Why We Think You Should Test Your Might in the World’s Biggest Denim Fading Competition

In the spring of 2019, SOSO became the first denim brand to sign on as a sponsor of the Indigo Invitational. When we joined, the denim fading competition was only a few days old. It was a small but passionate group of a few dozen denim enthusiasts who wanted to challenge each other to see who could produce the most beautiful fades in 365 days.

Unlike brand-sponsored fade contests, the Indigo Invitational was independent and wide open.
All brands and weights were welcome.  The only rule was that the jeans had to be raw and brand new on day one of the competition. They didn’t have any prizes yet when we reached out to them, so we offered to help them put a carrot on the end of the stick.

The competition began in earnest a few months later, and by that time, word had started to spread. A dozen brands had sponsored the competition with prizes, and 115 faders from all over the world were lined up on the starting line in brand new pairs. After a year of fading, the winners were announced, with Indonesia’s Muhammed Rizky taking first prize for his beautifully faded 25oz Samurais.

Fades like these caught the attention of denimheads all over the world, and more than 850 faders joined the competition for its second year. SOSO was back as the banner sponsor, this time hanging a very big carrot on the end of the stick: a trip to Japan, complete with airfare and hotels.

We support the Indigo Invitational because they are unlike any other fading contest out there.
They are the largest and most-inclusive denim fading competition in the world, and they’ve worked hard to remain independent. If you’re considering joining Year Three of the competition, here are a few reasons we think that you should take the plunge.

The Indigo Invitational Helps You Do Justice to Your Jeans

Raw denim represents a considerable investment. While you might be able to find enough change between your couch cushions to get you into an inexpensive mass-market pair, raw denim costs a little more. As we’ve argued elsewhere, this investment is more than worthwhile.

But the investment doesn’t make financial sense if you don’t do justice to your jeans. Raw denim is meant to be worn every day, day after day, for hundreds of days in a row. At the end of this process, the denim is scored and scarred in the top block, behind the knees, and above the cuffs. It still feels heavy, but it is supple and butter soft. We don’t get to experience this unless we dedicate ourselves to a pair, and the Indigo Invitational incentivises this commitment.

**A pair of 25oz SOSOs after 365 days in the Indigo Invitational**

Those who do the best in the competition remain disciplined. They don’t rotate through multiple pairs.
They wear one pair for the entire year. When they cross the line, they can look down at their pair and know that they’ve wrung every drop of value out of their investment. They’ve done justice to their jeans.

The Indigo Invitational Turns Fading into a Group Activity

While some of us are lucky enough to live in thriving urban centres like Stockholm, New York, or Jakarta where denim lovers congregate, these denim hubs are few and far between. For most of us, denim fading is a largely solitary activity. Even in the online spaces dedicated to denim love, everybody is on their own fade journey, which might align with our own journey, but usually it doesn’t.

**Denim love is best when shared – Picture from Long John**

The Indigo Invitational turns this on its head. The competition turns the often-solitary fade journey into a joint venture. Hundreds of faders start the competition with a brand-new pair on the same day. Some fast faders pull away from the pack, and some slow faders fall behind, but, between the front and back of the pack, there’s a massive group—hundreds of faders strong—where new and experienced faders jog shoulder to shoulder.

**Some beautiful mid-pack fades from Indonesia**

In this middle pack, progress is slow but steady. It’s a game of patience and endurance.
Competitors encourage each other and, after 365 days, they finish the competition the same way they started it—together.

The Indigo Invitational is a Judgement-Free Community Where New Faders Can Learn the

If you find the prospect of competing against the world’s best denim faders a little intimidating, you can put those fears to bed without their supper. The competition features a spirit of conviviality and camaraderie that makes it feel like more of a community than a competition.
There’s no jostling for position or smack talk. Instead, there’s open and judgement-free discussions about washing techniques, fade recipes, and raw denim styling..

If you’re new to raw denim, the Indigo Invitational is a perfect introduction to the world of selvedge and fading. It’s essentially like being thrown into the deep end of the pool, but there are experienced swimmers and lifeguards everywhere you look. Even the top faders in the competition seem keen to share information and help their fellow competitors bring the absolute best out of their pairs. There’s really nothing like it out there.


We’ll be returning as sponsors for Year Three of the Indigo Invitational, which starts in April of 2022, and we want to encourage you to join the competition with your brand-new pair of raw SOSOs. It’s the best way to do justice to your jeans, and you won’t find a better or more supportive community of denimheads anywhere.
If you have any questions about the competition, you can find all the info you need on the competition’s website, and if you want to ask us what pair we think will give you the best chances of a podium finish, you can reach out to us here.

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