Photo by Eliesa Johnson
When you get down to it, we’re all on the same journey—restless, dissatisfied, self-conscious, and searching, always searching. For the perfect pair of jeans.
For Satchel B. Moore, the quest began in high school with some mediocre mall jeans he had tapered after purchase at Tom’s Tailor on Grand Avenue. He then burned through Diesel, AG, 7 For All Mankind, and some skinny black jeans from an Australian brand that were never quite right, but he got distracted by the beautiful sales girl.
The breakthrough came when Moore, a St. Paul native, discovered denim brand Cheap Monday on a Swedish website and spent nearly as much on shipping as he did on the jeans.
They were raw. They were tapered. They got better with wear. “There’s a purity to it,” says Moore, a denim monogamist who has been known to commit to one pair for as long as 15 months. As in, every day. He can point out the jeans he wore on a trip to the Boundary Waters and recall wearing them on a date night to the Guthrie the very next week.
“Jeans were designed to protect you but also to show off your shape,” Moore says. “That’s where the promise lies. Why we all love jeans.” But none of us quite as much as Moore, who turned his passion into a profession as store manager of BlackBlue in St. Paul, where many of his retired jeans—Levi’s, Raleigh, and other American-made brands—hang on the wall. They’re not for sale, rather, dangling evidence of how good jeans can get. Moore is on a first-name basis with most of the small denim manufacturers sold in the shop. He personally does all the denim alterations on a vintage Union Special, using the exact thread to match each brand’s stitching. “Cotton thread on the verge of failure is a beautiful thing,” Moore says. He could talk about denim for hours. Often, he does.
“It’s not about durability. It’s the art of aging. And that’s a very honest thing.”
The Raw Demim Deal
It’s come to signify a badge of hipster honor, but what exactly is raw denim, anyway? As Moore points out, all denim starts out “raw.” Most jeans get treated—stretched, stoned, faded, blended—in a factory before hitting the sales floor, so they look their best the day of purchase. Raw denim hasn’t been messed with, so the wear and tear is all yours, and the idea is that they get better with age.
Here’s how to care for your raw jeans:
- Buy raw denim extremely tight—the jeans will grow as much as a size.
- Don’t wash them until you’re grossed out or they get too big.
- To shape your jeans, wear them in cold water—the bathtub, a clean lake—and keep them on until dry.
- A less extreme option: Wash them in the machine on cold, inside out.
- Don’t be fooled by the dryer: That fluffy tightness is fleeting. Always air-dry. And remember: crispy = integrity.