Canadian college student Josh Le has redefined distressed denim by turning his own pair of jeans into a science experiment, wearing them for 15 months without washing them.
“You break it in and it becomes a second skin,” Le said. “There’s no other pair like it in the world. You wear it like a canvas and paint it with your life.”
As Le headed back for his second year of study at the University of Alberta in September 2009, he bought a new pair of jeans for the new school year. Le paid $165 for a pair of Nudie Jeans. He chose a completely untreated pair of denim called raw denim.
Le certainly got his money worth. He wore the jeans 330 times without washing them between September of 2009 and December of 2010, he said.
While sitting in an introductory to textiles class, he got the idea to turn his denim into an experiment.
My professor mentioned that she researches on textiles and bacteria, so it piqued my curiosity there,” Le said. “I half jokingly said we should do a bacterial analysis on them [Le’s jeans] and that’s where it sort of started.”
The dark denim jeans lightened, creases sprouted, holes popped out in the thighs of the jeans, below the pockets. The jeans had an adventure of their own, dealing with the freezing temperatures of Edmonton, Canada, to the heat of California and Mexico when Le traveled there.
“Wearing a pair of jeans every day, for one thing, it takes away the stress of what to wear in the morning, sometimes I even slept in them to help accelerate the fading process,” Le said.
Le documented the evolution of his jeans on Facebook and in a YouTube video.
“One time I was eating grapefruit, I’d finished the meaty part and was drinking juice and spilled it on my jeans, my heart stopped for a second,” Le said.
He got the stain out and said it didn’t leave an odor. Still, Le knew that his choice to wear the same pair of jeans day in and day out might raise eyebrows