Most Common Finishes for Jeans

  • Enzyme Wash: Creates an antiqued look by taking advantage of the catalytic ability of enzyme cellulase. The enzyme catalyses the hydrolysis of the cellulose fibre and so leads to the breakdown of fibers on the surface of the fabric and the subsequent loss of the indigo dye they have encapsulated. Since this process is not abrasion based, it does not damage the fibres the way that a stonewash does and creates a great vintage jeans look. It does, however, require the use of special softeners and smoothing agents. This should theoretically give the jeans a longer life.
  • Fraying: Fraying is the actual directed destruction of denim fibers in a selected area. Natural looking wear of the fabric can be simulated on tops of waistbands, pockets or hem of the jeans.
  • Garment Dyed: The garment is dyed after it sewn to achieve an intense saturation of color
  • Hand Sanding: A way of reproducing wear patterns, such as whiskers, chevrons, or other damage marks in localized areas, simulating long term wear
  • Rinse: Garments are washed with softener to soften the fabric and this process can be done with clear softener where it only achieves a softer touch. A black softener can also be used to achieve a softer touch and to darken the denim. This is one of my favorite approaches to vintage jeans.
  • Sandblast: Jeans are sprayed with sand by hand before washing to create a used and old look in specific areas of the garmentSun bleached: A combination of sandblasting and bleach which gives the denim a very soft powdery feel.
  • Stone-wash: The garment is washed with pumice stones. The stones break some of the fibers and release the indigo dye. giving the fabric a lighter, weathered look and soft feel . There are different levels of destruction for this wash: light, medium and heavy. Different size stones give different effects. Bleach can also be added during this process to lighten the color and further age the garment. The process is fundamentally an abrasion technique.
  • Tint: A little tint (color) is added to the garment to change cast, hue, and color appearance. This achieves different tonalities and shades, changing the fabric color. This finish was made very popular by Diesel Jeans some years back when they used it to achieve a “dirty” look. A brown dye was used to achieve this look.
  • Torn Jeans: A manufactured tear, made to appear natural.
  • Whiskering: Pigment is removed in areas where natural wear would occur due to creases, as in the crotch area. In my opinion, very difficult to pull off and usually looks phony.

A lot of what today we refer to as “vintage jeans” has started to develop a meaning beyond the old, used jeans look. Some combinations of finishes can take on some truly edgy, fashion forward characteristics. Treatment on top of treatment can create results that are totally novel, impossible to achieve through regular wear.

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