I’ve been told by first time visitors to Jean Shop that what’s holding them back from trying raw denim is the high maintenance of it all. The possibility of ruining a pair of jeans by using a basic washing machine is a turn-off.
Putting your jeans in the washing machine won’t cause them to dissolve into thin air (or, water?) or damage the jeans. It will halt the natural ageing process, which is what those who avoid washing are trying to prevent. The longer you wait before you give your jeans their first wash, the more defined the wear pattern will be, and the better they will fit you. As raw denim breaks in, the soften up and mold to your body. The more time it has to do that, the more customized your jeans will feel when you put them on.
For those of you who aren’t interested in honeycombing, pocket impressions, and naturally formed holes, you can give your jeans a cold water wash(by hand or in a machine) and hang dry them.
For those of you who are interested in watching your jeans age, you should check out Denim Debate. They’ve got a great line-up of people taking that exact route, with great tips on making it through the break-in process.