I once heard a story about someone who put their denim into the freezer overnight instead of washing them. I've had people tell me to hang them in the bathroom while I have a shower to steam them. I've been told to spray them with vinegar and hang them outside. These are, of course, all methods to avoid washing your jeans for as long as possible, which is apparently better for the denim and the environment.
The debate, and yes it is a debate, about washing versus not-washing has always sat uneasily with me. I am, quite clearly, a fan of the fabric - in all its guises. But the idea of just not washing my denim seems a little odd.
I get that it's all about preserving the integrity of the fabric and I support that. Really, I do. But it's the other reason for not washing that has me sidling up to the washing machine after a half a dozen or so wears. And that is dye.
Preserving the dye in the denim is heralded as a significant reason to not wash your jeans, but there is something about an old, faded and nearly falling apart pair of jeans that appeals to me on so many levels. I want my denim to fade. I want my dark washes to smooth into pale, I want my black to border on grey. I want my torn denim to shred and almost fall apart. I want lived in denim.
A pair of jeans that are faded and a little frayed around the edges will always be my choice over slick and sparkly new. I love denim that has a history, that tells a story. I love denim that changes over time and becomes something else.
And while it would be nice for that to happen organically with time and sun exposure and enthusiastic use, the reality is that I probably won't live for a hundred years to enjoy the results; and there's a good chance my waist line won't stay the same size either. Plus I'm impatient. So I wash. Not after every wear, sometimes after three or four or even half a dozen. But I do wash. And my denim fades and frays and the tears and rips get bigger and the buttons loose their sheen and I couldn't be happier.
And you know what, I reckon there is a fair amount of integrity in lived in denim. In denim with a story. In my washed denim.