Most women are familiar with the "break-in" period for new purchases, whether it's a week of blisters to turn a pair of steel-jaw traps into wearable heels or a month of stiffness to turn that straightjacket into a leather jacket. In the whole wide world of things that need to be broken in to become an everyday essential, selvage denim probably tops the pain-to-gain charts. The raw, unwashed denim is a big menswear staple (which women also wear), and can feel like sandpaper the first time you try them on. But, through weeks of rubbing and pinching, the jeans eventually mold to fit your body, and develop the kind of honeycombs and whiskering that make selvage fanatics swoon. And sure, sandblasting and chemical treatments can produce similar effects, but there's that whole "poisoning the oceans" thing that doesn't happen when you break pants in on your own.
But, it turns out that you don't even have to do that. U.K. brand Hiut is offering up pants that are pre-worn by 50 "denim breakers," who soften them up over the course of a few months, and then professionally cleaned. And, trust — they need a good cleaning. Said "breaker" Cameron Stewart to The Guardian, "I wore them every single day for six months. I cycled to work every day. I went to the rugby in them with my thermals underneath. They got soaked in the cold and rain, and so they spent a lot of time hanging and drying above a radiator. One day, when it was warm, I went and lay on the beach in them. I went to the supermarket in them, I cooked in them, I drank in them. I also carved spoons in them so by the end they were pretty covered in wood shavings."
By the time it gets to you, the hard part is over with, which defeats the purpose for some selvage loyalists, but is a huge draw for those who don't want to contend with crotch chafing for a good-looking pair of pants. The Denim Breaker Club is similar to the trade-in programs other high-end brands already have (for instance, A.P.C.'s Butler program lets you trade in your worn pair of selvages for half-off a brand-new pair — in turn, they sell your old pants to those seeking a pre-worn look), but Hiut Denim's unique backstory (the brand is resurrecting the denim industry in its small home town and creating jobs) and small-batch manufacturing sets it apart.
The jeans are being auctioned off today, and will probably go for much higher than their raw-denim pricing of £230 (about $360 US), so keep checking back on the site for updates.