Our Shrinkage Manifesto

Our Shrinkage Manifesto

It’s a bummer when brand new clothes shrink after the first wash. Especially when they unexpectedly shrink to the point that it’s no longer your size, or when it shrinks in really weird places.  In the last eight years we’ve learned about shrinkage the hard way, as we’ve worked to eliminate this problem for our customers. We’re a small but uniformly picky company, especially when it comes to making sure your hard earned money isn’t wasted on something that no longer fits.

Fabric shrinkage comes with the territory when we’re building our small batch originals. Natural fibers – the kind we use 99% of the time – shrink more than synthetic ones. And even fabric you’d think wouldn’t shrink – like our beautiful American Made waxed canvas – shrinks substantially on the roll in the first few weeks, as it cures. (It’s called atmospheric shrinkage, and it’s a real thing – we kid you not.)

Over the seasons, we’ve worked tirelessly to learn the nuances of shrinkage, fabric by fabric. Here’s what we’ve learned and how it benefits you.

#1: Meet our Goal by Pre-shrinking at the Fabric Level

Customers say that the more the style – after several home washes (per our label directions) – closely matches the “out of the box” fit, the more confident they feel that they bought the right size. So our number one goal is to create finished styles that shrink less – by shrinking the fabric before it’s sewn – even if it takes more time and costs a bit more. That way, when a style does shrink post-purchase, it shrinks predictably, and a lot less. Every new 2024 style is built that way.

#2 Test. Test. And Test Again.

We shrink-test each fabric extensively before we finalize a particular fabric for a style. We even shrink test the same fabric type we’ve been using on a current style when we buy a new batch of fabric, just because we’re paranoid that way. We’ve learned the hard way that a “belt and suspenders” approach is the safest way to not have any surprises.

Here’s what we look for:

  • If the fabric isn’t washable (like waxed canvas), what is the ideal time to wait between manufacturing and use of the roll to allow for the maximum “atmospheric shrinkage”?
  • For washable fabrics, does the fabric shrink at the dye house under different washing and dyeing scenarios, straight off the roll?
  • Is the fabric still as strong, abrasion resistant and breathable post-wash as it was pre-wash?
  • Is it still as “dimensionally stable” (still maintaining its original “good” properties, including its shape) after a hearty hot wash?
Once the fabric passes our rigorous testing, and has been pre-washed and dyed to our specs, we sew up samples, then test again:
  • Does the fabric uniformly shrink, or does it shrink unpredictably?
  • Are our “out of the box” specs for our samples close to the same specs once we’ve home washed them a few times following the label instructions?
  • Can a customer have confidence in how much the style will shrink after a few washes, and where?

#3 Be Exact

Some guys are fine with an “ish” fit, while others are extremely exact in the fit they want. So we aim to be as precise as our most particular customers. Your eyes may glaze over when you look at the numbers on our Fit Guides, but others appreciate our precision measurements on the ⅛ inch – and the fact that we tell you (based on multiple data points) that your shirt will still shrink ¼ inch more in the chest and ⅛ inch more in the sleeves after home washing.

#4 Help our Customers Learn to Care for their Clothes

While some of you have a mom who taught you to use the washer and dryer when you were ten, others might be in the clueless category when it comes to caring for your clothes. We offer some laundry tips and tricks that will keep your clothes looking great for many years to come. If you missed the long version, here’s the short version:

  • Always default to the care and content tag sewn into your Devium clothes before washing them. Our tags are written in plain English – just follow the damn directions.
  • Always default to washing your clothes less rather than more. Don’t wash a pair of pants after only a single light wear unless they’re actually dirty. Don’t wash your loads in hot water. As far as wash-time goes, the “quick wash” setting on new washing machines is usually more than enough. Use a light pour with the laundry detergent.
  • And, we beg you, don’t overdry your clothes. We know some of you actually hang dry your clothes (we salute you!). For the others, just dry things on low or extra-low and take them out of the dryer when the clothes are still warm, then shake and fold.

#5 Get Better Every Season

We love our customers for appreciating our USA made small batch styles, so we continue to experiment and learn more about the nuances of shrinkage, season by season. While it may be impossible to eliminate shrinkage entirely, we’ll continue to find ways to make it as un-noticeable as possible.  When things do shrink, we’ll make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before purchasing and washing any of our clothes.

If you have questions about fit or shrinkage, feel free to shoot us an email at lifelong@deviumusa.com, text us, or just call. 

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