The 10 Dos And Don’ts of Denim with PRPS’s Mikelle Street
We’ve been a fan of Donwan Harrell’s PRPS brand since its start back in 2002. Having broken his teeth at Donna Karan and Nike, the die-hard denim fanatic with his etched cherub logo has built a cult classic handcrafted in Japan. The New York-based brand is stocked at the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, colette, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. With over a decade of experience at his own brand, the self-proclaimed “jean hunter” and co-founder of Akademiks is a bit of a historian of denim, so much so that Lee requested him to design something for their 125th anniversary. With summer on its way, we took a few minutes to chat with the North Carolina-born and Virginia-raised designer about the Dos and Don’ts of the fabric he loves: denim.
When purchasing a new pair of raw Japanese jeans, I recommend buying a waist size that’s relatively snug. Japanese selvedge fabrication gives a little at the waistband by at least one size after wearing. It might take a few wears for them to relax and fit the way you want them to, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you must wash your jeans, put them inside out in cold water to keep the bulk of the personal character you have developed on your jean. This will optimize the high/low effect over time. After washing, make sure to lay them out flat to dry.
If your jeans have developed a smell and you don’t want to wash them, hang them out the window over night to air out and stuff dryer sheets in the pockets. This will maintain the odor to a minimum. The odor actually comes from dry skin cells rubbing off of your body.
When taking your raw jeans off at night before bed, fold your jeans over in halves. This prevents the wrinkled, out-of-bed, creased look when you put them on the next morning. Also, consider hanging them up and letting them air out a bit.
To kill off bacteria without washing your jeans, pop them in the freezer for a few days. This won’t kill all of the bacteria, but a once-a-month pop in the freezer should keep you golden for a while.
Do not wash your jeans until after the first year of wear, and if you’re brave enough, never wash them. The original miners weren’t running to a local laundromat or dry cleaner every week to wash their clothes. Instead, they lived in them as though they were a second skin. If you can’t wait that long, at least wait until the blue starts to wear off the back of the knees.
If you’ve bought a raw pair of jeans, do not hem them to your perfect inseam length since they will most likely shrink after a wash. Maintain at least two inches to accommodate shrinkage after washing.
If you’re at dinner and an item of unwanted food or drink spills on your raw jeans, don’t panic. This is character building. When spot cleaning, don’t rub too hard as to incur a white spot on the indigo, but just hard enough to reduce the stain’s color intensity.
If you get an unwanted tear in your jeans, don’t throw them out. Take them to the tailor and add a denim patch, which will add a story to your jeans. If you’re getting tears in your crotch, denim with a little stretch — like in black jeans — might be ideal for you.
If you find your jeans are far too long and you need to hem your jeans, don’t go to your local dry cleaner. They typically just cut off your original hem and resew it back on to fake an original hem look. This fools no one. It’s best to spend a few extra dollars and send them out to a denim repair shop that uses a traditional Union Special 43200G hemming machine. This will re-provide the proper roping-wrinkle effect seen on the edge of your hem prior to cutting.