For over a century, it has been one of the King Family goals to create garments that are "hard-working" and durable so that they will outlast the rest. Exactly how long they will last is a multipart equation that starts with the quality materials and hardware we choose to use. Then of course are the construction techniques and machinery we choose to use for each garment. But maybe most important in the equation, is you. The care and handling choices you make with your LC King garments can make a huge difference in their longevity. This page is meant as a general guide to provide a basic understanding of simple maintenance for your handmade LC King clothing. By no means is this a full resource or instructions for every scenario you may encounter. If you have specific questions about Fit, Wash, Dry, and Wear for your LC King garments, please contact our customer support team directly. We are happy to help you get the right fit and help you keep them strong and healthy for years to come.

JUMP TO : RAW vs. PreWashed Sanforization Shrinkage Washing

Common Questions


Understanding RAW vs. PreWashed

This is probably one of the most frequent questions we get asked. "What exactly is a RAW jean or RAW coat?"

A RAW garment has been cut and sewn directly from the original milled fabric and has been unaffected through the process. It has not been washed, rinsed, cleaned, pressed, or anything else that would affect the original weave. A RAW garment is in its purest, cleanest, stiffest, and brightest form. This can be a very desirable feature for those who wish to start from this "blank canvas" and create all wear and wash character on their own. This is especially true for RAW indigo denim in its SELVEDGE and non-SELVEDGE forms, and it can be just as desirable for Duck Canvas, Hickory Stripe, Fisher Stripe, and White Drill materials. 

The counter option to RAW is PreWashed garments. PreWashed garments have gone through some sort of wet/dry cycle that will alter the characteristics of a RAW garment. They will no longer be in their "purest, cleanest, stiffest, or brightest" form (maybe a matter of opinion). There is a scale of PreWash affect to consider:

  • A minimal amount of PreWash affect is often called a "Rinse" and is a very simple water only short soak followed by either hang-dry or a commercial dryer cycle. 
  • A standard "Wash" is a full water with detergent cycle followed by a commercial dryer cycle. A "Wash" may also introduce some abrasives into the cycle to further break down the fabrics original stiffness and increase the amount of dye that will be removed from the garment resulting in a contemporary "lightly faded" appearance.
  • At the far end of the spectrum is a "Heavy Wash" which may include aggressive fading techniques, distressing, faux fade marking, and imitation wear patterns.
There is one HUGE offshoot to this concept that must be considered...SANFORIZATION! SANFORIZED fabrics have been pre-shrunk using a mechanical or chemical process usually applied directly during the mills weaving process. The "claim to fame" of Sanforization is that the amount of shrinkage which will occur after purchase could be very minimal or possibly even none. Sanforization became an important part of denim production over 50 years ago, and it is still an interesting choice to consider when purchasing a RAW garment. To many purists, the basic idea of Sanforization negates the aesthetic choice of purchasing a RAW garment to begin with. Opinions vary, but we like to keep our customers informed.
At LC King, we choose to use some Sanforized and some UnSanforized indigo dyed denim fabrics. All of our other RAW garments are UnSanforized.  We indicate which indigo items are Sanforized in the description for each garment, but the vast majority of our clothing which sells in its RAW state will be UnSanforized.

    Although the choice between RAW and PreWashed is mostly a personal style or aesthetic choice, there is an underlying differentiating feature that MUST be considered during the shopping and purchasing phase....SHRINKAGE!


    Considering the Shrinkage!

    Let's start with this....ALL FABRICS WILL SHRINK. It is an inherent feature of the process and result of weaving fibers. Understanding, and maybe even "controlling", the shrink cycle is necessary to buying and maintaining your garments.

    Purchasing - 
    When you are shopping for the perfect fit of your favorite garment, you MUST consider whether the garment is RAW or PreWashed, and thusly the shrinkage that is yet to occur or has already occurred. 

    A PreWashed garment usually has completed between 90-100% of its possible shrinkage depending on exactly HOW it was washed. 
    A RAW garment still has all of its shrinkage left to reveal.

    This is imperative to consider as you are choosing a size and considering it for personal fit.

    A PreWashed garment can be safely judged for general fit as long as you accept that there may be a small percentage of shrinkage left to occur. That small percentage is very often countered by the amount of natural stretch which occurs from day to day wear.
    A RAW garment CAN NOT be used as a sizing sample, UNLESS you intend to keep the garment in its RAW unwashed state. If you choose to wash a RAW garment, the shrinkage will not only affect the waist and length (possibly by inches), but will also affect the entire body shape and silhouette of the final garment.

    Yes, this adds a layer of difficulty and responsibility to the purchasing process and is usually the core reason a customer may prefer PreWashed vs. RAW garments. It is also the foundation of many consumer's appreciation for the SANFORIZATION process (see above).

    The exact amount of shrinkage a RAW or PreWashed garment will incur depends on many factors. Some of those factors are uncontrollable like:

        • Fabric differences batch to batch
        • Fabric differences mill to mill
        • Age of woven fabric
        • Weave characteristics (duck vs. denim for example)
    But much of the shrinkage process IS controllable...or at least manageable...as it occurs during the wash/dry cycles that YOU chose to apply. So, making a wise choice in HOW you wash and WHEN you wash your garments is the next most important facet of increasing garment longevity.


    This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes...

    Let us start with one broad statement....the more you wash your garments, the faster they will age and the shorter their lifespan will be. Contemporary washing machines, detergents, and high-heat dryers are amazing for their ease and efficiency, but are really not the best at supporting the longevity of your garments. Our "first world" societies convince us that washing our clothes after a single wear is the right thing to do. But if they are not dirty, do they really need a full wash? This is something to consider as we now will discuss variations to the traditional wash cycle that may suit your needs and budget much better.

    There is a scale of acceptable washing processes that all fine-garment owners should be educated on and make the correct decision for your needs, your garments, your skills, and your goals. This is NOT meant as an instructional, but as a introduction to washing variants that should be considered on a case-by-case scenario. There is a plethora of information on washing options that can be found around the web and from your local Heritage shop and we do not intend for this to be a recommendation or direction in any way. Educate yourself and discover your best personal path.

    So...how do you need to wash your garments to ensure they live the full and active life they were intended for? Here are some wash cycles to consider:

    1 - Soak and Hang (The Bare Minimum)
    With this wash system, you submerge your garment in luke warm water in a bath tub for 15-20min. Hand massage it to release the bulk of dirt and oils, rinse with cold water, and then hang to dry.
      • PROS
        • Bare minimum of garment shrinkage (can be especially important for maintaining the fit of RAW garments)
        • Extremely easy on the fabric and allows for maximum possible longevity
        • Minimal dye release to protect neighbor garments
          • turn garment inside out to help minimize dye release
          • raw indigo dyed denim is a great choice for this system
        • Will retain as much of the RAW character as possible while still allowing a cleanse and minimal shrink to bring the garment into a maintainable status.
      • CONS - 
        • Definitely more work and personal attention compared to a washing machine cycle
        • Garment will retain its stiffness and color as close to original if you are looking or a "worn-in" look and feel
        • May not seem as clean as you are use to from a traditional wash
      • VARIABLES - 
        • Adding a minimal amount of detergent to the hand-wash cycle will help to clean and sanitize to a higher degree. To maintain a maximum of dye and fade character, we recommend WOOLITE DARK as a great solution for hand wash process.
    2 - Rinse, Spin, Tumble (Machine Based Minimum)
    With this wash system, you submerge your garment in luke warm water in your washing machine for 15-20 minutes, , add detergent and hand massage it to release the bulk of dirt and oils, use the rinse and spin cycles for finishing. Tumble dry with NO HEAT in your standard dryer.
        • PROS
          • Manageable garment shrinkage (can be especially important for RAW garments)
          • Fine choice for the fabric health to increase its longevity
          • Controllable amount of dye release (wash solo to protect neighbor garments)
            • turn garment inside out to help minimize dye release
          • Will retain a high degree of the RAW character but will definitely take on a visible and tangible difference from its original state.
          • "Clean" finished product that has been shrunk to a maintainable status.
        • CONS - 
          • Definitely more work and personal attention compared to a traditional wash/dry cycle
          • Garment will lose its RAW character of stiffness and original tone. 
          • May not seem as clean as you are use to from a traditional wash
        • VARIABLES - 
          • Hang dry to help maintain a stiff and rigid fit and feel.

    3 - Wash, Dry with No Heat (Pretty Easy)
    With this wash system, you wash your garment in a traditional washing machine cycle (delicate) with a wise choice in detergent, standard washing machine rinse, and then tumble dry with NO HEAT or hang to dry.

      • PROS
        • Average garment shrinkage (can be too much for preserving raw denim sizing)
        • Extremely easy on the fabric for its possible longevity
        • Minimal dye release to protect neighbor garments
          • turn garment inside out to help minimize dye release
        • Will retain as much of the RAW character as possible while still allowing a cleanse and minimal shrink to bring the garment into a maintainable status.
      • CONS - 
        • Definitely more work and personal attention compared to a washing machine cycle
        • Garment will retain some of its stiffness and color as close to original if you are looking or a "worn-in" look and feel
      • VARIABLES - 
        • Hang dry to help maintain a stiff and rigid fit and feel. 

    4 - Washer/Dryer (The Old College Effort)
    This is simply washing and drying your garment by the standard of contemporary society. Use a standard wash and dry cycle from a modern washing machine and dryer as we were all taught to do at some point.

      • PROS
        • Very easy - No extra effort, especially compared to the above washing systems.
        • Garment will soften and fade in to a uniform look and feel after just a few washes.
      • CONS - 
        • Garment will shrink to its maximum possible amount over the course of 2 wash cycles. The exact amount of shrinkage will vary depending on many criteria.
        • "Hard washing" can be punishing to the garment and may diminish its longevity.
        • Maximum amount of dye will be released and an obvious faded look will arise. Released dye may affect neighbor garments in shared wash cycle (color bleed).
      • VARIABLES - 
        • Shrinkage can be pushed to absolute extreme by increasing heat and time of dry cycle. The hotter and longer the garment dry cycle, the maximum amount of shrinkage will occur.



    #1 - I just received my raw chore coat and my "perfect fit" is right in between your sizes (as per the listed size charts). What can I do?
    All of our RAW chore coats will shrink to some degree when washed. If you find yourself needing an "in-between" size, we recommend making use of the natural shrinkage which will occur. Although the exact amount of shrinkage that will occur is based on too many variables to say there is a formula, a "light wash" vs. a "hard wash" will give you someplace between 1/4 and 3/4 of a size reduction. We recommend starting with a simple soak in warm water for 15-20 minutes followed by hanging to dry. This will result in the minimum amount of shrinkage as the fibers seize during their natural drying sequence. If you need more size reduction, move to a "hard wash" by running the coat through a standard wash and hot dry cycle in your standard washer/dryer set. Although this will result in about 95% of total shrinkage, there could still be a little more shrinkage to occur if you perform a second "hard wash". With this system, you should be able to shrink in steps to find just the right sizing ot suit your style and needs. 


    #2 - I purposefully purchased my raw jeans one size too large to account for shrinkage. Now that I have them, I am not sure what to do next.
    Firstly, great job understanding that there will be a degree of shrinkage that will occur in your raw jeans and purchasing a size that accounts for it. Since you purchased your jeans a full size large, you are probably going to be best off with a "hard wash" cycle. Use a standard hot water wash and hot dry cycle with your traditional washer and dryer equipment. A single wash will impact the raw fabric greatly and it will shrink to about 85-95% of its total possible reduction. A second "hard wash" will take that to 100%. Depending on the fabric and the specific characteristics of your wash, this could reduce the waist and length by 1-2". If you are washing a dyed fabric (indigo, fisher, hickory, etc) then we recommend you turn your jeans inside out and wash them solo to help control the dye loss and color bleed into other garments.


    #3 - My new Raw Selvedge jeans were just delivered and I am not sure what to do next. I have researched selvedge and raw denim online but am more confused than ever. Help please!
    Your first pair of Selvedge jeans can be a greatly satisfying purchase, but it can also be quite frustrating if you are new to the RAW and SELVEDGE arena. The internet has so much wonderful information about how to fit and maintain your jeans that it can be quite overwhelming. Additionally, there is quite a bit of contradictory information in this arena and a confusing mix of fact and opinion. That being said, we are not going to add to that mix with our own opinions and surely hope that our customers venture to find their own path toward SELVEDGE fit and maintenance. We do offer a sequence of care that seems to work well for us for initial fit and enhancing longevity. This will not be the best option for everyone, but if you are not sure where to start....try this:

    • First - know your denim - Before you do anything, make sure you know your denim. Is it Sanforized or UnSanforized? What is its shrink ratio? What is its dye bleed reputation? Each of these may influence what you actually do next. If you are confident you can control or afford garment shrinkage, then you are ready to move forward.
    • Start with a soak - Your new RAW Selvedge jeans will arrive stiff, starchy, and with remnant production floor grime. Start by soaking your new jeans (inside out) in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Hand massage the jeans to release general accumulates and then rinse with cold water for a few minutes. Hang to dry. Wear to enjoy!
    • Spot clean only - If you are looking to maintain maximum dye and contrast, the goal will be to not wash the jeans for 4-6 months of regular wear (longer is fine if you can take it). Spot clean as necessary during this time, but you don't have to baby these jeans. Wear them hard and let them become the representation of your daily life.
    • Wash minimally - When the time comes to wash your jeans...whether it has been 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years...you are going to want to take your time and wash by hand. Soak the jeans (inside out) in warm water for 15 -20 minutes.  Detergent is a choice at this point, but if you do choose it, choose wisely. We like to recommend WOOLITE DARK for its ability to maintain dye adhesion and contrast fading structure. Use a small amount and hand massage the jeans to release all of the dirt and oils that have accumulated. Rinse with cold water and hang to dry. This wash system should help you get your jeans acceptably clean while maintaining the contrast fades and character that you have imparted into the Selvedge jeans over time.
    • Repeat only as necessary - Excessive washing and detergent use is a sure way to reduce the lifespan of your RAW jeans or any garment for that matter. Use good common sense and not a formula as your guide to when you need to wash.
    • Enjoy!
    This system should net you a wonderful pair of jeans that will reveal their inner beauty over time and last for years. Of course, there is nothing to say that this is the right system for you. Many of our customers purchase Selvedge jeans and wash and dry them with the rest of their clothing on a regular basis. That is fine too! If you are looking for a great resource for all things RAW Denim, visit our friends over at http://www.heddels.com/ - you won't be sorry.