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Letting Go: Ways to Retire Your Jeans

Once upon a time, your raw denim jeans were new. You drove to your nearest retailer or maybe you just took a chance and hoped the online size charts were right. You soaked—or didn’t—and you wore the ever-lovin’ hell out of ’em.

Now, years, miles, and who knows how many repairs later, you’re still wearing these jeans, but you have a feeling their time might be running out. Maybe it’s because your crotch is fully exposed, or that one tear on the ass just won’t stay shut. Who really knows? But whatever the reason, you know it’s time for you to retire your favorite pair.

Don’t make this transition harder than it needs to be. Don’t argue with your tailor when they tell you they can’t fix ’em. And certainly, don’t rock em with your crotch out. Your jeans have put hard work in and it’s time to let them live out their twilight years in peace. Here are just a few ways you can send your selvedge off into retirement.

Frame Them

Ways-to-Retire-Your-Jeans Jeans at Self Edge LA. Image via Albert Muzquiz.

Jeans at Self Edge LA. Image via Albert Muzquiz.

This is an obvious one, isn’t it? If you have a frame guy, call him up and get a big ol’ frame made to fit your favorite pair of jeans. It makes a lot of sense; you’ve put years and years of work into making your jeans the most unique and beautiful piece of clothing in your wardrobe and it seems wrong to just leave them in a drawer somewhere. Another great thing, with your jeans under glass, you won’t be able to smell them and you can stick to your crazy no-wash regimen.

The best thing about raw denim and this whole crazy world of fading stuff is the totally unique and individual end product you wind up with. If you’re proud of your jeans and the times you spent wearing them, then this is the method for you.

Send Them to The Jeans Museum


Ruedi Karrer in his Jeans Museum. Image via Long John.

This is a great option if you have a very well-faded or super-rare pair of jeans. You’ve probably seen the self-proclaimed Swiss Jeans Freak online, hiking and skiing in totally thrashed jeans. His name is Ruedi Karrer and he loves jeans more than you’ll ever love anything. His love for jeans is so intense that he has established his own Jeans Museum.

Ruedi’s all about wear. He wants people to wear their jeans intensely and honestly. You’ll often see him online begging folks not to wash their jeans, applauding their “denim evo,” even asking for pictures of well-used pocket bags. That’s how deep in it he is.

Upcycle Them!


Patch up your blowout. Image via Heddels.

The jeans are retiring, but that doesn’t mean the denim has to just sit around in a drawer somewhere. If you don’t want to hang up your jeans for all to see, or let strangers fondle them at the Jeans Museum, then maybe you want to re-use that beautiful worn-in fabric to make something cool and new.

You could upcycle that supple, faded denim for all kinds of things. The most obvious choice is to use them for patches, but we’ve seen tote bags, wallets, watch straps, rugs, tapestries, ineffective scarves—all kinds of things made from denim. You can do whatever the hell you want with the fabric, it’ll allow your jeans to live on, reincarnated as a new object.

I prefer to make my old jeans into Karate Kid-style bandanas and challenge strangers to fight me, but I’m kind of basic that way.

Sell ‘Em for More Jeans


APC’s butler program. Image via APC.

Certain brands, specifically A.P.C. and Nudie, want your well-worn pairs of jeans for their less-motivated customers who want out-of-the-box fades. In this case, your jeans will have to leave you for their retirement, but their sacrifice (at least at APC) can get you 50% off on your next new pair.

If you want to sell your jeans, you may want to use a program like these offered by actual brands. You can always try your luck on Grailed, but it’s often hard to resell worn jeans. Even if they’re super cool and look great faded, most customers looking for denim in this tier would prefer to fade their own. Lone Flag recently started selling pre-worn jeans, but they don’t say exactly how that program works.

Help a Scarecrow


Scarecrows with awful jeans. Image via Wikipedia.

If there’s a scarecrow in your local cornfield who the crows just don’t respect anymore, it could be because his jeans suck. To be a scarecrow, you don’t just need to look vaguely like a human, you need clout too. How better to achieve this much-needed level of fashion competence than by receiving a gifted pair of raw denim.

Honestly, your unprepared crotch blowout might freak out the birds. “I don’t want to see that!” they’ll screech to each other as they flee from your oily, high-contrast fades. And the scarecrow will probably be grateful you faded them for him, seeing as he doesn’t move all that much.

Throw Police Off the Scent


This dog can smell your jeans. Image via govtech.com

Here’s a scenario: you commit a string of heinous murders and you slip up. It happens. You left evidence at the scene and the authorities are bearing down on you.

You have to think fast. They’ll be at your house soon and even if you flee into the woods, they’ll certainly track your scent with special K-9 units. But you’re not stupid. You smash the frame you keep your old, stinky jeans in and you run out into the forest. Wearing a brand new pair of jeans, that aren’t nearly as rank, you plant your old pair somewhere out in the wilderness and run the other direction.

Those dumb dogs will follow your smell and wind up totally embarrassed because they’d just been following your jeans and not you at all.

And then you won’t go to jail and can continue to murder uninterrupted.

Freeze Them


Image via Heddels.

We’ve pretty conclusively proven at Heddels that freezing jeans doesn’t do much for stink, but we hadn’t considered the stuff on and inside old jeans.

It’s just possible that your genes are somewhere in your jeans. Your genetic material, depending on the kinky stuff you’re up to, could easily end up inside your now-retired jeans. So save those precious bits of DNA in the freezer until the technology exists to completely clone yourself.

That’s right, you (or versions of you) could live on for eternity all thanks to a combination of never washing your jeans and your trusty freezer!

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