But there's a secret to giving your favourite pair of jeans that worn-in patina and look. And for many people, that secret would be a step too far. But it's a trick more of us could do with embracing, for a reason that's environmentally vital.
The head honchos of both Mud and Nudie, Scandi jeans manufacturers with seriously green credentials, have come out of the closet about how they care for their jeans. It's a simple thing, really. They just don't wash them. Palle Stenberg of Nudie says:
Palle was wearing a pair of Nudies for the interview that he'd worn every day for at least two years. More and more big names in the denim world, including superstars like Tommy Hilfiger, are coming forward and saying that they too don't wash their jeans."Buy a pair of organic jeans, never wash them and you wear them and wear them and wear them and they become like a second skin."
Ok, let's deal with the argument that you're no doubt yelling at your computer screen right now. Over an 18-month period in 2010-2011, researchers at the University of Alberta found that jeans that had been washed and jeans that hadn't contained a similar level of bacteria. In other words, washing made little difference to the hygenic level of the garments.
There's a more serious point to be made. The environmental impact of a pair of jeans actually increases after it's been brought home from the shops. Laundering creates the biggest carbon footprint in the life of the garment. Every time we stick our jeans in the washing machine, we're using large amounts of water and power, as well as flushing toxic detergents into the sewers. Kate Fletcher, Reader in Sustainable Fashion at the London College Of Fashion, has noted in a recent study that the energy needed to wash your clothes is about six times the amount needed to make it in the first place.
This un-nerving fact brings us on to a very uncomfortable truth: it makes huge environmental sense to wash our clothes less and wear them more. The Nudie Jeans website is full of advice enabling you to wear that expensive pair of strides until they fall off you--a process that, with the repair service included, should take years. It's only in the last hundred or so years that we as a society have become used to big wardrobes and lots of choice in what we wear. That choice is having a huge impact on our planet, and the energy expended in caring for them is becoming a serious issue.
The Huffington Post has come up with a few tips for those of us who are worried about odour, including hanging your garments outside, or sticking them in the freezer. Or, hey, you shower every day--why not go in fully dressed, and get two jobs out of the way at once?