Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus Latta

Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus Latta

Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus Latta | The Cutting Class. Styles 'Baggy Jean Chemtrail' and 'Wide Led Jean Tri Stacked' from the AW19 collection.
Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus Latta, ‘Baggy Jean Chemtrail’ and ‘Wide Leg Jean Tri Stacked’ from the AW19 collection.

There are some collections that are nicely layered with different colours and textures, but the layering on the catwalk can sometimes hide exactly what’s going on with all the fabrics and details. This is the case with some of the bleached jeans at Eckhaus Latta. In the catwalk looks, you feel you want to appreciate the styling of the models as whole looks, to see how the designs and styling create the individual characters. Now that the garments are starting to hit retail sites though, you can appreciate the actual processes at play.

Base Garment for Minimums

First off, these sorts of bleached denim effects are a good option for smaller designers who are thinking of clever ways to hit minimums (i.e. the minimum required production quantity that a factory will take on as an order). Not to say that it is necessarily the case here – these two styles appear to be different cuts of jeans – but it’s a clever approach to make up a base style with a tried-and-true pattern in a plain colour and then apply different dye or embroidery effects as needed to split one base garment into multiple different designs, quantities and price points.

Eckhaus Latta Bleached Denim Effects

In terms of actual processes used for the Eckhaus Latta denim, these two styles appear to be created with different bleaching and overdyeing techniques.

The first style ‘Baggy Jean Chemtrail’ looks like it may possibly be created by applying bleach in a zigzag pattern. At a guess, it looks as though the bleach was applied, in this case, on cut pieces of denim before the jeans were assembled. This guess is based on the fact that the bleach pattern changes slightly as it goes over the seams. Otherwise, the garments may be fully assembled as black jeans first, and then the bleach may be applied to the finished garment.

For this style, it then looks as though the garments have been overdyed to add a yellow tint to any orangey areas, and to tint white areas to a lemon colour. If you have ever bleached your hair, it’s a similar idea; you use a bleach to lighten the base material, and then you can use a separate dye colour to tone the bleach.

Bleached Jeans at Eckhaus Latta | The Cutting Class. AW19. Black jeans with zigzag bleack effect, possibly overdyed.
Bleach applied on dry fabric can more easily create squiggly effects. Different bleaches on different fabics will affect the halo colour.
Bleaching denim will have different effects depending on if thick, thin or diluted bleach is used and if applied to wet or dry fabric. Eckhaus Latta, AW19.
'Baggy Jean Chemtrail' Eckhaus Latta style shows how bleaching denim often results in an orange or peach tone.

The second style of bleached jeans at Eckhaus Latta, ‘Wide Leg Jean Tri Stacked’ is broken up into three different areas. In this case, you can imagine that black jeans may be made as a base style. The black jeans could then have the top third dipped into a bleach solution, and then separately the bottom third could also be dipped into bleach. Once the bottom third is lightened, this could then be hand-painted with red stripes of dye or paint.

'Wide Leg Jean Tri Stacked' Eckhaus Latta style has is bleached at the top to create a peachy colour.
'Wide Leg Jean Tri Stacked' Eckhaus Latta style has bleached hem detail with hand painted red stripes.
Manufacturing plain styles allows designers to hit production minimums and then alter the base garment with different effects.

Bleaching Denim

If you are creating bleached effects on a small sampling level, or on your own clothes, and want to experiment with different ideas, then there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Consider the base cloth colour.
  • Try thick and thin bleach.
  • Diluted / undiluted bleach solutions.
  • Apply to wet or dry cloth.
  • Bleaching the whole garment vs. in patterns.
  • Consider the halo effect.
  • Consider how the garment is finally rinsed, washed and dried.

Depending on the colour of the base cloth, the bleach will react differently and you will end up with different colours. Bleaching will not necessarily just turn a garment white, often bleaching will result in other tones such as orange or yellow.

If you are bleaching the whole garment, then that may result in one effect uniformly across the whole cloth, or you can just dip sections of the garment, or slowly raise or lower a garment into the solution to create gradient effects. Be aware that sometimes you will also end up with a halo effect if the bleach is not covering the whole garment. For example, where the edge of the bleach meets the unbleached fabric this may be a different tone.

If you are looking for bleach to use yourself, you can often experiment with household bleaches designed for laundry or even cleaning purposes. These often come in thick and thin consistencies, so you can experiment with these to get patterns. For example, a thick bleach can be squirted on in patterns and will hold the outline better, whereas a thin bleach would soak into the cloth more and bleed.

These results will also be altered depending on whether the base cloth is wet or dry before the bleach is applied, as the wet base cloth will encourage the bleach to bleed to a softer outline around the edges.

Finally, consider how you want to rinse and wash the garment so that the bleach doesn’t stay active. The key is really to be consistent and make a note of what you have done if you want the results to be repeated later. You may also want to test how the fabric is dried. Some bleaching tutorials suggest that the bleach may become more yellow if the garment is dried in a tumble dryer, as opposed to be air-dried. Of course, this may also be affected by how well the garment has been cleaned before it is dried, as residual bleach could be affected by the high heat of a tumble dryer.

Bleach / Dye Effects in Order of Construction

You should also consider at what stage you want the bleaching to be used. Do you want it on the finished garment? Will the thread also be bleached, or is the thread resistant to dye?

Also, if you are sampling particularly difficult garments, you can apply effects at different stages of the construction if it is easier. This won’t always be appropriate for larger-scale production runs where you want to keep costs down, because of the extra time and labour. But it may be possible to apply certain details after garment dye effects, so that, for example, the buttons and rivets of the jeans are not damaged by the bleach. Or sewing one last seam to close up a garment, if the bleach effect needs to be applied while garment is flatter.

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Consider too how bleach can weaken the fabric. Of course holes in jeans are perfectly acceptable but in certain locations weak fabric can be a problem.

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