Lily Schoknecht, a vintage reseller and TikTok user who goes by the name “bug318_”, shared a tip for denim lovers looking for a solution to too-tight jeans. Adopted from her grandmother, the tip involves showering or bathing in a pair of snug jeans, wearing them around the house for about 30 minutes, and removing them to air dry for the remainder of the time. The end result, she says, is a pair of better-fitting jeans.
She explained best practices for achieving the perfect fit, such as letting them soak for two or three minutes before exiting the shower or bath, patting them dry with a towel so they’re not dripping wet, and performing squats and lunges while wearing them to create an even more relaxed fit. She added that, moving forward, jeans should not be placed in the dryer after washing in order to maintain the new fit.
Schoknecht shared the tip on her account on March 14, and as of April 20, the post received more than 818,200 likes and 27,500 shares.
The hack resonates with younger generations that grew up with stretch denim and are less familiar with rigid fabric. However, the tip is actually the basis of Levi’s 501 Original Shrink-To-Fit Jeans. In a 2018 blog post, Levi’s recommended buying jeans that fit snug around the waist and were slightly longer than needed, and wearing them in a warm bath for 30 minutes. When finished soaking, jeans should remain on until they’re dry. Doing so, it said, would help achieve the perfect fit.
The post’s viral fame is a signal to the rest of the industry that consumers—specifically Gen Z—are hungry for methods of extending the lifecycle of their jeans. A material originally intended to withstand harsh conditions, denim is built to last. A number of denim supply chain partners and startups have rallied around the cause, developing solutions to help maintain denim’s rugged durability and innately long lifecycle. BioRestore, a Swedish laundry solution that enhances the condition of worn clothing, was one of the winners selected for H&M Foundation’s latest Global Change Awards. In one wash, the technology reportedly removes lint and revives color, shape and hand feel to make old garments feel and look new again.
In 2020, Rudolf Group’s Hub 1922 introduced Washless Denim, a combination of two existing technologies, Bionic-Finish Eco and Silverplus, that together help reduce the need for domestic washing. Bionic-Finish Eco is a system of macroscopic branches that attach to the fiber and help restrict liquid droplets—be it an accidental spill or a sneeze—from penetrating the fabric. Silverplus is a “micro-structured element” coated with metallic silver, which controls odor-causing bacteria.