Take 1: Unsanforized Denim

5 months ago I started working at Tate + Yoko and discovered Okayama Spirit while exploring the Naked & Famous Denim warehouse. I fell in love with the dry and nubby texture and tried them on. They fit me like a glove in a Weird Guy size 27. I brought them home, cut the hem long enough for an extra wide cuff and wore them to the office the next day. I decided not to soak the jeans. This is the first time I purchased a pair of unsanforized denim.



If you ever researched into the world of Unsanforized denim I'm sure your search engine has lead you to Reddit. Here is a recap of the information I came across:

 “You have to soak unsanforized denim to settle the seams”
“Make sure you size up 1 size. The denim will shrink at 1 size after washing.”
“Soak time and temperature of water depends on how much you want your denim to shrink”
“If you decide not to wash them, make sure you never get caught in the rain because this will result in some very weird looking denim”
“Wear your jeans while soaking them for the most custom fit”
"Get out of the tub in the wet jeans and wear them until they're dry for the most custom fit"
“Do not wear the jeans while soaking because it may lead to over stretching in areas on stress”
“If you decide not to wash them initially, you should never wash them”
“There are many types of unsanforized denim and they will all shrink differently”
“The denim will stretch approximately 1 inch after 30 days of wear”
“Inseam will shrink 1 inch after soaking and will not stretch back”
“Once you go unsanforized you never go back”

All of these different suggestions are confusing. I work with a team of crazy denim fanatics who have helped me, a first time unsanforized denim owner, sift through the wish-washy information. Good to know- Bahzad, Naked & Famous Denim Sales Manager, is very active on Reddit and keeps the conversation in check. Bahzad says "there is a lot of misinformation out there, unfortunately a lot of it still repeated.". 

Unsanforized denim, also known as "shrink to fit", "loomstate" or "kibata" is denim that has bypassed the typical finishing process of Sanforization.



So how do you know what is true and what isn't? I made one big mistake for you (not soaking my unsan's) and here are my conclusions.


 I've been wearing the Okayama Spirit's for 3 months.

I'm already starting to see noticeable fade patterns because this 16 oz super rigid denim creates lots of friction and the indigo easily rubs off the surface. However, because I went true to size I can’t wash or soak them, if I do they will become too small to wear. I want to keep the jeans fresh, so I have to be careful about where I wear them. They are a niche pair of denim hanging on my rack worn to spill free occasions like the office and low key brunch at Arthur's Nosh Bar.

This is not an inconvenience for me because I have a handful of jeans in rotation so I'm never stuck pant-less. However, if you're looking for a pair of jeans that you want to beat up and wear hard.. I definitely would not advise you to purchase unsanforized denim that you can not soak in a bath with a splash of dark detergent for a refresh. Size up and soak them so they will shrink to fit. I do think it would be much easier to get away with picking up a perfect fit unsanforized denim jacket and never washing it- but that's just a personal opinion. If you love the feel of unsanforized denim but you're not ready for the hassle, Tempi Treated jeans are a great alternative. It is an unsanforized jean that has gone through a soak treatment that is designed to preshrink the fabric and preserve the natural rigidness and beauty of the fabric. Ready to wear from day one and you don't need to worry about shrinkage.

If you recently purchased a pair or want to and have any questions, please send them in the comments section below! 


While I was writing this was playing (loudly) in the shop:

Maggie Rogers - On + Off
Honne - FHKD
Blood on me - Sampha
Berry Juice & Josh Tobias - Need Your Body
Kendrick Lamar - Humble


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First off they’re a great fit but you can soak those provided you do it gradually. Start with a 30 minute cold soak, wear damp so they don’t overshrink then wear as normal for a month so they stretch back out, repeat but with a warm soak and wear again for a month then repeat with a hot soak – they will tighten up as they dry but if you wear them whilst damp you’ll only get shrinkage in leg length.

Or just wear unsoaked and blot or fabreze them if they get dirty, you don’t need to baby them.


Gotta admit: unsanforized denim can be scary. But I’ll tell ya, I’ve got two pairs, one a 13.5 oz. Cone and the other is Oni’s secret denim. I bought both so they fit in the waist before soaking, even perhaps sized down a little on the Oni, and have got both wet; I actually wash the cone pretty mercilessly in the wash. But never fear! They stretch out with time.


Hey Damian,I don’t get to wear these Okayama’s as often as I’d like because I can’t soak them and we should be able to wear our jeans whenever, wherever. Next time I bring a pair of unsanforized denim home, you bet I’ll be sizing up.

The Denim Hound d

You can definitely soak them! Just wear them into a luke warm bath and wear them while they dry. The waist and top block will be snug during this process but will streatch (sometimes past original measurements) be perfect by the time it drys. I do this quite often with unsanforized Oni and PBJ. Hope this helps! ~ The Denim Hound


Jeans look awesome on you but deciding not to soak unsanforized denim, while a personal choice, just seems totally nonsensical. If you eventually decide to soak or wash them, the fade lines will be off, and if you decide to never wash them, well, that’s pretty gross imo. Also, washing helps with the fading process. As they say though, to each her own.


Alex, happy you liked the playlist. Alaska is a great song too. I’m seeing Maggie Rogers perform tonight in Montreal.- Very excited!


Hi Lynn, Thanks for the feedback :) I’d love to help you pick out a pair. You can shoot an email to cierra@tateandyoko.com with any fit questions. Better yet, if you’re in the Montreal area I’m in the shop every week Tuesday – Saturday.


dig the playlist, check out ‘alaska’ by maggie rogers if you haven’t already!


P.S. Thanks for the mini playlist. <3


Omg! You bring back such fond memories of denim shopping (and care) back in the 70’s! Looking forward to picking up my first pair of jeans from tateandyoko. Just have to figure out what style and size works best for me. :)

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