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    Vintage Jeans
     
    Vintage jeans are meant to look old, broken in, yet cared for. The purpose of pre-washing jeans prior to selling them is quite simply to allow us to skip the breaking in process.
     
    Distressed jeans, on the other hand, are meant to look like they have been through some horrific life experiences that have left them anxious, agitated, strung out.
     
    Destroyed jeans have been to war! They have been wounded, ripped and torn and have the scars to prove it. Yes, they suffer post-traumatic stress, they have lived through hell with us, and they will forever be our buddies. Now, you can pay for this distraught, tormented look, you can fake it with a little craftiness, or you can actually live through it.
     
    Die-hard blue jean lovers will most certainly not agree. They will only buy untreated jeans and will sometimes wear a pair for up to six months before the first wash. This is to guarantee a very specific type of wear marks, true to the reality of the actual experiences that the jeans have been subjected to. To learn more about their love for jeans, check out the home site of Nudie Jeans and their die hard approach to vintage jeans, or visit our page on caring for your jeans.
     
    A Revolution in Clothing
    Although this is a relatively new development in the blue jean industry, it has totally revolutionized it. On the average, women will pay $34 more for a pair of vintage jeans, according to Cotton Inc. You could say that it has become every bit as important as the cut of the jeans, and is discussed by true aficionados much like wine connoisseurs discuss the aging of fine wines. Achieving the desired results is not cheap, as it can take up to four or five production steps beyond the actual construction (sewing) of the jeans.
     
    Let’s take a closer look at the actual construction of the fabric in order to understand why the aging of jeans has such appeal that we are willing to pay a premium for it.
     
    Textile Science:
    Please bear with us. Some knowledge about textiles will help you to more fully appreciate what vintage jeans are all about.
     
    Denim is a fabric traditionally woven with what is known as a twill weave. This is simply a weaving pattern that produces parallel diagonal ribs. It is made by passing the weft threads over one warp thread and then under two or more warp threads. Weft is the yarn which is shuttled back and forth across the warp to create a woven fabric. In the USA, it is sometimes referred to as the "fill" or the "filling yarn". The most common twill used for jeans is 3x1 or 4x1. A 2x1 twill is used in lighter weight denim.
     
    The yarns used in making denim have a very high twist, a process which gives the yarn much greater resistence both to tensile stress and to abrasion. The original dye used to color the warp comes from several species of plants, but nearly all indigo produced today is synthetic.
     
    Traditionally, the denim was woven with a pre dyed warp and a natural (white) filling. The weft dominates the front of the fabric (3 to 1) and thus gives the appearance of an almost completely blue surface. The back of the fabric is dominated by the natural colored fill.
     
    Some contemporary jeans are dyed in the fabric stage, thus producing a darker dye jeans that retain their color longer, as yarns in both directions are dyed. To produce this darker dye jean effect, sometimes the finished garments is dyed.
     
    The twist of the yarn is so tight that the indigo dye can only color the surface, leaving the center fibers white. The enclosed white fibers are eventually exposed through wear and washing, as the superficial indigo is worn off. Obviously, the fabric will fade more in areas that are exposed to greater friction. It is this peculiar quality of denim, aside from its durability and comfort, that has so endeared it to consumers. It is this quality that has sparked the huge trend that vintage jeans have become.
     
    The Vintage Look:
    The vintage jeans look has become a catch-all phrase for any aged denim garment. It is meant to portray a worn in, classic, yet trendy and stylish appearance. The first instances of “pre-washing” can be traced to the 1960’s and had the sole purpose of breaking in the new pair. That era is long gone.
     
    This is our interpretation of where vintage jeans end and distressed jeans begin:
    Vintage Jeans: The fabric has been softened, shrunk and faded. Excess dye has been removed. Some controled fading in some areas, such as thighs and rear.
    Distressed Jeans: The exposed white fibers have begun to show wear. Filaments have been broken by friction, no longer just discolored. Some parts of the jeans, such as the edges of pockets, begin to show abrasion marks in the form of fraying. Stains and a certain level of dirty jeans look can be a part of this stage.
    Destroyed Jeans: The integrity of the yarns has been broken. The fabric will have actual rips, holes, tears and/or lacerations.
     
    Originally, breaking-in meant only shrinking and softening. Many of us still remember the days when a new pair of jeans were so stiff that they could stand on their own. It would take us weeks of discomfort and repeated washes to break them in. Many of our friends in the sixties would wear them in a bathtub to shrink a new pair and guarantee a true to your shape tight jeans fit!
     
    Once broken in they became a very personal one of a kind garment. As they aged, we became more and more attached to the comfort and unique appearance that they gave us. True vintage jeans!
     
    The more we used and washed them, the more a part of us they became. They mellowed like very fine wine and they grew old with amazing sensuality. Unfortunately, they also deteriorated, developed holes. They were slowly “destroyed”. We would space washes further and further apart in an effort to prolong their life. Like any living creature, they developed, matured, aged and eventually had to be put to rest.
     
    We didn’t have such an array of cuts to choose from, and breaking and aging them was a very slow, personal process. Throwing out an old pair was painful loss, as we had to break-in another, and we could never be sure if they would ever be as good as their predecessor. The more we wore them, the more we mistreated (distressed) the denim, the more it became ours. Modern vintage jeans washing techniques have simplified all of this, and in a way also robbed a whole generation of the joys of breaking a pair of new jeans.