A Series Of Personal And Evolutionary Denim Fades

It’s no secret that there is no silver bullet when it comes to achieving natural, surreal raw denim fades. It’s a complex process that largely depends on the denim model and make – including fit, fabric, weight, and dye – and the owner’s lifestyle and living environment. Of course how often one wears and washes their denim is incredibly influential as well.

In other words, while many wonder how to get picturesque raw denim fades, it’s really a “personal denim evolution” that is unique to each person.

On another level though, it’s not often that we are able to compare several pairs worn by the same person over a long time. As we are fortunate to hold an immense archive of denim at the Jeans Museum, let’s have a closer look to this lesser known topic, which I like to call, “A Series Of Personal And Evolutionary Denim Fades“.

Strike Gold 1103 23 oz, Nudie Regular Ralf, Denime 247 Contest take 5

  • Denim: Strike Gold 1103 23 oz, Nudie Regular Ralf, Denime 247 Contest take 5
  • Length of Wear: Worn daily (at different points) since August 2011
  • Number of Washes: None

All three three pants were worn oversized causing profound vertical fading lines on the back sides and large honeycombs. Daily bike rides was another influential factor in developing their character.

Lee Jeans Jacket

Lee Jeans Jacket

  • Denim: Lee Storm-Rider 101-LJ (1960) and a Lee 101-J Repro (1990)
  • Length of Wear: Six years each
  • Number of Washes: None

These Lee jackets have faded almost identically by looking closely at the patterns, collars, and frayed cuffs. Specifically, the trashed cuffs are a direct result of wearing too many layers underneath – sometimes even a second denim jacket during the winter -leading to high abrasion.

Lee Jeans

Worn by a carpenter from 2005 – 2009, these Lee jeans have clear and consistent wear patterns on the right pocket from carrying around various tools.

Levi's 502 Shrink-To-Fit

Levi's 502 Shrink-To-Fit

  • Denim: Levis 501 shrink-to-fit
  • Length of Wear: Unknown; over twenty years ago.
  • Number of Washes: One

These four pairs of Levis were worn very hard way by an American cowboy twenty years ago. As a result of tucking his jeans into his cowboy boots and carrying a small tool, strong (stack) fades are apparent around the front of the shin and in the front right pocket. However, due to daily horse riding, the heaviest wear and damage are definitely around the honeycomb area.

  • Denim: NudieEdwin (exact models unknown)
  • Length of Wear: Two years
  • Number of Washes: One

Denim head, Michael, from Zurich transfered his love for skateboarding into all of his raw denim projects; giving them a rough, yet clearly defined, look on their back sides.

Levi's Shrink-To-Fit

Levi's Shrink-To-Fit

Even when comparing as many as four pairs of denim worn by the same personal, it’s amazing to notice some of the shared characteristics. In the above Levi’s 501 Shrink-To-Fit models worn by a tradesman over fifteen years ago, notice the consistent blow outs just above the right bac (likely from carrying an object).

Thus, wearing denim and creating is an evolutionary process that is completely specific to you. The next time you move from one pair of denim to the next, take a step back and observe the similarities between each model. You might be surprised what you find and, without knowing, have your very own fading series.


Ruedi began collecting raw denim in 1973 and formally opened the Jeansmuseum in Zurich in 2002 to hold his entire collection. When he's not fixated on raw denim, he works as a geographer and is passionate about nature, mountains, jogging, and skiing.

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  • Paul

    Nice post Ruedi! Lovely pics..

  • poscogrubb

    This is an excellent post!

  • none

    never posted any comments yet,.. but this is due.

    AWESOME article/post and pictures!

  • mister56

    Excellent Article.

  • Damian

    Fantastic article. I want to see more!

  • http://www.facebook.com/i.Kevin.Mok Kevin Mok

    This was an awesome article idea.

  • http://worn75.blogspot.com/ John King

    That first photo is incredible!
    Nice article.

  • dutch501xx

    Each jeans looks excellent and unique. Are they all stored in your Jeans Museum, Ruedi? If so, what a pity that they are not worn anymore by the owners to show them to the outside world!!

    • Ruedi Karrer

      Yeah, all those jeans and denim jackets are a part of the Jeans Museum with now over 12’000 items so far collected over the last 38 years. And yes I really would love to see them back on the street again as well. I never wanna give up any of my jeans and denim jackets and luckily I can still fit in my old stuff worn 25 years ago

    • Ruedi Karrer

      Yeah, they are all a part of the Jeans Museum with over 12’000 items collected over the last 38 years. It’s a safe home for all your beloved retired raw denim projects. I could never throw away any raw denim rags. This would break my heart. And I wear them the hard way like hell. Luckily I still fit in my old stuff worn 25 years ago. And yes I would love to have all those beauties back on the street again!!!

  • Ruedi Karrer

    Thanks a lot for all yout great comments. Raw denim is just flowing tzhrough my body and I wanna keep alive all my raw denim rags alive for ever. They deserve it

  • Ruedi Karrer

    Thanks a lot for your comments. Raw denim is flowing through my body instead of blood and I’ll keep all my raw denim rags alive for ever. They deserve it.

  • Hassaan

    Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  • barbosa473

    Amazing post!

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