Fade Friday – Levi’s 501 STF (13 months, 4 soaks, 4 washes)

There are many roads that lead to great fades, and the Levi’s 501 Shrink to Fits from Rawr Denim forum user StormAK are living proof. These are Storm’s first pair of raw denim, but you’d never doubt his commitment by wearing them 385 days straight to achieve some of the best 501 STF fades we’ve had the privilege to feature on Fade Friday.

Storm also forewent conventional raw wisdom: he refused to soak his unsanforized jeans until he reached a personal goal of 1000 hours of wear and the before pictures practically scream size down. The final product, however, will tell you that he did everything just right.

Scroll below to see all the steps of this raw denim evolution and see the whole fade thread here.


  • Name: Levi’s 501 Shrink to Fit
  • Fabric: 100% Cotton unsanforized indigo denim
  • Weight: 12.5oz
  • Fit: Straight
  • Other details:
    • Classic Levi’s red tab
    • Back pocket arctuates
  • MSRP:  $64 at Levi’s


501 before photo

After 3 Months

501 on day 96 unsoaked

501 day 96 crotch shot

501 day 96 belt loop

4 Months Presoak

501 day 119 pre soak

4 Months Post soak

501 day 119 post soak

10 Months

501 fit pics day 320

13 Months – Retired

501 day 385 final

David Shuck

David is the Managing Editor of Rawr Denim. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado.

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  • Damian

    Crazy good fades. Probably the best I’ve ever seen on pair of STFs. It’s incredible seeing the before and after fit pics. Holy perfect shrinkage! My only suggestion would be in this post. I’d definitely swap out the main/intro photos for the last/”retired” images. Looking at the intro photos had me anticipating a very ho-hum FF.

    • White Oak

      Best you’ve seen??? LOLLLLL these jeans look like joke. All STF’s are just poor man’s raws that fit and fade like shit.

      Buy some real rigid selvedge jeans like RRL or Jack Spade Rigids or something half decent that’s not made in the Dominican Republic.

      Save up your lunch money kids!

      • Arie van den Berg

        What´s wrong with a cheapy $ 30,00 Levi´s 501xx shrink-to-fit? It´s one of my favourite dry-denims and when I am in the USA, I buy a couple to wear in in Europe with great results. Love them, the Mother of all Jeans. Without Levi´s there would be no jeans like RRL and other overpriced brands.
        More respect to Levi´s and the guys who were it.

      • anonymous

        talk shit, post fit

      • picaneim

        Idiotic denim nazi

      • goldushapple

        Just because of your idiotic post I’m gonna purchase some 501’s I saw today at the outlet mall I was at.. They had them in various washes — looking forward to call a pair mine.

        • gr8gr33nz .

          Outlet mall exactly….
          where they belong. Why?because no one wants that cheap bs

      • DD


      • gr8gr33nz .

        Exactly Levi’s make me want to puke. Buy some real denim.

    • John Bull

      Yes, agreed. Definitely swap the pictures. Was looking at the title pictures and thinking ‘Hmm, my STF’s (18 weeks, 1 soak) look much more worn than that!’

  • Sal

    Nice ! But i dont think you should retire them just yet… They have another good year or so left in them.

  • Grandier

    i don’t normally comment on people’s soak/wash habit but….4 soaks and 4 washes in 13 months are a LOT =

    then again, seeing the progress over a period of time makes it awesome!

    • Boung

      doesn’t that just confirm that the ‘6 months rule’ and ‘wash as little as possible’ are a wash?
      also, see what i did there?

      • Grandier

        but that’s for people who want to get a high contrast…right? whereas in this case, this guy seem like he’s not aiming for a high contrast at all.

        also, it took me a while but i see what you did there lol

        • rockidr4

          Really it all comes down to how you use them. There is no way I’m going to be able to go a full half year without washing my jeans because I work outside and get really sweaty. My raw denim experience will be different from yours, and what’s great is that that’s okay.

      • goldushapple

        I guess it depends on the brand and model … The rule is definitely more malleable than what “heads” say. Every time I start to get “too serious” about when I should wash my pair of raws I say to myself “They’re just jeans, brah.” I then become calm. All is well.

      • goldushapple

        Yes, but the Raw Denim Bible and its prophets will just push this case to the side. Denim Hell you heretic!

    • goldushapple

      >>4 soaks and 4 washes in 13 months are a LOT =

      That shouldn’t really be a concern since the result was spectacular.

  • HGS

    Nice to see a pair of basic STF on here. I have a few of these in my rotation, worth picking up for $30 and seeing where they take you.

  • Eric

    Rad. I’m doing the same thing with a pair of STFs right now, and this makes me really psyched.

  • Jmw589

    damn! i just bought my first pair of raws, they are 501 STF to, I wish i had waited to soak but man i am really looking forward to how mine turn out now that i have seen these. not many good examples of levis on sites.

  • Dino

    If you’re done with them …i’ll buy them from you!!

  • Eyechild

    I bought a pair of LVC 501 STFs about 5 years back, and sized up on the advice of the retailer. They were 90s hip-hop baggy so I gave them a hot wash (yeah, should have soaked). I kind of felt like I’d ballsed up any chance of crisp fades so just started wearing them and washing whenever they got a bit skanky without worrying about it, and you know what? they look really good still. Second-skin comfortable and soft as hell with lots of character, and crucially, NO CROTCH BLOWOUT. No super contrasty fades either, but hey, still lots of indigo in there. Moral of this story? Don’t worry and enjoy the jeans!

  • Miguel L

    I wish I liked the way 501s fit me, but I just don’t. Following the sizing up chart for STF’s, will a post hot soak STF 501 still fit like a regular 501? I’m a 36×30, for reference.

    • Bobananda Das

      That’s one of the major advantages of a STF jean – they don’t fit like anything else because they are custom shrunk to your body. So no, a STF 501 will not fit like a regular 501. You can wear them at all stages of the shrink to adjust the size, and if you wear them damp, and allow them to dry on you, they will be so customized to you that you will never get a pair off a shelf in any brand that fit as well.

  • george costanza

    damn son

  • Nick

    I love my stf 501s I still wear them a few times a month. Everyone should have a pair. Nice job.

    • Arie van den Berg

      Great. According to me either: everyone should have/wear a simple basic Levi´s 501xx STF. Daily!!

  • swissjeansfreak

    You can get pretty nice denim evolution results with great fadings on all kind of raw denim and almost all kind of really dark non raw denim if worn hard over years without any soaking or washing. I even saw some cheap H&M jeans with quite strong fadings some time ago

  • Arie van den Berg

    Great great great results for someone who has his first dry-denim-experience. But please don´t retire it after 13 months. They will even get better with more wear, tear and repairs. I never retire my Levi´s STF 501xx, but repair and patch them over-and-over. Recommended and also an honour to Levi´s, the Mother of all Jeans………………..

  • Nas

    Really diggin the front side of the jean. It reminds me of my first STF project when after a few washes it turned into that light blue color that i really enjoyed.

  • showbe

    best stf fade on rawr denim ive seen and prolly one of the best few stfs ive seen altogether,

  • DD

    Roflmao. Retired jeans? I stopped buying new Levis after I took a photo of 20 plus PRS. ( With blown out crotches) and sent it 2 Levi, corp. Their reply, was basically 2Bad”. So I stopped buying them new. 2Bad”. Made in mexico, Egypt, Dominican republic…american? I wish! But sadly just another company like Gm Motor corp, that fly’s an american flag, but makes the cars, hummer, cattle lack” Buick, Chevy, in mexico…They said too bad” to a customer that routinely bought 5 PR. At a time since 1978. I would go to sears,JC. Penny, or millers outpost, and pick 10 PR. Of 32-34, and lay them out, noting the size differences, based on importer. Try them on toss the funky ones aside, pay & leave. Wear til Beautiful, and keep on. But after 1990 the crotches started blowing out, like a Brand new Hummer, that won’t steer….I put them aside and bought more, until I saw the trend in early 2000, it got worse. Now, I assure you it wasn’t because of crotch girth! Above average? Oh yeah….But not enough to warrant a too bad sir” Had they even offered me 1 free PR. With purchase of 1, they would have kept a customer. Instead, its time to retire Levis, for more fertile ground, Higher Quality, And a company that doesn’t tell a customer of 25 years, too bad”.