It’s not much fun wearing cardboard trousers. But it’s worth the pain.

This time last year I bought a pair of jeans from Jean Shop on West Broadway, New York. A friend had recommended the place to me, but to be honest I was largely taken in by the technical terms and stylish furnishing – piles of raw denim draped over rails around the shop, interspersed by various efforts in coloured leather: jackets, wallets etc.

As casual clothes are not my specialist subject, all the talk of Japanese denim, rinsing, raw wearing and dying oils went a little over my head. But the assistant claimed he wore one pair of these jeans every day of the year. That he had bought the pair he was wearing two years ago and never bought another. I think that might even have been the reason he decided to get a job there.

Most of the jeans sold are raw denim. This means that when you first wear them they will feel like cardboard – stiff, awkward and, well, crunchy. After a few days of wearing them in they will soften. After a few weeks they will feel comfortable and seem to fit really well. A year later they will be like a second skin.

The advantage of raw denim is that, unlike pretreated or prewashed jeans, the cotton adapts itself to your own particular shape and activities. It molds to you. This appeals to me as a fan of made-to-measure clothes generally – except that here the trousers adapt to you rather than being made for you.

An investment in a great pair of jeans also appeals to my thriftiness – one pair of classic, straight dark jeans can be worn with almost anything and won’t wear out for years. Jean Shop jeans aren’t that cheap – between $250 and $290. But then they’re not the most expensive either.

I’m wearing my pair today and have done half the time I’ve been in New York. Unlike some of my recommendations (I have yet to buy a suit from Suit Supply, as one reader pointed out. Though I am eager to hear anyone else’s experience) this one is fully tested. I went back to Jean Shop yesterday and it was just as cool – plus this time I knew a little more about the product, having done my own research. I bought exactly the same pair as mine (albeit an inch smaller on the waist) for my brother. I’m sure he’ll love them as much as me.

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Never be seen in Jeans

Horatio

I wore Levi’s 501 jeans throughout my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. They were never expensive, lasted forever, and were always in style.

Now that I have grown up and acquired adult tastes, I no longer own even one pair of jeans, though would buy more Levi’s if I were to take up camping again. They would also be great pants for yardwork.

I think of jeans as cheap and functional, so just can’t fathom why anyone would pay so much for a pair. Even worse is the custom of not washing them!

Having said that, if you’re happy with what you bought–if they’re worth that much to you–that’s OK with me. I hope you get many years of enjoyment from your new jeans.

piyu1154

you are not into jeans culture while denimheads are…the same with people who are not interested in clothes they can just buy everything at a thrift shop or Marks and Spencer and be happy. Levi’s iconic jeans have very good fits but there are other brands with superior denim textile and construction.

Eli

As someone who sells designer denim for a living I’d be very interested in finding out what pair of jeans Simon bought. You have to be careful when buying raw denim because if it’s cheaply made then it will not break in as nicely and can lead to chaffing. I always recommend the Levi’s 501 Deadstock Replica. They’re the original post-WWII Levi 501 with the double stitch “V” on the back pocket and were made famous in the 1951 Marlon Brando film “The Wild Ones”. If you’re a real denim head you’re supposed to sit in the bathtub in luke-warm water for about 15-20 minutes to get them to shrink to your size which is why when buying this pair always go an inch or two up from your normal size (which is contrary to all other instances when buying denim where the rule is ‘don’t be a clown, size down’ – especially with raw denim!!). If you want your raws to break in faster, spray them with a little starch once or twice a week. This helps the creases to set and the extra stiffness expedites the indigo running process.

Jeans are the uniform of my generation I think more so than my parents’ (baby boomer) generation because nowadays jeans are not only casual attire but semi-formal wear as well. There is a jean made for every situation be it for what they were originally made for viz. manual labour or for a semi-formal function.

That said, if your denim isn’t raw you can wash it, just make sure you do so as rarely as possible and always wash them inside out in cold water with limited detergent and let them hang dry. That way you ensure that the indigo doesn’t fade out too quickly and you reduce the chance of them ripping early on due to the friction and heat of the drying machine which will thin out the cotton in your denim and make it brittle.

Wear your jeans proudly, and never settle for less. A designer jean, if made well costs $200 plus because you get what you pay for.

Phil Friedman

Jeans are work pants. Anyone who says otherwise is confused. With designer denim, you don’t get what you pay for, except in the sense that you pay for a label. Eli is an idiot.

Patrick

I bought a pair of 28″ Rockers 2 years ago from the Jeans Shop on West Broadway and am still very pleased with them. In addition, I have a made to measure suit from Suit Supply on Vigo Street, London which I am also very pleased with.

Anonymous

😛

mrx5000

Phil’s getting a little hot under the collar, there. Maybe his JC Penney pleat slacks are too tight.

Wayne

you really must visit the Jean Shop in the meat packing district…run by some cool dudes who insist on a tequila chaser for every virgin “Jean” shop virgin. Oh and the jeans are pretty cool too! great experience and fantastic choice…just a shame nobody retails jeans the same way in the UK.

Wayne

and have now bought 2 suits from suit supply and am delighted with the fit. for the price I think they cannot be beaten…being tall and slim, its a nightmare getting anything off the oeg to fit well, and this solution is very cost effective for me. great choice of cloth’s and styles…just cant understand why anyone would go round the corner and spend £3K on an alternative suit…but I guess I’m not target audience!