Unsanforized denim has not been treated by sanforization, a common process in which fabrics are pre-shrunk before they are sewn into finished garments. As such, we highly recommend soaking unsanforized jeans in water to remove shrinkage prior to wearing them. Skipping this initial soak will result in a jean that may fit perfectly at first, but will shrink to an unwearable size upon their eventual wash.
Sanforized denim is generally preferred for its ease of sizing and clean, uniform look. Unsanforized denim, however, offers a more customized fit: after a soak, the fabric molds better to the wearer’s body instead of simply stretching out over time. And for some, the unprocessed hand and texture of unsanforized denim is preferred.
“Kibata” is the Japanese word for “loomstate,” and it’s where our unsanforized jeans get their name. Our denim is completely untouched once it comes off the shuttle loom; no additional processing is performed on the fabric before it is shipped to us. This means that the fabric will show more nuanced character over time as it’s worn in.
Unlike sanforized denim, which should fit snugly to the waist to account for stretch over time, unsanforized jeans should start slightly loose to account for the shrinkage. When purchasing our Kibata jeans, keep in mind that the presoak can cause the jeans to shrink up to 1.5" in the waist and 2" in length depending on the water temperature. Consider sizing down if you have over 2" of room in the waist before the soak.
In other words, you should purchase the Kibata jean size that measures 1–1.5" larger in the waist than your actual waist measurement. The aim is for the jeans to fit snugly around the waist post-soak. Make sure you also have about .25” of allowance in the thigh and knee.
Here are some basic steps on how to presoak your jeans. Start by turning the jeans inside out.
Fill your tub with water for the initial soak. (If you don’t have access to a tub, a large basin will do.) The temperature of the water is very important, as it determines the extent to which your jeans will shrink. You’ll lose 0.75–1" in the waist with cold water, 1.25" with lukewarm water, and up to 1.5" in hot water. Keep in mind that the inseam will also shrink 1–2" after the initial soak.
We advise starting with cold water if you’re unsure of how much shrinkage you want. Once the process is complete, you can always repeat the soak with warmer water for more shrinkage. If you're looking for maximum shrinkage from the first soak, use hot water from the faucet.
Make sure that each part of the jean is completely under water. Leave the jeans in the water for 15 to 45 minutes depending on how much shrinkage you’re looking to achieve. It’s safest to start with a 15 minute soak; after the jeans have dried, you can always resoak the jeans in warmer water for a longer duration.
You may find that filling a few jars or glass bottles will help the jeans stay submerged during the soak.
Once the jeans are dry, put them on and check the fit. The jeans should now be snug in the waist and tighter in the thighs (if they are still slightly loose in these areas, you may want to consider a another soak with warmer water). The inseam will now be 1–2" shorter, but the jeans may still require a hem.