It’s been about a year since I last wrote about my pair of Evisu No. 1 Lot 2000 raw selvedge jeans that I bought from the original Evisu store in Umeda, Osaka. With another 600 hours of wear, I can still say that they are somewhat difficult to break down; however, things have progressed nicely since my last report, and I am optimistic that the final outcome will be good!
And I should clarify – when I quote 600 hours of wear, I am referring to logged work time at my laboring job. The amount of time might not seem like much (now a lifetime total of 1200 hours), but I spend more than 95% of that time in motion, doing various physical activities. Unfortunately, these activities don’t seem very proficient at producing the distressed patterns that I had hoped to achieve. Maybe I should try farming or construction instead (yea, right!).
Inspecting the front of the pants, there’s obviously more visible wear than the last time I checked. Areas around the pockets and button up fly have begun to rub down nicely, with further distressing continuing down the thighs. Around each knee, there are two circular areas that have been rubbed down, but they are now merging into one. This was caused by wearing the jeans for a while before they were shrunk. I’ll speak more of this in a bit.
At the bottom of each leg there’s a few contrast lines emerging. As these jeans have not been hemmed, they tend to bunch up around the ankles to create these nice artifacts.
Turning the denim over, things are not going quite so well. Although the right rear pocket with the hand painted Evisu logo shows a fair amount of wear – due to a tool being worn on that side – the rest of the rear remains virtually untouched! Only the bottom of each pant leg show visible signs of wear. This is also a spot where a small hole has developed. I’ll probably stitch it up before it gets out of hand.
Size and Shrinkage
Regarding the shrinking of these jeans, when I first brought them home over two years ago, I figured the last thing I should do was to wash them. Owners of raw unsanfortized denim want to rub off the indigo dye through natural wear, not uniformly lighten the color through machine washes. So I took them to work and wore them in their native gargantuan size for several months.
After a while, I realized that wearing the jeans in their unshrunken state wasn’t producing much wear – there just wasn’t enough friction between the body and the denim to get the process started. The exception was the area around the knees, which is why there are now distressed spots slightly above the knee caps (these areas have seemingly been raised now that the jeans have been shorted by the shrink). If I could go back and do it again, I would have definitely shrunk them right away and avoided the wait.
I’ve only washed the jeans a couple times in the last 2 years, and if they didn’t get so dirty at work, I’d probably wash them even less. However, washing them present a good opportunity to assess how much wear has taken place – something that’s difficult to see through all the dirt and grime that accumulates on the surface. Washing also invokes a bit of shrinkage, and although much of this has been permanently cut down by the initial shrink, there’s still about an inch or so of leeway around the waist.
Because of the initial shrinkage and the continual fluctuations in size, I think that if I had bought these jeans without a professional in-store fitter, I would of bought a size too small, and would now be resorting to sadistic fabric stretching to make them fit. This is why it bothers me to mail order raw denim. Recently though, I have begun to see fitting guides for raw selvedge available from online stores. It’s about time!
So that’s my annual raw selvedge update rant. If you can still find Special No. 1 Lot 2000 Evisu jeans, and if you can actually afford them in this economy (they cost over $300 in Japan), I hope you’re either a patient person, or your job involves rolling around on pumice rocks all day. These bad boys are definitely a work in process – and probably will be for life – but this is what buying raw denim is all about!