A good pair of jeans screams classic American wardrobe staple and yes, everyone wears them. They have no boundary or specific customer and can be purchased at any price point. . They aren’t just a #menswear thing, they’re an everyone thing. The godfather of denim, Levi Strauss, moved to San Fransisco in the mid 1800’s, partnered with tailor Jacob Davis, and decided to create a cloth re-enforced with copper rivets designed to withstand the everyday life of a factory worker. Little did they know that they were creating a piece of clothing history.
Waste overalls dominated much of Strauss business from its original conception. They were mostly worn by workers and cowboys of the west. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that “jeans” became a piece of fashion and identity rather than tool of the trade (thank James Dean for that). Jeans become a sign of social anarchy—often banned from traditional public settings where khaki and dress pants were of the norm. The youth caught on and adopted denim (both pant and jacket) as a part of their anti-establishment voice and slowly mainstreamed society deemed it a socially accepted article of clothing.
Inevitably, jeans went through “phases” (as does everything). The 70’s brought us disco and with it bell bottoms, 80’s were a time for the glued on looking rock n roll denim (that left nothing to the imagination- if you know what I’m saying) , and the 90’s were full of acid rock, “dad” jeans- colored sequined denim, and super-models sporting what was the real “birth” of designer denim, Calvin Klein.
Fast forward to today. Denim has become the staple of every man’s closet (no, not in the way that you think). There has been and will continue to be jeans made for heavy work. However, their a new breed of men who are actually starting to take denim seriously. It’s not just a “I need a pair of jeans and I’ll just buy whatever off the racks”. Instead, men are taking a closer look at the fit, wash, and fade process as key ingredients that go into a perfect pair . Most denim today comes from two different parts of the world, Japan and the United States (with dozens more varying throughout). Here in the states we’re starting to see companies popping up all over, designing and producing hand-crafted denim. Baldwin, Imogene + Willie, Levi’s Made and Crafted, Raleigh, Noble Denim, 3sixteen, Rogue Territory, are just a few to name. It’s without a doubt an exciting time to see some-what of a birth of a new and thoughtful produced denim.
I’ve always considered the wear and fade process of denim to be an art form. Certain jeans fetch hundreds, even thousands of dollars on eBay. Original Levi’s will fetch ten times that amount. I’ve been writing on menswear for over a year now and we all some-what agree on our “favorite designers”. However, one conversation that always seems to dive deeper is the discussion on denim jeans. There’s no “real right pair” that we all will collectively agree upon. The conversation is consistently evolving. This month I reached out to some of our favorite creators, designers, and fashion directors in the industry. The topic: What makes a great pair of jeans and what’s your go-to? What we got was an array of thoughts, opinions, and a concise point that fit is key! Read below to see what each had to say. A special thanks to Jake, Sam, Nick, Josh, Anya, Justin, and Eric- we greatly appreciate all you did for this piece!
Eric Jennings: Saks, VP & Fashion Director, Menswear, Home, Food, and Gifts “First and foremost it’s all about the fit. Find the brand that fits you the best. Once you’ve found that, half the work is done. Start with clean, dark and straight denim. Then layer on different colors, washes and other treatments to keep your style interesting. There is a reason premium denim costs what it does. I’ve been to the design rooms, factories and washes where they make the best denim in the U.S. right now. The number of steps that goes into one pair of premium denim jeans is mind boggling. In the end you get what you pay for: the best fitting, longest lasting and most flattering pair of jeans on your body. People will notice, trust me. My go to is J Brand’s Kane fit and Nudie’s Grim Tim fit.”