Denim Lore with Kiya Babzani, Part II
Yesterday, we talked with Kiya Babzani – co-owner and founder of Self Edge – about whether or not people should really wait six months before washing their jeans. Today, we’ll explore three other common beliefs in the denim community, including the one about taking a bath in your jeans when you first bring them home.
Derek Guy: It’s commonly advised that jeans should always fit extremely tight when you first buy them – to the point where you can barely button them up. Is that true?
Kiya Babzani: Definitely not. There are two deciding factors when buying jeans: does it look good and does it feel good? If you’re stuffing yourself into a pair of jeans two sizes too small because that’s what the blogs and message boards tell you, you’re doing it wrong.
DG: Isn’t the idea that some jeans will heavily stretch over time?
KB: If you’re a 32 and you buy a pair of jeans in a size 30 to account for stretching, you’re going to look like a stuffed sausage and have red slashes at your hips for weeks. That’s neither comfortable nor attractive. Also, most decent jeans don’t stretch that much with wear. The maximum is about 1.5” or so unless you get them extremely tight when new.
DG: How about the idea that you should first wear your jeans in the bathtub while letting them soak?
KB: People like to overcomplicate the wearing of jeans. The idea that you should wear your jeans in a bathtub is a terrible idea. It’s not only uncomfortable, but it stretches out the jeans in unnatural ways. It creates knee-bagging and pulls at the hips, giving you hip-flare.
It’s true, however, that you should always soak unsanforized denim before wearing (you don’t need to for sanforized denim). If you’re buying them from a store, you should find the fit you like then buy one size up and do a 30-minute hot water soak once you bring them home. If you’re buying online, just buy one size/measurement up from your true size.
You need to soak unsanforized denim so that the shrinkage is gone before you start the fading process. The jeans will also last far longer if soaked before wearing. You don’t need to do it while wearing them in the tub, however. Again, this will just create unnatural stretching in areas such as the knees and hips. Just throw them in a tub, sink, or bucket, and let them soak.
DG: OK, let’s do one last bit of denim lore. I’ve read that raw denim will mold to your body. Is this actually true?
KB: Yes, all raw denim will mold to your body, but sanforized denim only slightly molds, while unsanforized denim will take on the shape of your figure. If you take two pairs of jeans in the same fit and size, one sanforized and one unsanforized, soak them both in water for five minutes, put them on, and let them dry (not something I recommend doing, by the way, for the reasons mentioned above). This will quicken the process of “molding.” Afterwards, you can take the jeans off and lay them down. You’ll then notice that the sanforized pair will be nearly like they were before, while the unsanforized pair will look like you’re still wearing them.
DG: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Kiya
KB: Thank you.
(Photo credit: Farhad Samari)