Here’s a non-debatable fashion truth: denim is the ultimate high maintenance tough guy. What do we mean by that? Despite being a perennially on-trend, wardrobe hard hitter, it needs a whole lotta love if those good looks are going to last. Hold back on the laundry TLC and affection’s sure to fade as fast as that indigo dye, which can be close to heart-breaking if you’ve invested a small fortune.
So in the spirit of giving your denims the longevity they deserve, GRAZIA asked three top fashion designers who specialise in denim products to separate the jeans care myths from fact: Mavi Australia creative director Alison Hootman, General Pants Co creative director Therese Rawsthorne, and Jeanswest product manager for women’s denim Adrienne Famlonga.
All say the way you wash denim is the key, as is what you wash it with and what you do (and just importantly don’t do) as its drying. Who knew we were all doing it wrong this whole time?
Read on for their hot tips on how to wash jeans and other clever denim care
Q: what’s your best overall care advice for denim lovers?
Alison Hootman (Mavi) Our denim is not throwaway fast fashion – it’s a classic fit and comfy feel that is a versatile clothing option for years to come. With this in mind wear your denim lots and let it mould to your body and get the lived-in feel that only a very loved pair of jeans can display. It’s amazing how denim, unlike any other wardrobe piece, takes on the personality of the wearer. To keep it in its best shape and longest life do not over wash. There is simply no need with denim.
THERESE RAWSTHORNE (GENERAL PANTS CO) Denim is a super tough fabric so you don’t need to be too precious, especially the rigid denims styles that are key right now. The more you wear denim, the more character it will gain. But is it best to turn them inside out before washing and throwing them on the line.
Adrienne Famlonga (JEANSWEST) Always wash your jeans inside out on a cold cycle with minimal washing detergent, or even with just a dash of wool wash. Hang them (still inside out) in the shade or at least out of direct sunlight as this will fade your jeans. Don’t ever put your denim in the tumble dryer, as this will weaken them over time and can break the elastane fibres in stretch denim leaving unsightly wavy areas on your jeans and reduce their shape recovery.
Q: how often should you wash your jeans?
Alison Hootman We recommend washing after a minimum of two weeks of continuous wear. It’s much better for your denim and the environment. Denim by nature is hardy and looks best when lived in a little. After all, denim was originally the choice of manual workers who found that the thick weave and indigo colour allowed them to wear their work clothes day in day out without the annoyance of washing every day.
THERESE RAWSTHORN The more you wash denim the more it will soften and degrade over time. How much you wash them should depend on the lifecycle and ageing process you want from your jeans. If you want a vintage, worn look then wear and wash them loads, but if you want to keep them crisp, less is better.
Adrienne Famlonga As little as possible. Washing will always strip out colour, and the life of washed jeans will be much shorter than those that you only wash every now and then. There are some really great denim refresh sprays on the market that can be sprayed liberally over your jeans so they smell fresh and clean, while still keeping the original colour and character of your denim.
Q: what’s the biggest jeans wash mistake you see people make?
Alison Hootman Throwing it in a hot, hot dryer. I know we are all too busy these days to wait for things to dry but if you can avoid it, then do. Dryers shrink the natural cotton fibres and shorten the lifespan of your favourite pair of jeans. We are lucky in Australia to have the kind of weather that allows for fast, natural drying for so many months of the year, so put your freshly washed jeans flat on a towel, inside out and in a spot where there is some natural light and let them dry.
THERESE RAWSTHORN Too much tumble drying will ruin stretch jeans over time as the heat destroys the elastane fibres that create the stretch. Don’t do it.
Adrienne Famlonga Using normal laundry detergent on black jeans. Most domestic detergents are high enzyme and are built to strip away anything residual on clothing leaving them clean so you can imagine with something as unique as denim, which fades and loses colour over time anyway. Washing black jeans as you would normal clothing will have you wearing grey denim in no time. Wash them very sparingly and inside out, using a black wash detergent or wool wash, and allow them to dry naturally in the shade.
If you know how to wash jeans better, share your tips in the comments below!
Main image (top): Models wear current collection Mavi jeans