Inside Candiani’s raw denim fade project with the people who made it happen

On the denim scene we regularly see fade projects popping up with raw obsessives and indigo lovers alike, documenting their quest to achieve the perfect fade. While most of these initiatives come from the hard graft of die-hard indigo fans such as Rawr’s Fade Friday’s or the recently launched Denim World Championships, we recently saw a project that shows raw denim being broken-in via the most authentic way possible.


In a new campaign touring fabric fairs this year, premium Italian denim mill Candiani are presenting a special photo exhibition showcasing their factory workers breaking in their denim. Premiered at Munich Fabric Start’s Bluezone fair last month, the photographs capture their specialist weavers, dye technicians and finishers putting their selvedge to the test.

The six month project saw the fabrics go through all the hard work and graft you’d expect from factory life accumulating rips, tears, oil spills and everything in between on the way. The results were pretty impressive. Photographer and Candiani Creative Director Giorgio Figini was on hand to shoot each of the workers at work in their raws, all of which were accompanied with a tag highlighting their name, job and time worn.


We spoke to Candiani Marketing Manager – and all round denim dude – Simon Giuliani to find out more about the project…

Can you tell us about the concept of the exhibition?
As it has become a big deal in the denim industry to re-create artificially the look of distressed vintage jeans, we thought we might do the opposite. So we equipped 10 of our people who carry out the heavy duty tasks with raw jeans and asked to wear them for six months in order to engage a natural ageing process of the garments. The result is a series of distressed jeans. The fabric carries marks of the hard work behind the creation and production of the fabric itself. A fun way to show how our fabrics age by involving the people who actually “make it happen”.


Quite often we see these wear projects carried out on in raw denim competitions across the world. What was the inspiration to bring it in house and use your own factory workers?
I love to involve the people working in Candiani at any level into the creative process in order to stimulate them and to create a common sensation of achievement. Sales and marketing people are constantly in touch with clients and the market, and every time a client is happy and satisfied this recharges our motivational batteries. It is also necessary the people working in production experience the positive feedback from our clients in order to perceive their importance in the process.

This project is a fun way to put them into the limelight and to let them enjoy the positive feedback. At the same time we wanted to do something different from the usual commercial laundry treatments and engage a natural ageing process of the jeans demonstrating how Candiani Denim fabrics age “for real” when worn in.


How many workers were involved and what was the brief given out to the selected group?
10 and we already have 10 more people starting this fall with the second round. They were simply asked to wear the jeans as long as possible without washing them. When they reached the limit, we washed them in our in-house Development Center (laundry).

Can you tell us the type of denim each of the workers were wearing?
SL 7201 Sioux Preshrunk: Comfort Stretch Selvedge Denim.The open weave construction and the natural ring effect of the yarns make this the most authentic looking fabric. Sioux is an extremely versatile medium-dark Indigo shade with a red cast. Sioux is one of the renowned Candiani Signature Colours.

RR 5531 Yesterday Glass: Comfort Stretch Denim. Compact construction with a natural ring character and clean look. Yesterday is a single-dip 100% Indigo shade with a red cast. We create the colour Yesterday with our special Indigo Juice dyeing technology which eases the fade down of Indigo in order to accelerate the ageing process. The finishing Glass is a transparent coating that confers shininess to the fabric. Therefore it enhances the indigo-white contrast in points of distress.

RR 9601 Drake Crispy: Comfort Stretch Denim. High density, compact construction with an authentic ring effect. Drake is a dark double-dip Indigo shade with a red cast. Drake is one of the renowned Candiani Signature Colors. Finished for an authentic denim look.


Obviously the workers were doing pretty heavy duty work in the jeans. How often were they allowed to wash and repair the jeans?
As denim is your second skin, some workers butcher it quicker than others and so we had a few jeans repaired more often than others. In 6 months time we washed the jeans max two times. It’s funny to know that the wife of one guy was so shocked by the conditions of the jeans, she washed them and applied big patches to mend the holes. Too bad she covered all the beautifully distressed parts but, you know…Italian women.


Were there any pairs that had particularly notable wear?
Depending on the department each worker added specific details to the jeans. A few examples…

Maurizio Cesco, Dyeing Dept: Very defined whiskers and color drops below the knee.

Christian Sbergo, Finishing Dept & Workshop: soot of the high temperature machines in the finishing, grease and grime from welding conferred a natural black coating to the jeans. The predominant use of the right knee led to breakage in that area.

Diego Gualdoni, Weaving Dept: Diego is one of the mechanics working on the looms. Knees and crotch are the most stressed points. The jeans present heavy fading and breakages in those areas.


The Candiani photo exhibition will touring fabric trade shows across Europe for the S/S 17 season this year. Keep your eyes peeled for details.

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