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How to Minimize Fading on your Raw Denim

Even though scores of raw denim enthusiasts are focused on achieving crazy fades, there is a small subset of people who want to preserve the dark look of their jeans by stopping them from fading. These people may love the quality and beautiful selvedge that can come with raw denim, but not always the inevitable loss of that minimalist, clean look.

Maybe as a surprise to some, there are actually quite a few strategies for maintaining a dark color. Though this is the opposite of what most raw denim enthusiasts are interested in, you have to respect the moxie of those who go through the trouble.

Soak in water and white vinegar

Besides being used to get the funk out of clothing, white vinegar can also be used to “set” the indigo dye in a pair of jeans.

By mixing it with water (about a half cup for a tub full) and soaking the pair of jeans, the wearer can limit further rub-off and fades. Although this only qualifies as a soak, white vinegar is a good option for those who are fine with not fully-washing their jeans.

Hand wash with Woolite Dark

Woolite Dark is already renowned as the go-to detergent for washing raw denim, so it should come as no surprise to see it on this list.

If you absolutely must wash your jeans and you want to keep the darkest color possible, a small amount of Woolite Dark and a tub of water provide the ideal soaking environment. It should come as common sense that if you’re trying to limit fades, avoid the washing machine and its agitating spin cycle at all costs.

Iron regularly to prevent creases

Areas that crease on raw denim are usually the first places that fading appears; the crotch, behind the knee, and the seat are the obvious ones that come to mind.

If the wearer irons out these creases after every wear, they can help minimize fading in those areas. The downside of this strategy is that it’s time-consuming and takes a lot of dedication. However, if you’re dead-set on minimizing fades, anything is on the table.

Buy jeans that don't fade

Maybe the easiest tip on this list is to just buy jeans that don’t fade. Unfortunately, they come at a price and are especially rare. Pure Blue Japan, a brand well-known for their easily-fading denim, make a pair called the NC-005. The “NC” stands for “No Change,” meaning the denim is a fabric that won’t fade. The science behind the pair is that they’re dyed with indanthrene, a water-insoluble dye. The dye is commonly used in military clothing, since it is renowned for lasting through the harsh sun and countless washes.

PBJ notes that the jeans will show very slight signs of wear, but will not fade to a lighter blue like regular indigo-dyed jeans. If this option suits you, they’re available for the wallet-busting price of $315.

Refrain from strenuous activity

The last, and perhaps most sad option, is to limit the level of activity in your jeans. Getting brunch with friends? You’ll have to sit down at the table and risk creasing the back your knees. Have to walk your dog? You can’t risk walking that much.

We’re of course kidding here, but it highlights a certain point–that you should probably just live your life and stop worrying about your jeans. You can do some things to minimize fading, but stressing about every little detail removes most of the joy behind why you bought them in the first place.

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