly,bootleg fit.

    After shrinking the jeans sitting in hot tube for 1/2hr then drying them,for a perfect fitting jeans.

    Real dark blue indigo colour.

    1hr cleaning the dye from the bath tube later.

    when dry and first wearing the levis looked so new,material really hard.time to break in the new jeans.this prosees of breaking in the jeans could take up to one year,hot washing in stong detergent ,the water was dark blue even then.

    The levis did not get to a moden day 501s levi blue colour until sun fadding and washing.12 mths.

    The feal of the denim at first was very smooth on surface until washed over and over then would start to feal softer,and like a very slight fluffing up.

    this was when the levis would start to look like real jeans with a great shape and look.

    This was time the jeans looked real cool,they begin to get the personal ID.

    After getting a pair to a real wearable stage there was no hold back. Wear and enjoy,

    Seen levis back then worn for as long as 20 yrs, and just getting treadbear in places,and of a light blue colour.

    This is wear the jeans came from throught the first ripped jeans in late 70,s,

    Patched up,treadbear, ripped,flared with matching denim.

    This was natral worn denims.

    the way jeans should be worn.


    Demand proper jeans made from good quality denim,and make them your person ID.

    If you want good jeans go for shrink to fit levis,

  113. Moncler Womens Outlet

    November 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    This photographs are perfect and did a great word, genuinely great job!

  114. brookers slane

    September 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    i know you already have a million posts on this one…but here goes. i don’t think it’s a good idea to re-dye the denim. when denim is made they dye the warp threads and the weft is left natural. if you re-dye these they will get kind of a ‘colored denim’ over dyed look, which might be okay…but maybe not desired. i would wear the shit out of them without washing and put in the freezer to kill any stinky bacteria between infrequent washing.

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    February 10, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I really do not like ripped jeans on grown men.
    However, If you are under 21 have some fun with it. I did in my teens!

  117. levilandlord

    July 5, 2016 at 3:10 am

    Totally with you guys on the look.
    Pre faded and ripped Levis just don’t do it for me.

    As a wearer of Levis BIG E from the late 60,s,I think that only the person wearing them can get that great worn torn look,through years wear and washing.
    The original Levi shrink to fit from the states are the best.
    Levi shrink to fit,that have been made since the end of the 90,s are not the same, material lighter weight. and the cut is not the same.

    Someone said $200 for a pair of originals is very expensive but if you want a great look well worth the money.

    During the first wave of second hand ripped/faded Levis in the UK in the late 80s/90,s ,Levis were every wear you looked warehouses full of old Levis.
    One store in kings rd London had a complete shop dedicated to worn trash Levis imported from the states.
    Many would have patched asses,patched thighs etc.
    But that all added to the great trashed Levi look.
    There was 3 grades of Levis,
    grade 1 Faded mid blue,worn no holes.
    grade 2 Faded light with tread bearing.
    grade 3 Totally trashed with rips, tears holes.

    from £40- £80 more trashed the dearer they were.
    and I can saw that more of grade 3 were sold to grade 1.

    I think this says a lot.

    If Levis went back to the days they made real hard wearing work Levis same materials and workmanship.

    Im sure people would pay anything up to £300 for a pair.

    A real jeans that you shrink to your body tight wear hard for years and you get the perfect pair.

  118. I’m currently doing the pre-production tests but it looks pretty promising.

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