Denim heads rejoice

It’s not uncommon to find a $200 pair of jeans in stores these days, as the growing trend in artisanal craftsmanship has led to a boost in demand for raw denim jeans.

Photo by Danny Guo
Photo by Danny Guo

It’s not uncommon to find a $200 pair of jeans in stores these days, as the growing trend in artisanal craftsmanship has led to a boost in demand for raw denim jeans. These jeans are deemed “raw” because they have never touched water and are made of slow-woven denim called selvedge, which is produced in Japan.

Emerging denim producers want consumers to realize that jeans should be seen as an investment.

Jeans were originally created to be a tough and sturdy garment woven to stand the test of time.

Unfortunately, in recent years, quality for most standard brands has slipped considerably — most are lucky if a pair lasts a year.

By producing denim on old-style shuttle-looms — the same looms used by Levi’s in the 1950s — raw denim brands hope to inspire people to further value craftsmanship and quality over convenience and frugality.

Raw denim enthusiasts, or “denim heads” as they put themselves, want to experience the garment as it was originally intended to be worn. These enthusiasts pride themselves on how well they can fade their jeans, which may seem odd to most people.

The way denim heads see it is raw denim is a blank canvas and each jean will fade in a unique manner that is reflective of their lifestyle.

The most dedicated users will go as far as to never wash their jeans, as to ensure that their “fades” remain at a high contrast.

“People are looking for that piece of clothing that will evolve with them, that’s going to stand the test of time and take a beating,” said Eric Young, manager of Loop Clothing in uptown Waterloo.

In fact, Loop Clothing has been carrying raw denim for many years now, namely the Montreal-based Naked and Famous, one of the most celebrated and reputable brands in raw denim today.

“You’re getting a Canadian-made product with Japanese material and it’s actually made in the oldest shirt manufacturing plant in North America,” said Young when speaking on their decision to exclusively carry Naked and Famous.

Most Naked and Famous jeans can be bought for $150, putting it in the lower-to-mid tier for raw denim pricing. Yes, these are among the cheapest raw denim you can purchase, while brands such as Momotaro sell their hand-woven jeans for close to $2,000.

If you’re looking to purchase your first pair of raw denim, be sure to do your research. Figure out which price point you’re looking at and make sure you get the right size. Most denim enthusiasts will recommend going one or even two sizes down since most raw denim will stretch to conform your waist and legs.

If you’re on a low budget, I would recommend looking into Unbranded, a subsidiary of Naked and Famous.

Unbranded uses denim from the same source as Naked and Famous, but they are assembled in China rather than Canada, cutting the price to around $90.

Also keep in mind that sales are constantly happening — I’ve personally seen a $200 pair of Tellason jeans go for $60 at Over The Rainbow in Yorkville Mall in Toronto.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more, Naked & Famous and United Stock Dry Goods are both excellent and made in Canada.

Jeans made in Canada, the United States or Japan will tear and fray less and are bound to last for many years.

A quality pair of jeans may just end up saving you money in the long run.

I’ve barely scratched the surface, as there are a multitude of variables that go into the making of a single pair of jeans. If you want to learn more, there are a ton of online resources including and a raw denim subreddit, where you can learn more about brands and you can even show off your “sick fadez” to your internet pants friends.



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