Jeans are often considered a generic product, so ubiquitous in our wardrobes that they’re the single most widely-worn garment on the planet. As such, to invest in a pair can, to some, still seem a little excessive. But for those obsessed with jeans – and there are some real obsessives out there – this is to ignore the fact that denim is a speciality cloth which, while easy to mass-produce in basic form, is really an artisanal one when traditional and time-intensive techniques of weaving, cutting and indigo dyeing are applied.
What Differentiates The Best Jeans Brands?
You’d be hard pressed to find a clothing brand that doesn’t sell a pair of jeans. Everything from H&M to Dolce & Gabbana will offer takes on denim, with the price tag varying drastically. But so will the quality. High street brands often look to cut corners when it comes to production, which is how they keep prices so low. But designer jeans don’t necessarily equate to quality either, as you’ll more often than not be paying for the brand name. When after the best bang for your buck, and a level of construction that is second to none, you’ll want to turn to brands that base their entire collections around denim.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers
Why bother buying from one of these specialist jeans-makers? Authenticity is one gain: they tend to make their jeans as they were made pre-1960s – when the commodification of jeans really began – using rickety old looms and laborious, typically chemical-free methods. Selvedge is one such detail the best jeans brands opt for, the result of which tends to make for a vastly superior raw denim cloth, one of greater durability and, over time, character. And such a longer lasting garment is, almost by definition, a more sustainable one. Add in other details: cotton thread, chain stitching, felled seams, copper rivets and these denim specialists’ products can be hard to beat.
The Best Jeans Brands In The World
Founder Levi Strauss was, in effect, the inventor of the five-pocket western jeans style, back in 1873. Today, Levi’s endlessly imitated 501 model is arguably the benchmark style.
Still the best option for affordable jeans, the brand also has its Levi’s Vintage Clothing line, offering more upscale and period-specific cuts. It’s the vintage pairs – denoted by the big ‘E’ on that famed red pocket tag – that denim collectors happily pay sometimes thousands for.
It’s British, and it’s co-founded by a woman (in what is quite a male world) – but these aren’t the only characteristics of the Brighton-based Dawson Denim.
Yes, the brand – launched by Kelly Dawson and Scott Ogden – uses Japanese selvedge fabrics for its hand-made jeans, but it’s also refined its own fits, such as its signature wide leg jeans. Its black denim jeans are especially notable.
Naked & Famous
If a classic cut or heritage style of jeans is not for you, Canadian brand Naked & Famous is there to offer something different – a mega-heavyweight 32oz pair perhaps, or a denim blended with linen, or in a simultaneously left and right hand twill that gives a subtle chequerboard pattern.
Some ideas are pure novelty (a scratch ‘n’ sniff denim anyone?), but Naked & Famous pushes the possibilities for denim, and at a good price too.
Jeans are, at heart, a classic garment – and most men wear styles that reflect that. But that’s not to say there isn’t scope for reinvention, and Dutch brand G-Star’s Elwood model – which borrowed the idea of an articulated knee section from biker trousers and applied it to jeans – is a case in point.
Joss Van Tilburg’s brand has gone on to be among the most progressive in the denim market, notably for its driving the use of organic and recycled denim.
London clothing factory owner Hans Ates was so dismayed by a pair of jeans he bought that he decided to create his own brand, keeping it small and local, while bringing back some long-forgotten denim construction details, the likes of the one-piece fly.
The company also places an emphasis on transparency – if you’re in north-east London, you’re welcome to call in unannounced and survey the construction process.
Sweden’s little known obsession with denim – it was producing home-grown brands as early as 1966 – is these days best encapsulated by Gothenburg-based Nudie, founded by one-time European design manager for Lee, Maria Erixson.
More fashion-forward than many denim brands, Nudie has also used exclusively organic cotton for its jeans since 2012, and pioneered the idea of offering a free repair service through its shops. When your Nudie jeans really are at the end of the road, Nudie will recycle them into rugs and car seat covers.