A semitrailer in Japan with a huge Iron Heart billboard strapped to it. Denim advertising done in true Iron Heart fashion.


Understanding Denim Part 2: Buying Tips

Many of you are still probably hesitant to drop a few hundred on a pair of pants. Remember, there is a large selection of raw denim to choose from and there will most likely be a pair in a price range that is comfortable for you. In general though, with the artisan brands price will closely correlate with quality. Here are a few beginner tips for buying:

Use Size Guides
This is the most important step when buying a pair you are not able to try on first. You will find a lot of brands use different methods of sizing – most of what you find in the retail market will be vanity sized meaning the tagged size is actually smaller than the actual size. While most artisan brands use true measurements – there are other factors influencing the way the jeans will fit.

You will find a dizzying amount of information on forums such as Styleforum and Superfuture on how to size your pair, or even just drop the retailer an email and they should be more than happy to help. Make use of the measurement guides and if you are able to, compare them to a similar pair you already own so you know what to expect. It is highly advisable you do your research and get your measurements right before buying. It sounds like common sense but it is amazing how many people ignore the information given to them and size wrongly.

Also remember that as retailers we can only give you general sizing recommendations based on the information you give us – we try to offer the best advice but where possible you guys have to put it in your own hands to compare measurements.

Sanforized and Unsanforized Denim
This is extremely important to know about your denim. Most denim will be sanforized by default unless otherwise stated.

Denim shrinks. A lot. The sanforization process basically removes MOST shrinkage so you need to watch out for this. Sanforized denim will still shrink slightly after a trip in the washing machine but should stretch back out after a few washes.

You will find that unsanforized denim will shrink a great deal – the general rule is to try a size down before you buy as that is generally what the denim will shrink to. It is very important to read the manufacturer or retailer’s instructions on how to size unsanforized denim because what you see is not what you get.

Pre-wear Soak

The first thing you should do after buying a pair of unsanforized denim should be to always always ALWAYS soak before wearing. This will hopefully get rid of most if not all of the shrinkage before you start wearing them in. Also keep this in mind before you alter your pair of jeans!


Sanforized or not, hot water will bring about the most shrinkage. It is advised to do a hot pre-wear soak and an air dry to get rid of most shrinkage – some people will even do 2. This is just the general rule and may not apply to every pair of jeans out there. Often when dealing with premium Japanese denim a pre-wear soak is done even on sanforized denim just to get rid of the excess starch to soften up and prolong the life of the denim.

Bleeding Indigo
Raw jeans will bleed indigo – you will find that even washed jeans will bleed a small amount onto your shoes, however un-washed jeans will generally bleed a LOT more. We have heard many stories about indigo stains to light coloured surfaces that your jeans frequently rub across – shoes, shirts, bags, underwear even furniture! Furniture is probably what you guys need to worry about the most – avoid sitting on light coloured fabrics, particularly expensive furniture such as car seats and leather couches.

This is a very brief guide for beginners – I know I was asking these kinds of questions when I bought my first pair.


Jeans, Faded Blue Planet


Just a neat trailer for denim documentary called “Faded Blue Planet”. It’s a really good introductory primer for anyone wanting to learn more about the rich history and culture of the iconic blue jean. This is basically what Inseam is all about!