Style Manual

It may be a wardrobe staple that never dates but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep it fresh. Take a look at our guide to denim washes and finishes below to find out how to renew your wardrobe this season.

1. Raw Denim

Unwashed and sometimes referred to as dry denim, raw denim can be identified by its dark blue colour and stiff handle. As the name suggests, this is denim fabric in its unwashed, unfinished state received straight from the mill.

2. Acid Wash

Made popular in the lates 80s, acid wash is also referred to as Marble/ Moon or Snow wash. With sharp contrasts in tonal colour, acid wash denim is achieved by soaking pumice stones in chlorine and adding them to the wash process.

3. Rinse Wash

The most basic wash for a denim garment, the purpose is to make the garment wearable. Residual dye is removed from the jean to help stop the colour running. The wash makes the denim feel softer but it still maintains a clean appearance.

4. Mid Wash

A popular choice for most jeans, mid-wash denim has undergone a longer washing process than rinse jean to remove more indigo dye colour. This helps create the mid blue colour level. The wash also ensures the jeans have a softer handle compared to the raw denim.

5. Light Wash

A light wash jean is light blue in colour. The jean has been through a longer washing process than mid wash jeans. The result is a lighter blue shade of denim jean.

6. Bleach Wash

This process makes the denim heavily faded. Bleach wash jeans are easily identifiable as they are light and washed out. Washing with bleach is one way to achieve this finish. It can also be applied locally through spray or hand rubbing on desired area. This process is very complicated and requires highly skilled operators.

7. Black/Grey

Black and grey denim undertakes a similar dying process to traditional blue denim but uses different dye colours.

8. All-over Tinting

This is when different dyes have been added to the denim during the washing process. It follows that different colour dyes create different colour finishes. Commonly used are Brown and Green tints to give a browned off or green finish.

9. Coated Denim

PU (Polyurethane) coating is applied on the fabric in the mill after weaving. It will not deteriorate during laundering and so this type of coating will last the for the line life of the garment.

10. Vintage Finishing

Often called a vintage, the washing and finishing process create this ‘worn in’ look. Colour levels can be changed and tints added to give different colour levels. In addition, PP Spray (a kind of bleach), hand scraping, whiskering and grinding are also used to finish.

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Denim in all its iterations has become a fashion centre piece all over the world. This chameleon of fashion has taken on so many forms, it’s like wearing David Bowie (how awesome would that be?). So to make things easier, check out our definitive guide on denim colours and washes.

Check out the latest Men’s Style Guide features.

1871. The first ever pair of blue jeans are invented by Jacob W Davis. History is made. Since then, nothing has beaten denim. This titan of textiles has become staple to any and every man’s wardrobe. It has touched every corner of the planet and has graced almost every bedroom floor. So, here’s our take on what’s what with colour and wash.

Photo Credit: Idle

Colours and Washes

Have you ever noticed that when you’re looking for a new pair of jeans, it’s all about the fit? Slim, skinny, super skinny, spray-on (seriously?), boot-cut, flare, bell-bottom, high-waist, low-waist, practically-no-waist…the list is endless. Yet, colour and wash play a surprisingly secondary role in choosing the right pair.

Whether it’s vintage, statement, distressed or raw, denim is the most personal thing you can wear. It changes with time no matter it’s shape or size, so it’s important to get the right style to compliment your style.

Rinse Wash

Rinse Wash is, quite literally, straight-talking denim. It’s one of the most basic of denim washes and helps to make the fabric wearable by removing residual dye to stop the colour from running. It also makes it a little softer, which is only ever a good thing (in clothing). Rinse wash denim most often comes in dark blues, making it versatile and easy to style with just about anything.

Photo Credit: Idle

Mid Wash

Mid Wash is one of the most common washes on most jeans. It’s effectively the same as the rinse wash, but more of the original indigo dye has been removed, leaving the fabric a lighter, mid-level blue. This means it’s also really versatile and great for all kinds of looks. Whether it’s a shirt, jacket or jeans, it’s easily paired and styled with just about anything.

Light Wash and White Denim

Have you noticed the pattern yet? That’s right, this is also similar to the rinse and mid washes, having gone through the same process but for even longer and an even lighter colour.

Compared to darker colours, light wash denim is bolder, braver – a statement, if you will, especially if we’re talking about white denim. But white denim doesn’t have to be as controversial or flamboyant as many of us paint it to be – white denim jackets and shirts can be more subtle than jeans and a great way of making a statement. Plus, it’s really easy to style.

Photo Credit: Idle Man

Or, if you’re more of a “go hard or go home” kinda guy, white jeans will always work for a smart look – try putting them with a navy blazer and crew-neck t-shirt.

Acid Wash

Also called Marble/Moon or Snow Wash, acid wash denim has had a close encounter with some chlorine and pumice stones, creating the sharp, contrasting colours this style is famous for.

This style of men’s denim is most commonly found in jeans. Shades of blue give you that strong, white noise effect, whilst grey lends itself to more subtle styles. Well-suited to casual looks, this denim is for the rebels, rockers and n’er-do-wells. Try it with a basic t-shirt and bomber jacket.

Photo Credit: Idle Man

Black and Grey Wash

It’s no secret that black denim is fantastic. It’s a steadfast companion for those who dare to double-denim. It’s also a way of giving yourself a blank canvas to build your look on. Being so versatile, black denim can be casual, smart, dress up, dress down – anything you want it to be.

Photo Credit: The Idle Man

Meanwhile, grey denim is the dark horse (ironic, given that we just talked about black denim) and adds that certain “je ne sais quoi” to your personal style. Try styling with classic trainers, a basic t-shirt and hoodie-jacket combo. Or, if you’re going for a slightly smarter look, try it with a shirt-knitted jumper combo, Chelsea boots and a longline jacket or coat. Either way, you’ll be nailing it.

Distressed Denim

Distressed denim is an umbrella term for a wide range of styles and washes. It refers to any denim which has been treated or marked (some call it tampering, others call it refining). From using sandpaper to wear away the fabric to creating permanent creases for the illusion of structure, it stretching across the majority of colours and shades. Distressed denim gives an understated, vintage look to your style and creates a classic tone to any ensemble.

Worn by miners, cowboys, farmers, prisoners, sailors, actors, hippies, hipsters, presidents, James Dean, Marlon Brando and even Justin and Britney, denim has long been a symbol of many things to many people. We could talk about it until the cows come home and still not give it enough credit.

And On That Note

Whether you’re wearing a jacket, a shirt, a pair of jeans or some mega-hipster denim brogues (yes, they are a thing and no, we don’t sell them), this timeless and versatile fabric can reflect who you are and what your life is about.

Not only does it age and re-shape uniquely to you, but it goes where you go, sees what you see and gets the same marks and scars you get. The more you wear it, the more of your attitude and soul it absorbs, so make sure you know your denim and wear it with pride.

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