Jeans with Josh: The Slow Denim Movement | By Josh Le

YOU MIGHT BE FAMILIAR with the Slow Movement and its iterations that advocates for a cultural shift toward slowing down life’s pace. I hope to shed light on another Slow Movement iteration that captured the interest of the clothing world over the past 10+ years: the Slow Denim Movement. As a brief introduction to raw denim and the Slow Denim Movement:

“Raw denim is denim that is unwashed, untreated, and virtually untouched to the extent that it remains in its purest form” (Rawr Denim).

This involves bringing denim back to its purest form in terms of fabric, manufacturing, and production without all the high-tech machinery and artificial pre-distressing. The Slow Denim Movement, among other features, is about naturally distressing your denim by letting it age beautifully along with your daily life. Other areas to cover are the artisanal production of denim instead of mass-produced versions, but that’s a story for another day.

My goal for the “Jeans with Josh” column is to present a critical analysis to raw denim and the lifestyle by a denim enthusiast (affectionately known as a denimhead). I’ll briefly introduce raw denim to those unfamiliar with the category of denim. There’s a fantastically interesting raw denim subculture that you can learn about by visiting Rawr Denim or superfuture. I won’t cover the nitty gritty details about raw denim on The Wanderer Online, but you’ll be more than satisfied with the aforementioned resources. My perspectives and opinions regarding denim are formed by critically thinking about my experience of wearing one pair of denim at a time (for a year or two each) while keeping up-to-date on denim news and opinions from Rawr Denim, superfuture, and other sources.

Why raw denim? I figure that if you’re going to wear jeans, you might as well invest in a pair that will age with you, tell a story, and become uniquely yours (it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. If you do decide to spend more, think of the cost per use!). The more you wear it, the better it gets. Everyone has a favourite pair of jeans. Why not wear your best jeans daily, without a guilty conscience, while looking and feeling like a million bucks? I can understand the arguments for pre-distressed denim because I used to roll that way. Once you go raw, you never go back.

If you’ve heard about raw denim before, you would likely associate it with gross people not washing their jeans for six months or more. I wanted to break that stereotype with a fun little experiment at the University of Alberta with Dr. Rachel McQueen, testing the bacteria counts of a pair of unwashed jeans for fifteen months compared to thirteen days of unwashed wear. In short, the bacteria counts came back the same. Not peer-reviewed, but there’s plenty of scientific legitimacy to it.

One last reason for raw denim, here’s my current pair of jeans:

Before: Naked and Famous Denim (January 2011)
After: Naked and Famous Denim (April 2012)

Josh is a Marketing major working towards his BCom. In his free time he enjoys growing and grooming his beard and playing with his cat, Tiger. Josh is currently reading various books of the Bible, Good to Great by Jim Collins, and One Thousand Beards: a Cultural History of Facial Hair by Allan Peterkin.

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  • Erika

    Josh, you should post a link to the evolution of your jeans album!