I just stopped by to visit our old friend Mike Hodis at his new Rising Sun store in Eagle Rock, here in Northeast Los Angeles. They’re having a sample sale today, and I grabbed some of his beautiful jeans for my wife, along with some Christmas gifts for the family. Mike and company will be there until five, and by appointment thereafter, so drop them a line. Their number is 323-982-9798.
Q and Answer: When Will My Jeans Fade?
Isaac writes: i got some nudie raw selvedge jeans about 3 weeks ago. i have been wearing the hell out of them yet, still NO FADES!!! is there anything i am doing wrong? please write me back.
Isaac, the same impatience that leads you to forgo capitalization at the beginning of sentences has betrayed you again.
You will generally start to see fading after a few months, with more appearing after your first wash, six months or so in. Super-faded jeans like those above are usually the product of a year or more of heavy wear.
“Thanks to you, when I needed a new pair of jeans recently, I bought my first pair of Levi’s shrink to fit 501’s. I did the thing where one gets them wet and lets them dry to fit, and I’ve never been happier with a pair of pants in my life! These jeans, coupled with a plain white tshirt and some decent shoes makes me feel like I’m the next in a long line of great young American men. Like Kerouac or James Dean.”— A reader/viewer named Alex… the next in a long line of great young American men!
This is pretty much exactly what it appears to be. My wife and I went to Barney’s to check out the sale (60% off a fair amount of stuff), and I walked away with a pair of Naked & Famous jeans. These are their 24 ounce denim pants - a denim about twice as heavy as the usual. Absurdly thick. And seen here (while still wet!) standing up on their own. Now that’s a pair of jeans.
Q and Answer: Treating Crotch Blowout
“Crotchless in Chicago” writes: After watching your excellent episode on denim, I decided to try out your recommendations on wearing raw denim jeans. Six months later, I am having the same problem I have had with many jeans in the past and would like your recommendations on my situation. The current pair of jeans are Levis 527s which I purchased in early December and have been wearing almost every day since. They have been hand washed in Woolite Dark exactly three times. The problem is that two or three months ago I started noticing significant wear in the crotch just behind the seam. I noticed this morning that this wear has progressed into actual holes. Just about every pair of jeans I have owned have ended this way. Is there some way I could prevent this or mend a pair after they begin to show wear?
First of all: let it be said that we do not endorse relaxed boot-cut denim.
OK: that aside, on to the issue of crotch blowout.
By far the biggest problem with rarely-washed raw denim jeans is crotch blowout. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but for some of us - presumably those of us with meatier thighs or sweatier balls - it is a consistent problem. The crotch is both the most friction-prone and swampiest area of the jeans, and the combination (dirt and moisture weakening the fabric, friction breaking fibers) can lead to a threadbare patch or even holes.
Patching jeans is easy enough. Better to catch the problem early, but your tailor can repair the damage largely invisibly for ten dollars or so. Many denim aficionados appreciate the “hand-made” look of a home patching - you can buy the patch at any fabric store for a couple dollars. You can also send them to a denim specialist like Denim Therapy in New York, who charge $7/inch of damage, and ship nationwide. If you want a perfect repair, call your local denim specialist retailer and see who they recommend.
Another option that I’ve used successfully in the past is using a fabric repair glue like Tear Mender. This stuff is like a weird rubber cement specifically for fabric. It dries clear and flexible, and does a great job of arresting fraying. I put some on the seam in my crotch when it looks like it might start to go, and on the inside of my knees when they get dangerously thin, and it’s held quite well. Be careful not to use too much - if it’s globby, it will attract dirt.
A Continuous Lean testifies on behalf of his Gap raw selvage jeans.
Q and Answer: Hem, Cuff or Stack Your Jeans?
Jesse (not me) asks: So since these new Levi’s you posted only come in one length, what do I do with the extra length? Roll it? Have them hemmed? Help!
This one’s a matter of personal taste.
First of all: remember to get the shrink out first. Even if the jeans are sanforized, they’ll lose a little length, so do your hemming after your soak.
Then, there are three choices: hemming, cuffing, or stacking.
A tailor can hem your jeans for you. If you happen to live somewhere with a fancy jeans store like Self Edge, they’ll have a chain stitch machine that can hem your jeans industrial-style. If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, any tailor or alterationist can use some fancy fabric work to retain the original hem while shortening the inseam.
Some people prefer to cuff their jeans a few inches. Until the middle of the 20th century, denim wasn’t widely available in varying lengths, so it was often cuffed rather than being hemmed. We’re fine with this, though you should know that it’s a much bolder choice aesthetically than uncuffed.
You can also “stack” your jeans. Unlike dress pants, it’s totally fine to wear jeans a little long. How this looks will depend on how wide the legs of the jeans are (on either extreme it starts to look silly). Some people are totally for this, some totally against, we try not to worry about it too much.
So: if your preference is neutrality, have them hemmed. If you feel comfortable looking a bit like a person who might use the phrase, “Hey youse guys!” then cuffing is for you. Stacking will give you a bit of attitude but a less clean look.
It’s On Sale
Levis Vintage Clothing 1947 501s
These are a much slimmer 501 based on the model introduced in 1947. I got a pair for Christmas, and they’re my every-day jeans. I personally prefer the higher rise to the low-rise options like the 514. Only a few sizes are left.
Big news from the folks at Levi’s… their most contemporary cut, the 514, is now available in Japanese selvage denim. They describe the finish as “pure rigid,” which I’m pretty sure means raw. It’s only offered in one length, so I’m guessing the denim is sanforized. The best part? They’re less than a hundred dollars.
My only beef with these is that they have a pretty low rise, which makes tucking a shirt in nearly impossible, but the cut through the thighs and legs is great. And for $98 at full price, they’re a very solid deal.