Three Ways To Retire Your Worn Raw Denim

Retiring Denim - Showing Off Your Worn Jeans

It is a sad day that every denim enthusiast must grapple with – the day that a beloved pair of jeans, perfectly worn from hard and raw to soft and broken-in, must be retired. There comes a point, maybe after multiple crotch or knee blowouts or other unsightly damage, that what were once jeans look more like rags and must stop being worn.

Luckily, when this time comes, there are a few options that can preserve the memory of your jeans through either repurposing or displaying the pair. With that in mind, we would like to share some ideas on what we think can be done with retired raw denim.

1. Repurposing

Nudie's Retired Denim Rug

Nudie’s Retired Denim Rug

Denim is a very versatile fabric, and as a result your worn-out raw denim can be repurposed in a variety of ways, assuming of course that you can muster up the courage to dissect your perfectly worn pair of jeans. Segments of your jeans can be used in many different projects, from rugs and tote bags to iPhone cases and as spare material for patching up your next pair of raw jeans once they begin to give out.

With a little imagination and courage you can convert your raw jeans into an equally usable piece that will remind you of the time you spent living in your beloved pair. There are many sources around the internet that detail projects which can be done with old, worn denim, to give it a new lease on life.

2. Donation

Bonded Logic Ultratouch Denim Insulation

Bonded Logic Ultratouch Denim Insulation

Though it may be difficult to part with your well-worn jeans by simply donating them, it is a viable and appreciable option for those that are no longer passable for daily use. Assuming they’re still somewhat in-tact, you could donate them to a Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or a similar charitable organization where they will be moved along and given a new life and new wearer.

Alternatively, they could be donated to the famous Jeans Museum or a company like Bonded Logic, who takes worn out jeans and turns them into an environmentally friendly insulation; preventing jeans from finding their way into landfills.

There are a variety of outlets for those aiming to donate their jeans to a better cause and continue their life. Regardless of the final use, there is sure to be a cause that you will feel is worthy of your denim, as well the time and money that you put into it.

3. Display

Denim Displayed via Self Edge San Francisco

Denim on display at Self Edge San Francisco

If you’re really proud of the years of effort that went into your denim fades and can’t bear to part with them, displaying them is an ideal alternative. Framing the jeans in a display case similar to those used for sports memorabilia, like jerseys, is a solid and simple choice, not unlike how Self Edge has showcased some of their best faded raw denim (see photos above).

Once you have worn your jeans to the point of no repair, there is sure to be an appropriate retiring denim option, from repurposing to donating to displaying. Are there other ways that you’ve put your denim to use? Let us know in the comments below.

Darius Lalier

Darius is currently a student living in New York City, attending New York University. Darius has a strong interest in all things raw denim and a specific interest in American manufacturing. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @dlalier.

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  • Jun

    I turn them into a door mat or something to wipe my feet with.

  • Daniel

    Hey, i was thinking of getting 20oz oni denim, anyone has any thoughts, how is the fit, im a guy with a really small waist and medium long legs, i like more slim skinny fits. any help?

  • Kyle

    You could probably find some creative uses for used denim if you cut it up and used the pieces for something. If you had sewing talent, you could probably make a nice pencil case, book cover, iPhone or iPad sleeve (complete with back pocket!) or similar things. I know that there are companies that offer stuff like this with new denim, but a well-faded fabric is much cooler. Turning it into a cloth for dusting, cleaning, etc. would be easy, and I bet patches of raw denim would make for good coasters.

    In fact, if you made a bunch of coasters out of your old beat-up pair of jeans, those would work well as small, unique gifts. A mousepad would also be an easy project.

    My personal philosophy though, is to not wear jeans until they’re blown to smithereens. I think it’s best to concentrate on one pair until it’s really nicely broken in (maybe around a year or so of wear time) and then retire them from daily use, wearing the jeans only a few times per month at most. This way, you still enjoy wearing a nicely-faded pair of jeans, but get many more years of wear out of them.

  • Jeawhiz Xu

    You could give them away or sell them. Some denim aficionados love genuinely worn out, blown out jeans! like me 😉

  • luffnik

    Any idea where who maked display cases suitable for jeans?

  • swissjeansfreak

    I just wear my raw denim stuff as long as possible and never ever washed in 3 steps: office-outdoor-work pants before retiring the completely burned down leftovers to the Jeansmuseum. That way I can use one pair of jeans for at least 2-3 years