It's been a little over three months since I posted about the awesome selvedge Raleigh Denim jeans I purchased. As noted there, one of the keys to getting the most out of raw denim is to wash them as infrequently as possible. Though it sounds gross, some patience and the occasional shot of Febreeze will go a long way.
I'd been wearing them at least twice a week (sometimes more), carrying my wallet, keys, and phone at all times. They stretched out a bit from how they fit new, but still fit slim. Overall, they've been extremely comfortable and durable, and I've gotten plenty of compliments on them.
I washed my Raleigh's for the first time last week; they'd started to get a slightly slick feel, and THAT was definitely gross. To wash them, I kept them turned right-side out; some people recommend turning raw denim inside out, but I want these to fade in naturally, not stay as dark as the day they were born. I set our washing machine on the Wool/Delicates setting for a cold, gentle wash, and used a minimal amount of dye-free soap. I dried them outside, hanging over a railing in our apartment complex. I don't want them to shrink, so using a dryer was right out.
They took about two hours to dry. (Heavy denim holds a lot of water.) Once they were fully dry, I almost immediately put them on, reset my cuffs (they appear to have shrunk slightly in the length), and did a few squats to get them loose again. Same comfy feel as before, just a little less stiff. And then there's the fading.
The back pockets and seams are showing the most wear, and there's some whiskering apparent on the front pockets. The overall color is about a shade lighter, with the lighter weft of the fabric starting to show through. The stitching on these jeans is garment dyed to match the denim, so it'll be interesting to see if it fades in kind or stays dark as the jeans get lighter.
So now I'll wear them for another few months and then post again to see how well they're wearing in. For another perspective, check out this very visual blog from the folks who run Context Clothing.