Photos: Zack Vincler
Last April marked the completion of a yearlong contest we held in conjunction with Reddit’s r/RawDenim community. For those who are unaware of r/RawDenim, it’s a message board where denim enthusiasts gather specifically to discuss jeans. It began as a young community (both in terms of age and knowledge level) and has grown significantly over the past few years. We’ve been posting on r/RawDenim since its early days and decided to support the community by co-sponsoring a contest with Self Edge. Entrants were required to wear in one of our 120x shadow selvedge jeans for a year with the chance to earn one of three prize packages. Over 50 contestants signed up, purchased new jeans and posted updates consistently throughout the entire year. At its completion, we - along with a panel of forum moderators and Kiya Babzani of Self Edge - chose the contest winners from all the final submissions. We’ve photographed the winning jeans and have reached out to their owners for some thoughts on the experience.
Name: Michael Soo (/u/soonami)
Profession: Biochemistry PhD Student
Number of washes: 1 wash at 1 year. No soaks.
"I am lucky to be able to wear jeans every to work. I also live within walking distance from the lab I work at so between walking/biking to work and my activity there, I'm able to put a lot of wear on my jeans. I also usually only wear one pair at a time, so I often remember experiences based on the jeans I was wearing at the time. While wearing these 3sixteens: I went on vacation in Maui and hiked up Mt Haleakala in them. I brewed my recipe for a beer at Dogfish Head. I proposed to my wife at Christmas. I wore these while brewing the beers for our wedding, to visit the wedding venues, and even while biking on the way to get fitted for my wedding suit. For me, it's just neat to have so many built-in memories in a piece of clothing. These jeans are pretty, but they also tell a story and whenever I see them it's nice to think about where I was when I wore them. I was pretty reluctant to give them up because they held so much sentimental value.
Besides all the happy memories, I unfortunately got in a bike accident and herniated two lumbar discs during this contest. I was in a lot of pain and before my surgery, I couldn't bend over to pull my jeans on because of the excruciating pain. I needed my wife to help me get dressed. After the surgery, I knew I was finally better when I could put on the pants by myself.
There weren't many examples of well-worn 120x jeans online at the start of the competition, so I went into the contest almost blind. I'd also never had a pair of dyed weft jeans before, so I was really curious how the fades would look over time. I was so happy to find out how much I loved these jeans. The contrast between light and dark is amazing, the faded parts have this rich electric blue color. There's so much depth to the fade and it seems every color of blue on the spectrum is represented. It had also been a while since I wore jeans with stacks but the tapering made them look neat and pretty without being sloppy."
Name: Tom "/u/kingsofbabylon" Glennon
Age: Thirty sexy, sexy years
Number of washes: Six hand and one machine I think?
"I've found that a surefire way to break a pair of jeans in is to attend an Andrew WK show in the first couple weeks of wear. Worked for the 120x, and the timing let me do it again with my current pair. It'll also get the last bit of shrink out of an unsanforized pair. That's a lil' protip for free, everybody. Go see live music, jump around, get a bit of beer spilled on you. You're gonna look great. In the long term. Not right then.
This was the first pair of jeans I subjected to rock climbing on a consistent basis. This means, in my case, that following a wash they would spend at most two days looking fresh before winding up caked in chalk. Early on it was obvious but after a few months it blended in with the fade. Stealth grime. Climbing is also super rough on the knees and around the top of the inseam. You'll find out exactly how much give the thighs can offer you in a hurry. These held up admirably throughout!
There were a few things about the 120x fabric that really grabbed me over time. One, for how uniform their texture is they wind up with a lot of variation in areas of widespread fading, like the thighs. It takes on a soft, fuzzy gradient of colors in those spots from white to sky blue all the way through to the very deep dark blue they have when they’re new. Two, in the places where I did wind up tearing holes, the black weft’s interruption of what were otherwise completely faded-to-white areas were neat little punctuation marks. Three, the patch! I always like seeing how patches change in appearance over time. By the end of the contest it had picked up lots of little dings and scrapes even hidden under my belt. The burgundy color of 120x patches is unusual so getting to see how it came out of the process was a fun contrast to the usual natural leathers.”
Name: Tim (/u/kcrunner)
Profession: Professional Jazz Pianist and College Music Professor
Number of washes: 2
"The contest required us to share our unique experiences with the denim every two months; this pushed me to venture out to new places around town. It also encouraged me to be more active in my denim; I started riding my bike more often and also made it a priority to walk my dog daily. My favorite experience with my jeans last year was performing at a music festival in Germany. I spent a week in Germany and Austria eating, hiking, and trying about every type of coffee and beer made available to me. I feel so fortunate to have documented all these experiences for the contest.
I've always been a one pair rotation kind of guy. I generally wear my pairs for year before looking at buying something else. They're the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I take off at night. I'm fairly certain I wore this pair every single day of the contest except for the week they were out for darning. I even got semi-banned from playing at a certain venue for wearing my raw denim to a gig.
Via my Instagram account (@kc_runner), I started a hashtag challenge #30daysofraw early in the contest. I challenged other Instagram enthusists to post 30 consecutive days of outfits that incorporated raw denim; the hashtag later morphed in to #365daysofraw. Many of the Reddit contestants participated and there are now about 4,600 archived posts from last year. I just started #366daysofraw (leap year) and everyone reading this is welcome to join!”