How to “Wear” Jeans: A Look at Five Great Fades

Levi Strauss & Co.
April 1, 2014

For serious fade artists, creating the perfect worn jeans look isn’t just a hobby—it’s an art form. Whether it’s behind-the-knee fades, all-over color fades or lap fades; fading isn’t just a style statement, it can be downright hard work.

Some fade fans go to seriously extreme lengths to get the desired worn effect look just right. There’s laundry abstaining, sun bleaching and wearing your wallet and smartphone in the same pocket all day every day, to name a few. We sought out some of the coolest fades online. Here are a few of the most inspiring worn-looks we found.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a comprehensive resource on jeans fading, the folks at Heddels have a great ongoing column devoted to the craft called Fade Fridays, while this 101 primer on jeans fading provides a no-holds-barred intro to the subject.

So what do you think—how far would you go for the perfect fade?

Sun Bleaching: This form of fading requires minimum tools. Just set your jeans out in the sun, and voila—you’ll find a great slow fade over time. It just might take a while for jeans to achieve the desired effect via direct sunlight. On Denimblog, one fade enthusiast set his jeans in the sun for 32 days! Now that’s serious dedication to the craft.

The ‘Stuff-in-Your-Pockets’ Fading: While the wallet fade has become as ubiquitous as lap fades and whiskering, a newer popular pocket accessory—the iPhone—has launched scores of message boards online both in celebration and condemnation of cellphone outlines being worn on to the front and back of jeans.

Red Sand Soak: A highly unique fade, we discovered the “red sand soak” via the folks who post to Heddel’s Fade Fridays. The jeans were tinged red thanks to the wearer’s trip to the famous red sand beach of Prince Edward Island’s Malpeque Bay. And we must admit—the red hue of this fade is nothing short of excellent.

The No Wash Ever Fade: It’s no secret that for many raw denim enthusiasts, washing your jeans can be heresy in its own right. But there are usually limits—whether it’s every six weeks, six months, or even a year between washes. But even we’re impressed by a denim lover who posted pics of his jeans to Heddels, claiming that his jeans have the ultimate natural fade: They haven’t been washed in 15 years.

Water Wearing: Here at LS&Co., we’re partial to the popular technique of water wearing (thanks to our Shrink-to-Fit jeans, of course); and this how-to is a fun introduction to the craft.

It’s worth noting that the picture above is that of a colleague’s Levi’s® Made and Crafted™ jeans and the back-pocket “fade” wasn’t intentional—just what happens when you wear the same pair with the same wallet in the same back pocket often enough.