How Stonewashed Jeans Are Made

How Stonewashed Jeans Are Made

Stonewashed jeans have become a popular choice among men and women alike. They typically feature a lighter, more aged appearance than traditional jeans. Even if you’re familiar with the general concept of stonewashed jeans, though, you might be surprised to learn how they are made. 

While stonewashed jeans are still made of the same denim fabric as traditional jeans, the way in which they are manufactured varies. Keep reading to learn more about stonewashed jeans and how they are made.

What Are Stonewashed Jeans?

The term “stonewashed jeans” refers to a unique style of denim jeans that are made using a technique known as stone washing. You can find them in all the same cuts as traditional jeans, including the boot cut, skinny, straight leg, low rise, high rise, boyfriend, and more. Some stonewashed jeans are even made of stretch denim, allowing for increased elasticity and, therefore, a more comfortable fit.

The defining characteristic of stonewashed jeans, however, is that they are made using a technique known as stone washing. As a result, they feature a softer texture and a lighter tone than traditional jeans.

Who Invented Stonewashed Jeans?

This is a question that remains open to debate. Over time, several people and organizations have claimed to have invented stonewashed jeans. Donald Freeland of the Great Western Garment Company is one such person who’s believed to have invented this unique style of denim. 

However, others say that Claude Blankiet invented stonewashed jeans, as she developed this process of washing jeans. Perhaps the most plausible theory is that French stylists Marithé and François Girbaud came up with the idea of stonewashed jeans.

Regardless of who invented them, stonewashed jeans are making an official comeback. Stonewashed denim first gained popularity in the 1980s, during which punk rock musicians sported the style. 

Soon after, however, this style of denim began to decline, giving way to traditional, non-stonewashed jeans. In the 1990s and 2000s stonewashed jeans regained their popularity, with countless men and women choosing to wear them. Since then, they’ve only become more popular — a trend that will likely continue in the years to come.

Steps to Making Stonewashed Jeans

Denim manufacturing companies produce stonewashed jeans by exposing them to stones. While the exact steps used in their production vary, they are typically placed in an industrial-grade washing machine that’s filled with large and heavy stones. When the washing machine is activated, the stones and jeans tumble around inside the drum. 

As this happens, the jeans are knocked dozens or even hundreds of times by the stones. The idea of placing jeans in a washing machine with stones may sound unusual, but it’s the basis on which stonewashed jeans are made. The stones added to the washing machine don’t cause significant damage to the jeans. 

Rather, they cause just enough damage to create the appearance of natural aging. You can always replicate the appearance of stonewashed jeans by allowing your jeans to age naturally, but this can take years or even decades. A faster solution is to simply invest in a pair of premium, high-quality stonewashed jeans. 

Traditional “washed denim” jeans are also placed in a washing machine during production. After the raw denim has been cut and crafted into the shape of jeans, the garment is placed inside a washing machine where it’s exposed to water. Conversely, stonewashed jeans are placed in a washing machine with stones. It’s a subtle difference that results in some unique benefits (see below).

Stonewashed Jeans

Benefits of Stonewashed Jeans

Why should you choose stonewashed jeans over other denim styles? For starters, most people will agree that stonewashed jeans offer a superior level of comfort compared to other styles. When stonewashed jeans are placed in a washing machine with heavy stones, they become significantly softer. 

After the jeans have gone through the stone washing process, they come out more flexible, which also makes them more comfortable to wear. Many people prefer stonewashed jeans because of their unique appearance. They feature subtle nuances in regards to the fabric and tone that simply aren’t found elsewhere. 

Granted, distressed jeans offer a similar appearance, but stonewashed is truly unique in its ability to create a distinct look. You don’t have to worry about your stonewashed jeans fading, either. Any pair of jeans may fade somewhat over time. If you wear the same pair of jeans, day after day for over a year, you can expect them to fade. 

With that said, stonewashed jeans tend to fade less than traditional styles of jeans. This is because stone washing naturally fades jeans. Therefore, the already faded jeans shouldn’t suffer from severe fading in the future.

Acid-Washed vs Stonewashed Jeans

Let’s quickly tackle a common misconception some people have – that acid-washed jeans are the same as stonewashed jeans. Although they share a similar appearance (both styles look vintage and aged) they aren’t necessarily the same. 

Acid-washed jeans are made by placing denim jeans in a washing machine with pumice stones and chlorine. The pumice stones work to distress the jeans — similar to how the stones in stonewashed jeans work. The difference, however, is that acid-washed jeans have a lower level of distress than stonewashed jeans.

Furthermore, acid-washed jeans typically feature a bleached appearance. After all, they are made using chlorine, which is a bleaching agent that can turn colored garments white. This is in stark contrast to stonewashed jeans, which are not exposed to any chlorine or other bleaching agent during production.

If you’re looking for a pair of distressed jeans, you can’t go wrong with either acid-washed or stonewashed jeans. Of those styles, though, stonewashed jeans offer the highest level of distress because they are made with large and heavy stones rather than porous and lightweight pumice stones.

How to Choose the Perfect Pair of Stonewashed Jeans

Girl with Stonewashed Jeans

When shopping for stonewashed jeans, make sure they fit. If they are too big or too small, you probably won’t wear them. Instead, you’ll grab a pair of fitted jeans from your closet to wear. By taking the time to choose a pair of fitted stonewashed jeans, you’ll get the most use out of your new jeans.

You should also consider the level of distress when choosing a pair of stonewashed jeans. Some stonewashed jeans are heavily distressed, whereas others have subtle patches of distressing.

Check to see whether the stonewashed jeans are made of selvedge denim. Selvedge denim isn’t a specific type of denim. Rather, selvedge denim refers to jeans in which a few inches at the bottom of each pant leg have been folded up and sewn into place. Selvedge jeans are popular because of their unique style. 

Additionally, these jeans are less likely to wear and degrade than traditional jeans. It’s also a good idea to inspect the care tag when shopping for stonewashed jeans. Also known as the care label, the care tag contains instructions straight from the manufacturer on how to wash, dry, and care for the stonewashed jeans.

Tips on Wearing Stonewashed Jeans

Now that you know a little bit about stonewashed jeans, you might be wondering how to wear them. There’s really no “wrong” way to wear them, as it’s a matter of personal style. Nonetheless, you can check out some fashion tips for wearing stonewashed jeans below.

Here are some helpful tips on how to rock a pair of stonewashed jeans:

  • Embrace the light blue colors. While stonewashed jeans are available in dozens of colors, light blue is arguably the most versatile. It’s easy to match with other colors, and it looks great no matter how it’s worn. For these reasons and others, you should embrace light blue colors in your stonewashed jeans.
  • Choose the right size. Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing stonewashed jeans in the right size. If they are too big, they’ll look awkward and funny when you wear them. But if they are too small, you may have trouble moving around. 
  • Thankfully, we make the process of finding the perfect size a breeze. Here at MakeYourOwnJeans, you can specify your own measurements when checking out, which we’ll use to create the perfect pair of custom-fitted stonewashed jeans.

  • Accessorize with a belt. The only “must-have” accessory to wear with stonewashed jeans is a belt. In addition to keeping your jeans up, a belt also adds new color and style to your outfit. Assuming you are wearing traditional light blue stonewashed jeans, try pairing them with a darker blue or black-colored belt.
  • Keep your look casual. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to achieve a formal appearance when wearing stonewashed jeans — and that’s okay. Stonewashed jeans aren’t intended to be worn to formal events. This style utilizes a more casual look, so that’s when you should wear them.

In Conclusion

Stonewashed jeans are denim jeans that are made using a stone-washing technique. To produce them, manufacturers place denim jeans in a washing machine where they are exposed to large and heavy stones. When the stones beat against the surface of the jeans, it distresses them. The end result is a pair of fashionable yet comfortable jeans.

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