The world of Raw Denim can be overwhelming for a newcomer. But in the Summer of 2011, my girlfriend and I went on a trip to visit Wefty and his wife in Portland Oregon. While we were there, Wefty took it upon himself to teach me a bit about Raw Denim. He showed me his Agave Purists, a pair of jeans I had seen a year earlier. They had changed tremendously: While they had started plain and boring looking, they now showed a variety of fades and character unique to his body. They even had specific rips in the back of the knees that he explained came from the Dead Sea on a trip we went on together. I decided I wanted in.
Wefty took me to a store called Blake, and there he pointed out detail after detail on various pairs of jeans. Everything from texture, to slubbiness, to stitching types and more. I couldn’t remember most of the details. Ultimately, he showed me a pair of Tellason’s John Graham Mellor 12.5 ounce. He said that the lightness of the denim would allow me to get used to Raw for the first time. I was surprised by this: The jeans were stiff in comparison to anything I had worn before.
|Cross-thigh fades, knee color change, and a hole pre-patch.|
When I tried on the first pair, they fit perfectly. I was comfortable in them, and they were not too tight. Wefty and the sales associate then told me to try on the next size down, because they would stretch as I wore. The new pair buttoned fairly easily, but was slightly uncomfortable from the tightness. They convinced me that this was the right fit, and assured me that they would fit within a few days. By the time we had walked a couple miles back to his apartment, they had already become more comfortable.
I wore every day for the next few days. I even wore them for 28 hours straight when my girlfriend and I flew home, and ended up with a rash behind my knees. My skin is a bit sensitive, and the raw denim was a bit much between a day of normal wear, a cross-country plane ride, and another day of normal wear. Luckily, after a few days of wearing shorts, I was able to wear the Tellasons daily thereafter. I also washed them too soon the first time: My dog slobbered on them, and I worried too much about them. So at about one month, they had their first wash. 15 months and a couple of soaks later, this is what they look like.
They’ve definitely help up well considering the wear.
You may have noticed that the denim is more of a greyish-green than an indigo blue. This is thanks to the Cone Mills’ dyeing process. For their lighter fabrics, they use a higher sulfur:indigo ratio than some other denims. This is because the threads are thinner, and to retain any color at all you have to fix the indigo to the thread more than you would with a thicker strand. But fixed indigo has a greenish color instead of a brilliant blue, and there is less free indigo in the threads. Hence, greenish-grey.
Wear Patterns and Repairs
For all 15 months, I wore a thick, black leather belt with these Tellasons. They wore into the leather patch and partially faded the trademark, and damn near wore through the belt-loops. The fact that the belt-loops are still intact is a testament to the quality construction, as several other pairs of jeans and khaki’s have lost their loops before to the rough edges of this monster belt.
While I was wearing these jeans, my girlfriend and I adopted a cat named Leo. Leo clawed at my leg to let me know he liked me, and induced a few marks of slubbiness. Also, the playtime spent on my knees wore a hole in left leg. I’ve patched them since taking these pictures using an old pair of non-selvedge, non-raw denim’s shin piece using Wefty’s guide to patching, and I expect that the patch will hold up for some time.
|Center in Dark Blue: Quality stitching done on a machine.
Right in Light Blue: Hand repair attempt at replicating Darning. I don’t recommend.
The crotch is in what I would call decent shape, however. After some minor repair (including my poorly-done home-stitch and a well done machine-stitch by someone else), the jeans are holding strong here. The holes never did get bigger than a penny, unlike Wefty’s Tellason Ankaras that he wrote the guide on.
I will likely patch them for a more long-term solution this summer when I want to wear them more, as the denim has lightened with extended wear, making them the perfect su