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BEHIND THE DESIGN: DENIM WASHES EDITION

Ever wonder how our brand-new jeans have that perfectly lived-in look? We tagged along with the Madewell design team and learned allll about how our special washes are developed.

It all starts with a “blank,” which means raw jeans that haven’t been washed yet. Think a totally clean slate—just superdark indigo.

From there, we fine-tune our processes in order to achieve different looks. We start with a really loved pair of vintage jeans so we have something to reference when recreating wear patterns as authentically as possible.

Next up: the fun stuff. We use techniques like hand-sanding, which is exactly what it sounds like: artfully applying sandpaper by hand to add subtle whiskering up around the front pockets. Then comes stonewashing, which involves plopping the blank pair in an industrial washer along with some choice rocks and a bleaching agent. That lightens up the original dark color a bit, adds abrasion for a slightly imperfect look and softens the fabric so that it feels truly worn in when you touch it. Finally, we’ll do a little grinding to wear away at the fabric just enough.

The result? A lucky-thrift-store-find look, without having to do any, y’know, finding.

So. Many. Good. Washes. Shop all jeans right here.