blue owl unsanforized guide

unsanforized sanforized one wash denim side by side

Buying unsanforized denim can be a headache if you’re treading unfamiliar territory. If you want the perfect fit, you'll have to master the art of the all-important soak process. Fortunately, we've created this instructional guide to help you on your shrink-to-fit journey.

The first step is to determine whether or not you need to shrink your jeans. Generally, there are three categories into which most selvedge denim fit: 


When jeans are labeled “unsanforized”, "loomstate", or “shrink-to-fit” this means that there has been no shrinkage done prior to the wearer receiving the denim, and one can expect anywhere from 3-10% of shrinkage from their pair. Unsanforized denim simply means the denim has not gone through the sanforization process.


Sanforization is a process where the manufacturer or mill will run the fabric through a treatment of water or steam to reduce the amount of shrinkage someone might expect when purchasing an unsanforized pair while retaining the stiff characteristics of the denim. Most sanforized denim is ready to wear without any further treatment or processing on the wearer's end. 


Often confused with sanforized denim; one-wash denim is actually unsanforized denim which has gone through a wash process to remove all shrinkage and some starch, resulting in softer denim that is ready to wear.

unsanforized denim before and after


1. Determine your size. With most unsanforized denim, we recommend to go up one or two sizes from your normal waist size to accommodate for shrinkage post-soak. The jeans should feel roomy, with about two fingers of space in the waistband and a pinch of fabric in the thigh area. 

2. Determine the ideal water temperature. This will determine how much the denim will shrink. The higher the temperature of the water, the more shrinkage you can expect. In general, use hot tap water if you need the waist to shrink ~1.5", lukewarm water for ~1", and cold water for less than 1". If you are unsure how much shrinkage is required, we recommend soaking the denim in cold water first to make sure they don't shrink up too much. You can always soak them again in warmer water to bring them in more if needed. (For hot soaks, do not use boiling water as this can damage the denim and leather patch)

 denim hovering over water unsanforization

Soaking the Jeans:

1. Find a soaking vessel. This can be a bathtub, sink, or bucket - any container that can fit a pair of jeans. You do not need to wear your jeans while they are soaking.

2. Fill your vessel up with water at your ideal temperature. Note that the hotter the water, the greater the shrinkage.

submerging denim jeans in water container

3. Fully submerge your denim in the water and let it sit for 30 - 45 minutes, allowing the fibers to soak up as much water as possible. You may need to weigh the denim down so it stays submerged. (Water bottles or shampoo containers work well for this)
4. Remove the jeans from the water and let them fully dry. You can either hang them up or lie them flat on a towel, whichever is more convenient.

bringing denim jeans out of water selvedge 

5. Once the denim has dried, try them on. You want the pair to be snug to allow for the fabric to stretch out a little bit. If the denim is still roomy, feel free to soak them again for further shrinkage. 

6. After you've dried the denim and have judged whether or not you require to give any additional soaks, you're finished and ready to begin wearing your custom shrink-to-fit selvedge jeans.

wet selvedge denim jeans hung up pure blue japan 


Tagged Size 32






Leg Opening















 *soak done using warm tap water for 30 minutes