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Myth: Raw = Unsanforized

Posted: Jun 28 2017

This needs to stop. We are always explaining to our clients who may be new to our little Selvedge denim world about the differences between these terms.

This seems to be the biggest misconception: That Raw denim and Unsanforized denim are interchangeable words. It is no ones fault, and it is likely that is has never been laid out clearly enough to comprehend with ease.

There is Sanforized Raw denim. In fact, much of the Raw Selvedge denim world leans toward using Sanforized denim in the production of their denim. Why, you may ask? The answer is simple - shrinkage is maximized to eliminate the calculating and guessing process that often comes with buying Unsanforized denim. So a Sanforized pair of Raw denim means that they have been treated post-production to ensure the fabric will barely shrink any further, but they are still Raw, and will still shrink several more percent with a soak (generally about 3% as a rule of thumb).

Unsanforized denim on the other hand, can also be referred to as loom state or キバタ(Kibata, the Japanese term for Unsanforized). This denim does not receive any treatment post-production and is sent directly for cutting and sewing into jeans, as loom state fabric. Jeans cut and sewn from Unsanforized denim tends to shrink a ton and will stretch back out as well with wear. Although there is significant variance in the shrink/stretch depending on the brand and fabric you select, there is a general rule of thumb of 10% loss once a pair has been soaked, prior to the first wear.

A pair of brand new XX-013's sit next to a well worn pair of the same.

For example, Pure Blue Japan's best-selling XX-013 fabric will see about 2" of shrinkage is the waist and inseam, and about 1" in the rises, thighs, knee. With wear though, these measurements will expand, and the final result (after soaking and stretching) will be .5" of permanent loss in the rises, thighs, knee and leg opening. The waist typically stretches back to the original Raw measurements with extended wear. 

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