How to look after vintage denim?

For over a century, denim has been the fabric of choice for many. Emerging as a solution to manual workwear uniforms in the 19th century, denim proved itself to be a durable, desirable, and influential fabric. More recently, in the fashion world, denim has taken on many forms, from casual jeans to haute couture gowns. 

But nothing is quite as coveted as vintage denim. The quality and versatility of design, fabric and overall aesthetic of vintage denim just can’t be replicated. That's why it's so important to take care of vintage denim so that it gets as much use out of it as possible.

Below, you'll find some tips and tricks on how to look after your vintage denim and keep it in use for years to come!

1. Why should we look after denim? 

Collage of 4 historical magazine cuttings all showing different vintage denim brands. From left to right there is Levi's, Lee, Wrangler & Levi's again

Shop Vintage Denim

Shop Vintage Levi's

Before we delve into the specifics of vintage denim care, it's important to understand the basics of denim. Denim is a sturdy cotton twill fabric that is commonly used in clothing such as jeans, jackets, and skirts. Denim can be made from various cotton weights and thread counts, and its unique texture comes from the way the fabric is woven. When caring for denim, it's important to remember that it's a natural fabric and can fade and wear over time.

2. Washing vintage denim

The first rule of vintage denim care is to avoid washing it!

Vintage denim has already been through a lot, and frequent washing can cause it to lose its unique characteristics. When it's time to wash your vintage denim, turn it inside out and wash it in cold water with a mild detergent. Avoid using fabric softener as it can cause the fabric to become too soft and lose its shape. Hang your vintage denim to air dry rather than using a dryer, as the high heat can cause shrinkage and damage to the fabric.

You may have heard of freezing your jeans... Levi's came out and said that to kill bacteria and remove smells from your Levis jeans you should stick them in the freezer. This is still yet to be a proven, however...

3. Storing vintage denim

When it comes to storing vintage denim, the key is to keep it away from direct sunlight and moisture. Sunlight can cause the fabric to fade and moisture can cause mold and mildew. Store your vintage denim in a cool, dry place such as a wardrobe or chest of drawers. If you're storing it for an extended period of time, consider wrapping it in acid-free tissue paper to prevent any damage.

4. Repairing vintage denim

Vintage denim especially vintage denim jeans can develop holes and tears over time, but that doesn't mean it's time to retire it just yet. Instead, consider repairing it. If you're handy with a needle and thread, you can find easy DIY hacks to repair your vintage denim. For larger repairs, consider taking it to a professional tailor or denim repair shop.

5. Avoiding harsh chemicals

When it comes to vintage denim care, it's important to avoid harsh chemicals such as bleach and strong detergents. These chemicals can cause the fabric to break down and lose its colour. Instead, opt for mild detergents and spot cleaning with a gentle soap and water solution.

6. Embrace the wear & tear!

Magazine cover from The Face with the headline 'Hard Times' and showing a closeup of the bum of ripped levi's jeans.

The Face, magazine cover, September 1982

Shop Mens Vintage Jeans

Shop Womens Vintage Jeans

Vintage denim is all about the wear and tear, so don't be afraid to embrace it. The faded areas, frayed edges, and unique distressing all add to the character and charm of your vintage denim. Wear it often and let it develop its own unique patina over time.

Vintage denim is a staple of modern life, a piece of history if you like, and should be treated like a prized possession! By following these tips for washing, storing, repairing, and avoiding harsh chemicals you can preserve your denim for so much longer as well as reducing waste!



  • How often should I wash my vintage denim?
  • Can I use fabric softener on my vintage denim?
  • Where should I store my vintage denim?
  • How can I prevent my vintage denim from fading?


Previous Post Next Post