My favourite jeans: Bryceland’s, Rubato, Blackhorse Lane, vintage

Wednesday, May 1st 2024
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My favourite jeans largely come from brands that make in Japan, using Japanese denim, but that tweak the fit to make it their own. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they’re also classic-menswear brands, who make or at least appreciate tailoring. 

I've tried a few from more workwear-oriented brands, such as Full Count, and they are great. But little aspects of fit or wash tend to make them not as good on me. I’ve tried to explain why, below, because this is personal. 

My other jeans are vintage - 501s from the 1960s to the 1990s - which is down to two separate factors: colour and pure love of denim.

I have yet to find a light-wash blue jean that I like from a modern brand, as they do have to be industrially washed. And the love of denim means I find it endlessly fascinating finding unique jeans, each of their era and style but also distinctive. This is a deeper involvement with denim that won't be for everyone. 

Here’s a rundown of the jeans I wear, with brief explanations. Related articles on PS include what makes quality in jeans, how to wash and wear raw denim, and the extent to which jeans can be altered and repaired.

Bryceland’s black 933 

Size 32 (normal size, worked after shrink to fit)

These are my favourite jeans right now (above), and have been wearing in beautifully. Initially I got some veining from putting them on too high a spin with the first wash, but that’s fading as the rest of the denim does. 

It’s a softer denim than most, including the other Bryceland’s jeans, which makes them very comfortable, and it has a tendency to go white along seams and wear points quickly. 

The fit is just perfect on me. It’s mid-rise, with a slightly tapered leg, and crucially has a little extra room around the hips. Anyone that has larger thighs will love this - my bane was always jeans that were tight on the thighs but still gaped at the waist, and that was the original reason I went bespoke

Rubato Lot Nr1 denim dark-blue rinse

Size 32 (normal size, once-washed so little shrinkage)

There isn’t much that separates the Rubato and Bryceland’s jeans, in terms of denim or fit. Rubato jeans are similar to the 933 (and 133S) from Bryceland’s, just a very slightly lower rise and a touch less of that fullness on the hips. They’re still a great, modern style that I know works well for lots of people. 

I have a pair of these that’s a few years old (above), and love the blueness of the denim. It’s similar to the original Bryceland’s jean, the 133, and a very classic 501 colour. I was a little unsure on size as the 32 initially felt a little tight, but it gave enough and has proved to be the right choice. 

The main reason I got the Rubato jeans was the fact the Bryceland's 133 was a little too wide in the leg for me. But Bryceland’s now also do the 133S, in the same fit as the 933, and I got a pair recently (size 31, they shrink less) that I’m looking forward to wearing in.

They’re a left-hand twill so should be smoother in the long term, though right now the aspect I notice most is they’re a darker indigo than the Rubato, which can useful style-wise (eg better with black shoes). 

Vintage 1970s Levi’s 501s

No size (but not as relevant with vintage)

For most people, the only reason to go vintage is if they can’t find a light wash they like. There’s a lot of raw or one-wash denim out there, and my favourites are mentioned above. But there’s less washed denim because it’s an industrial process, and so much harder for a small brand to do. I've seen Blackhorse Lane go through that process in the past few years. 

I have yet to find a light-wash from a modern brand I like, and so I’ve bought vintage. Orslow is probably the closest I found, but the fits aren’t great for me. 

My favourite vintage pair is from the 1970s (above), bought at Le Vif in Paris, and I wear them more than any other jean. The quality from that period is as good as any modern maker; they’ve washed out nice and light; and the wear over the decades means they have the unique character that's the added bonus of vintage. 

Blackhorse Lane NW1 ecru jeans

Made to measure

I have two pairs of white jeans (or rather ecru) but at some point I’ll probably switch to something in the Bryceland’s or Rubato fit. I’ve used the made-to-measure service at Blackhorse Lane to good effect, but sometimes it’s hard to know what you really want until you experience it. 

I also have a pair from Drake’s (above) which are good, but it’s a very soft denim and doesn’t age in the way I appreciate in other jeans. The straight pockets with coloured linings are also not ideal. Hopefully it’s all good research for the blog, and for articles like this. 

I'm really looking forward to wearing white jeans again when the weather turns. It's such an easy way to wear paler trousers, and they can easily be dressed down in a cold-colour wardrobe kind of way (as above).

Other vintage

I’ve collected a few other pairs of vintage jeans over the years, all of which are worn less than the seventies pair above, but which I love and are worth listing. I’ve linked to articles below that show them in use. 

1960s blue 501s (above) - My first pair of vintage, the most worn and the most beautiful, but also the most delicate. They’re still wearable, but can’t be worn every day. Something you love as an object as much as a piece of clothing.

1990s black 501s (pictured top) - These are interesting as a demonstration of what ‘lower quality’ denim can be like. It’s smoother, more uniform, and while there’s definitely less character, in some ways it makes them easier to wear with tailoring. Picked up cheap - see article here.

1990s blue 501s (pictured below) - These were bought in research for that article above, but I kept them because they were a good back-up jean. They've proved useful, though I prefer all my others here.

2000s ripped 501s (second image below) - These were also cheap, and I loved how thrashed they were. Originally they came with big patches over the holes in the knees. I took them off, but am still in two minds whether I prefer the look with or without. They’re also the palest jeans I have, which makes them particularly nice in summer.

Lastly, a quick word on the bespoke Levi’s I had made in London years ago, because it says something about fits and fashions. 

I have two pairs, and have covered both their making and the way they have aged. I love them, and still have them. But today, 10 years later, the cut is just too slim for me. 

Changes like this are inevitable in menswear, and tend to happen in cycles that last perhaps 15-20 years. We covered it in some depth here.

This can be frustrating, but it’s a lot better than womenswear, and if you keep to moderate changes then the cycles are longer. Jeans are also so personal that I think I’ll always keep those bespoke ones. 

Related pieces on denim (a fair bit - and not including style pieces):

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Ecru is not white Simon, rather a shade of brown. In sunny weather, this is my go to colour as your can wear anything your like on top and it is going to look good; t shirt, polo shirt, linen and there is no colour that won’t go with it perfectly.


Simon, hoping you’ve seen them in person, what do you think of the new white pique cotton “jeans” from brycelands, materiality and color wise?

I think they’re advertised as a stark white. Also I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cotton 5 pocket pant from pique cotton; if you’ve felt them, what’s the difference?


Good morning Simon,
Always love an article on jeans as i wear them so often.
I recently read your review of the Brycelands black jean as was considering buying their 133s model and i’m sure you said you went for a 32 in the black, and 31 in the indigo which is the other way round to what this article suggests? Would be great to know if one of them fits smaller than the other as i am about to order.


Hallo Simon,
a very helpful overview. I have a pair of ecru Rubato jeans, that fits me well. So I am thinking of adding one more in black. But I want it to fade to grey as fast as possible. Do you think there would be a difference between Rubato and Bryceland in that regard?


Simon, I would be keen to know which jeans (vintage or new) have the very worst fit for you as our body shapes and fit preferences are entirely opposite.. I have slim thighs, hips, seat and an, erm, unpinched waist.


Try a pair of Iron Heart 888s.


I second Iron Hearts 888s. To me they’re the best cut, Japanese quality but still not a typical Japanese cut.


Interesting Simon, as always. I just bought the Orslow 107 and I have lots of space around the thighs, more than usual in fact. More space than in my E5 relaxed tapered ones from Blackhorse Lane for example. Very much depends on the model I guess.

Lindsay McKee

Here’s a question.
If I were to venture into wearing jeans, I would be looking to the conservative smart side of casual.
To that end it would probably be bespoke, probably from Blackhorse Lane in very dark navy or black Japanese Denim or another suitable fabric, (advice here), definitely unfaded, and no turn-ups,(cuffs).
Does that make any sense?
This is not my strongest area of men’s fashion so I need advice here?

Lindsay McKee

many thanks


You’ve spoken positively about these before – I just wish Rubato and Brycelands did a mid-rise product.

Also they are fortunate you feature them as their website doesnt show anyone wearing the product, which doesn’t help give any idea of what they’d look on.


Thank you – that’s really helpful. Rubato describe the fit as mid/high, so it’s helpful to get your view that it’s more mid-rise.


The problem why for many those jeans is high rise… Let’s take me. I’m shorter than you, yet take 36 or almost 37 in black horse lane. So for me rise will be way way higher than for you. (I imagine size 40 rise would sit on you where 36 sits on me).


Hi Simon, you say about potentially swapping to bryceland’s for your white jeans, I wonder if you have any experience with the pique material they use and your opinion on it vs standard denim? Thanks


Hi Simon

I dropped you a comment on this but it hasn’t appeared as yet, so I will try again.
Ecru is a shade of brown, not white as you suggest. It is my go to colour for the summer months as it goes with any type and colour of shirt,; linen, t shirt, polo etc.
Really versatile as a colour,


Hey Simon,

I have a pair of FullCount faded 1102. They are nice but the fit just doesn’t seem to work for me.

I love your vintage pair. Is that a big E pair of denim? Just wondering what I should look for if I was to look for something similar at vintage stores.


What is the scarf you are wearing in the second picture? Looks really nice!


Hey Simon, thanks. Just to add my two cents:
Orslow denim I have is great. 105, sz 2 (32 normal waist). Great fit, great fading over the years. However, I own two old pairs, and tried to buy another one that proved to be tighter than the 2 first ones. It could be a change in the sizing from Orslow, or just the specific one I had was a couple centimeters tighter all across, but worth flagging.
Rubato is great as well, though they do not give out as much on the waist as the Orslow ones, nor fade as much. Fit is very good. Stayed with my usual 32. Very tight at the beginning but now a good fit, which I can wear without belts unlike the Orslow ones.
I also own a pair of Boncoura denim. A bit tighter and stiffer. Fading is fantastic however, in a much different way – purple-ish / green-ish and with a kind of spotting effect (if that makes sense), more than the usual whiter lines across the leg.
I wanted to have your opinion on denim and age of the wearer. As the generation for which it has always been the uniform gets older, I do not think this question is as relevant as it still recently was (as for sneakers, maybe) – but I think you’ll agree that the older the guy, the more comfortable and aged denim should be. I really dislike stiff, dark and tight jeans on older men, but that is obviously personal. Different for women.


So why not reorder the bespoke ones?


Lol inflation is real


So they are over £1000 now?


Currently, they are £795 per their (UK) website. But if you want anything heavier than 13/14oz or a lighter wash, you could be looking at somewhere like £950.


Hi Simon,
do you think there would be a difference between the black Bryceland and Rubato jeans regarding fading? I would like them to go towards grey as fast as possible.


Brycelands 133 – lovely fit – wide leg , higher rise but far from sloppy and so comfortable.
Resolute 710 – Worn shorter “Hayashi style” – sharp slim 60’s fit that offers an lovely alternative to the 133. No bells and whistles and great denim. Have them in white too.
Wish I could get an Ecru pair in something close to the 133 fit – any suggestions??


I’m glad Permanent Style introduced me to Blackhorse Lane, they are my current favorite brand and fit me well. And they come in black and white, which is what I wear when i wear denim.


Hi Simon,
I wear jeans most of the time and have a mix of shades/ condition, for various looks and contexts. Whilst I have bought a few lighter washes I do enjoy, taking a dark denim to faded over time. I’ve found wearing for gardening is a way to accelerate the process. There is less chance of permanent stains as may happen with painting and the harder wear and soil have a softening impact in my experience.
On your last point re fit, whilst I have stayed the same size over the last ten years my preference for fit has definitely moved towards the looser end over the last few years, something I have seen you have mentioned as well. Thankfully Marrkt (great service) helps to save older items from going to waste and contribute funds to some new (larger) pieces!

Jack Linney

Interesting. I like the idea of buying jeans from a maker that does more menswear-y stuff. I have never thought to do that. When one of my pairs wears out, I’ll have to check those options out.


Jeans that i love that I suspect you won’t are the arthuro from Berg and Berg. They are lower quality from other jeans I own and probably most that you own. Italian denim made in italy.

Yet I just can’t find anything like this anywhere else. They are a true high waisted jean that fit perfectly for my size (6’4). All my other high-rise jeans end up having to sit at a more mid point because of my height. Plus the two cuts, arthur and arthuro are more flattering on me then any other pair, particularly the arthuro with it’s surprisingly full leg. Took a little getting used to first, but now I can’t help but feel like any outfit that requires jeans looks totally incomplete without their silhouette. Have retired all of my drake’s jeans and now only reach for my BHL jeans when I’m wearing something particularly workwear-esque. Otherwise there is no comparison.

Probably my first step into valuing design and style far beyond quality.

Aaron L

Any chance of adding a photo? The berg and berg site photos are so terrible.

Lawrence S.

Your description of the extra room around the hips and thighs on the Bryceland’s 933 / 133s reminds me of how Drake’s jeans fit me (in ecru, size 32). Would you say the silhouette of these Bryceland’s and Drake’s jeans is similar – in the relaxed fullness around the thighs, and in the way they taper gently from below the knee? If not, how does the fit differ?


Hi Simon, for the Brycelands you mention here that you took size 31, but on your original review you said 32?

Regarding black jeans, I am definitely going to give these a try. I was hesitant for years about ecru but, following an article from you, I bought a pair MTM from Blackhorse Lane and they are so versatile – smart enough for a smart-casual look, but can also pair with sweatshirts. I wore them all winter and found them so useful. I actually think a wardrobe of black, ecru and blue jeans covers the majority of my needs.

Could you comment on formality of ecru versus white jeans? To my mind they are equivalent. And both smarter than indigo.



I have both ecru and white jeans and they are my go-to casual trousers in the spring and summer. Ecru is definitely more versatile and I find that is works pretty much any time. I usually only wear white on sunny days when the contrast isn’t so jarring. It took me one or two wears to get over the possible Miami Vice connotations, and now I really like them.
In my opinion, ecru also works well in the winter on a sunny day, whereas white is a bit too much in the winter.


Hi Simon: The belt in the first picture, more specifically the buckle, is that from ludens in Japan or? Hoping not, as I’ve had some difficulty getting them to respond to my inquiries. Many thanks.


Hi Simon,
Great article. I wear jeans probably more often than other style of trousers and even wear them for work now that I’m self-employed I can be quite informal with my clients.
I agree with your comments about the beauty of vintage jeans – they can be a total bargain and often available in colours/shades that can be tricky to buy new. If you know what fits or are willing to chance it then vintage can be great fun.
Buying new can be tricky because, as you rightly say, fit is everything. Fortunately, internet shopping makes this easy with most suppliers offering easy returns and refunds. One source I do personally recommend is Rivetandhide – I believe you have been a customer of theirs too. The range is fantastic, descriptions are genuinely helpful and customer service is fabulous. They offer everything but if, like me, you want a mid/high rise, roomy thigh with tapered fit, then they are a great place to start.
One caveat though (apart from impulse buying Goodart jewellery when online at Rivetandhide) is to make sure all shrinkage is out before any jeans are hemmed. I’ve been surprised at just how much new denim can shorten just with a wash or two. Oh and also that fades can take ages and “breaking in” new denim can be a long process.
Great blog as always and I hope you had a fantastic holiday.


I recently purchased Iron Heart Indigo 21 oz Selvedge 634S, Size W33 x L34 and they are the best pair of jeans I’ve ever purchased. I’m 6’2″, 170 lbs. The only alteration needed was the length. I appreciate the weight and fit; they’re reminiscent of the 1966 Levi’s 501. I subscribe to the philosophy of owning and wearing one pair of jeans at a time, rather than having multiple pairs in various colors. 


Simon in terms of fit between brycelands and rubato whats the difference in fit ?


Aw yes sorry while i was reading the article got a call and forgot that.


Surprised by the coverage of Blackhorse Lane… the photo you say is of Drakes not Blackhorse and say you intend to change the Blackhorse ones to another brand but dont say why. Comes across very negatively of a brand that I thought you’d previously thought highly of.

You state you like Japanese fabric and make and yet dont include any Japanese makers. Is there a particular reason?


Thanks for an interesting article!

In one of the comments, you advice against navy stitching. I am looking for a new pair of jeans and was actually looking for something with less contrast to raw denim than the usual orange. What are your thoughts on navy and other options?

I mean, black and ecru jeans have stitching without contrast colour.

Bob M

I’m a 501 guy for 40 years… I just like the fit. The quality has gone down considerably. My current pair had terrible buttonholes so I had my tailor restitch them. They look and feel great.


What is your current thinking about the Fullcount 0105 Dartford jeans? In the original article you were complimentary about both the wash and fit (understand you had them slimmed a bit), and IMO they looked great.

My personal experience with Fullcount 0105 (raw not Dartford) is that the material is great, but the front rise is too low relative to the back rise. Hence I wear it only very casually with an untucked t-shirt, but it is good for that purpose.


Interesting, can you elaborate on what feels off about the wash compared to vintage jeans?


Each to their own of course, but I think the Drakes jeans pockets are great. They can hold a big mobile phone comfortably, and it won’t dig into the hip when crouching or bending.


Ah, interesting, where is your phone usually instead?


The back pocket is also my standard (my phone is rather small). I’ve never seen overshirts from the pocket perspective – but always thought I could do without it altogether as they have such a thin fabric. Good perspective, thanks.


Hello Simon, I love your articles on denim because personally I always have a very difficult time with finding the perfect pair. It seems though my proportions do not lend themselves well to a pair of modern denim, even from esteemed Japanese brands. Funny enough, the pair that has come closest to perfect in regards to fit for me, have been the Wrangler 13MWZ. Granted I haven’t washed them yet, but even in their “raw” form in black, they have a rise just over 34cm, and a leg opening of 21.6cm, with plenty of room to accommodate large-ish thighs and calves (74cm and 46cm around, respectively). I have yet to find a higher quality maker that can replicate that classic silhouette, so do you think I might be better suited to a MTM or bespoke option for denim? I live in NYC, so there might be some options around me but I’m not too aware of any.


Out of curiosity, who are you using to alter jeans in London? Guessing you aren’t using the retailer?


Thanks, probably want to update Graham Brown’s address on that page since they moved to Bow Lane

Markus S

Hi Simon,
My jeans are all from Japanese brands and I can sympathize with the problem that the can be too wide at the point, where the belt is supposed to sit (if you wear one), but a good fit in all other aspects.
My question: Have you had RTW jeans slimmed at the waist, and what are the downsides of doing so?


Eh. I wish I could find NW1 fit but a bit lower rise, a bit smaller waist and a bit wider in the hips…


One of my favourite topics. I’m an Iron Heart 634 guy plus Full Count 1102. Understanding how much good denim stretches is key to buying.

Gianluca Brisigotti

Lovely article. I have been a vintage (made in USA) 501 lover for a while, however as much as I love the cut, I do wish they were a little higher waister / had a higher rise.
Any recommendations here on vintage (or not) denim with a nice high rise?


Personally, I think there are a lot of smaller American denim brands that make really nice jeans and for a much more appealing price than Bryceland’s or Rubato. Maybe a bit harder to get here in Europe, however. Japanese denim always feels overpriced to me


Of course!
Railcar, Freenote, Raleigh Denim, Imogen + Willie, Shockoe Atelier, Glenn’s Denim, Left Field and the ever present 3sixteen are some notable ones. Mister Freedom (although not an American company) makes some very nice denim in the United States as well.
There was a brand called “Roy” (I think it was just a one man operation) that made pretty much the gold standard denim, but sadly he quit a few years back.


Hiroshi Kato out of LA. Japanese selvedge sewn stateside. Their website’s explanation of selvedge is interesting for a denim novice.

Lawrence West

Yes but they’re really into stretch denim while most PS readers probably aren’t. Kato call certain fabrics “raw selvedge” even though they’re 4% Polyurethane. If you don’t want stretch make sure to look for their “non-stretch selvedge.”


As an owner of the referenced Rubato (blue and black) as well as Blackhorse (raw) jeans I have to advocate for rounding off with Orslow 105 being a great option for a modern jeans with very good washes imo.

Anglo Italian also see me through.

Joe P

Really interesting and useful article, Simon, thanks. Love the look of the Rubato ones; however, my wife definitely thinks that the two pairs of indigo jeans I own is one more than I need, so can’t see me getting approval on those!

Have been coveting the black Brycelands for a while, but they’ve been out of stock in the UK for almost as long, it seems. Keeping fingers crossed they come back in time for my birthday in a few weeks…!


As a slimmer guy, I’ve always really struggled to find denim that actually fits properly.

The E9 from BHL in a size 25 fit wonderfully, do you think the smaller sizes from Rubato and Bryceland’s might also fit?


Another great article, thanks Simon. I have the 133 from Brycelands (which has gotten a lot of wear over the years) but my favourite pair currently is from Informale. At the moment they only do dark indigo, but that may change with time. Key differences for me: the Informale has a slightly higher rise, and extra inlay in the seams so you can widen the leg, which I did through the thigh to get a more relaxed fit. Worth readers checking out if either of those points appeal.


I have some older Levi’s 501s that I like and a couple of pairs from BLA. My favourites at the moment are some Hiut Hacks in 14 oz Japanese selvedge. The cut and fit suit me well. I’ve also recently acquired some washed black jeans from Anglo Italian. Again, the cut and fit are good for me,


It is and I was uncertain initially, but I’ve really warmed to them. I tend to wear them with slightly smarter outfits. I’d probably still prefer something more like the Japanese denim, but I’m quite enjoying them, having got used to them. The cut and fit are a part of what makes me like them too.
i strongly recommend the Hiuts, by the way. Very good quality, several different styles and waist sizes that increase in 1” increments, which makes it easier to get a good fit, I think. They also have a repairs service and take back old jeans, refurbish and resell them. They have a great back story too. If you haven’t come across them, I think they may be worth a look and would appeal to many PS readers. (I have no connection with the company, by the way. I just like the idea of sharing good experiences as we sometimes do on PS).


Hi Simon,
In your recent YouTube video about packing for a short trip, you including a navy trouser. Navy trousers have been a blind spot for me due to the old “abandoned suit trousers” adage — though that cannot be said of your pair.
What do you look for in such a pair of trousers? Fabric, pattern, weight, etc. Does that pair happen to belong to a suit?



Lovely article. Is that a yellow hoodie you’re pairing with the Levi’s and tassle loafers? I love how much there is to have with a beautiful pair of Levi’s.


I love my vintage mid-wash LVC 66501 and Resolute 710. But I will try a pair of higher rise next time, probably Allevol ‘Roku Roku’ 66.


You wrote quite positively about the dartford wash from Fullcount some time ago. What I read today sounds like you changed your mind a bit here?


I am not surprised actually. I guess you might think the same way about your washed western shirt from husbands some time in the future.


Have you seen the washed black Packard denim shirt by Freenote Cloth. It’s the best looking washed black denim shirt I’ve seen. Although I’ve only seen it in pictures because I haven’t found it in any European retailers’ stores and my size already seems to be out of stock on their website as well. But I’ve been admiring it in the pictures many times.


Ah yes, I hadn’t really paid attention to the yoke. Can’t decide myself if I like it or don’t, should maybe try it on when I get the chance and see how it looks like and feels when wearing it. What I really like about the shirt is the wash. Looks nicely worn in (not just charcoal grey everywhere), but isn’t overdone like some washes.

Brian Ramos

Hi Simon,
What’s your take on the cut and fit of White/Ecru Resolute 710?
I know a lot of people who enjoys wearing them and I have tried them twice at a store but couldn’t seem to get the appeal as I always find the rise to be a bit low than what I would normally wear.


Enjoying the honesty around fits. Early on I think a lot of people are most focused on the denim itself, weight, colour etc – but I’ve been through many incredibly respected brands: Full Count, Hiut, Burgus, Orslow, Japan Blue and whilst you can’t doubt the quality, the overall lesson has been that fit is king. To put it bluntly, my legs are just too damn skinny.
The LVC 47′ 501, TCB S40s and the slightly superior Sugar Cane 47 are yes, predictable, absolute belters – and pretty much the classic 40s/50s silhouette. The Edwin Nashville also just quietly ticks along being an absolute triumph (I’ve noticed it’s always been stocked by the stores that know). I have been impressed with the Blackhorse Lane NW8 – now discontinued but has worn in incredibly well. I’d be keen to try the Brycelands along with Dawson Denim in the future.

Bobby S

I was wondering if anyone was going to mention Dawson Denim. I think they fly under the radar a bit due to the small scale of operations but I’ve been really impressed. The fit is great for me, something which isn’t necessarily the case with Japanese brands, and the denim is starting to age beautifully. Shame I’m at the opposite end of the country because I’d love to have a look round their workshop.


Funnily enough, I live two streets away from them. I can vouch for the denim as I have one of their chore jackets to hand (along with some fantastically baggy military chinos). They get to visit and like to have a natter about what they’re working on next.


Rogue Territory’s Silveridge and Stanton models are a good slim fitting jean.

Mike Chicago

Resolute 710s; the best for all occasions and can be dressed up or down.


So I thought about this a lot after reading the article. I don’t take jeans very seriously. I mean I do, but I gather have a different perspective on this side of the pond. That’s not to say that I don’t understand people who do take them seriously, on the contrary, I respect those people because they keep the denim industry honest.
Jeans for me are an alternative to sweatpants; I wear them to lounge around the house, or to run to the grocer (this said I am wearing a pair at work with a button down and tweed jacket today). I have only had 3 pair of jeans that I loved: a pair of Citizens of Humanity about 15? years ago, a pair of Rag and Bone about 8 years ago, and a cheap pair of Levis currently. They all had different things I loved, the Citizens were thick and soft with a very flattering cut, the Rag and Bones were an excellent selvedge denim made in America that wore beautifully, and the Levis are comfortable, light color, slimmer jean with a decent amount of stretch.
For me the Rag and Bone were the best pair, because the brand had a warm place in America’s heart. A long time after Levis left US manufacturing, two men went to one of their abandoned factory towns and re-hired the lot of master denim craftsman that had been abandoned by the “American” company. They made great quality jeans with selvedge denim that had a tiny (1-2%) stretch. They were a dark blue that faded beautifully based on how you wore them. Sadly, now Rag and Bone has moved manufacturing abroad. That led me to try a pair of Levis to hold me over until I find a place I love again. Surprisingly the Levis I bought filled a gap that I didn’t know I had, and I have come to love them as a super casual beater pair.
I think my next pair will be Gustin, but this recent Levis purchase reminded me that jeans don’t have to be serious or have a deep heritage. Sometimes they are just meant to be something nicer than sweatpants, able to do work in, and get beat up.
Again, I hold no negative judgement to true denim lovers, nor do I believe that this pair of Levis (which represents everything wrong with the denim industry) should alter others’ minds. I just wanted to share how my perspective changed over time.


Hi Brian, I think this is an interesting perspective. It is one that I more or less share. I have two pairs of jeans, both of which are Levi’s lot one that I bought several years ago in the same heavy Japanese denim. They are identical expect I had one made a little longer in the legs because the first pair shrunk more than expected. (I also have white and ecru jeans but I don’t really count them as jeans because they have a totally different use in my wardrobe.) I occasionally wear my jeans with a tweed jacket in the autumn or winter, but the vast majority of use is when I need to wear trousers that I don’t care about getting dirty or treating badly like playing with my kids at the playground or doing work around the house. To my eyes, the wear and tear and fading they get from hard use makes them look even better as they age. I really appreciate my jeans because they stand up well to the abuse, but they are not something I fuss over.


Hi simon have you tried other models of levis like the 569 (wider leg)? I have skinny legs and the 501s are not a good look! Are there wider jeans you have tried that are good?


You will have noticed by the number of comments how well received this article was…same here, very useful and hitting the Zeitgeist. A couple of years ago, I said you’d never see me in the office with jeans. Something which I now do from time to time. Also because I somehow started appreciating the dark denim more, making it easier to pair with other “office-appropriate” clothes…
I have also tried a number of japanese makers (and others). The only ones that I haven’t altered yet is an Orslow 105 size 3. The others almost always needed a slimming of the leg, at least the hem (to about 20/21cm), not so much the thigh.
Do you Simon, or anyone else have any experience with the Ankara fit of Tellason? Doesn’t seem to come up in search.


Hi Simon, great article. I know you’ve had the Rubato officers chinos altered – did you do the same with the jeans? I have a pair and really like them. I just sometimes wonder whether the leg is a touch wide.

Philip Patrick

Would you say there is an age to stop wearing jeans? I think Hugh Grant said 40.

Vincent S

I highly recommend Viapiana Custom Denim in Toronto, Canada if anyone want to go bespoke. I got a pair made with Nihon Menpu denim and quality is top notch!


if you want light wash I would look into RRL, it’s “over priced” at retail but they do wash very well in general


Yup, pretty sure both slim and slim narrow are not for you, look for Straight, there is also vintage 5 pocket which is kind outside mainstream wide

ps and maybe low straight, though I feel low straight has gotten slimmer over the years


Hi Simon, is there a reason all these jeans use a button fly? Is the button closer more “authentic” or does it affect the fit somehow? I’m looking for a quality denim, straight fit, mid to high rise, but I can’t seem to find a brand that uses a zipper fly. I’m an older gent and just don’t get on with button flys anymore. Thoughts?


Hi Simon, a quick one for you. I bought a pair of Full Count ecru jeans. They had a slight mark on them from the store. I obviously should have taken them back, but instead I gave them a squirt of stain remover and washed them. Problem is that it made a HUGE white mark on one of the legs. I appreciate I could bleach them to white, but if there any way to return them to ecru?
I also don’t want to slam Full Count, but their customer service could not have been less interested. I’m sure you get a better service then the average bear, but I was quite surprised – at this price point – how unhelpful they were.


Would you care to elaborate on why FULLCOUNT is considered a workwear-oriented brand? And what defines a workwear-oriented brand ? Any other examples ? Thanks


Thanks for the interesting article Simon
I have at least 16 jeans in my wardrobe, Zimbabwe cotton with true indigo creating deep and captivating hues and patina, couple of selvedge jeans from American Cone Mills The White Oak Plant, 26 ounce Japanese (which requires quite an effort to put it on and off) to mention a few. Most of my jeans comes from:
You can get jeans at a fraction of the price…now since we left EU no duty as well if the total value is less than approx £130


Hey Simon,

I just began my journey searching for a pair of mid-blue vintage levi’s , especially the 501 in the 1966 fit.

I have found a couple online that fit what I am looking for… but I have noticed the thigh measurements for most of them in my size (33) have been about 29~30cm.

Compared to my pairs of denim from Rubato, Brycelands and Drakes usually between 32.5~34cm.

Did you find your pair of vintage Levi’s to usually have slimmer thighs than that of the above mentioned brands?

Sorry for the basic question. First time vintage shopper.


May I ask how much are these vintage 501 from 1966 would cost generally speaking ? How much would a new old stock as compared to a worn in one but in good condition ? Thanks


Rubato jeans are really nice, but beware of the extremely shallow pockets – no way you could fit a smart phone in there! Was the reason I had to return them.

Really confused as why any brand would offer jeans with short and shallow pockets nowadays?

Tried on the Bryceland jeans in London, service was so so and the leg is huge – even on the “slim” models.


Can you not just replace the pockets if that’s the only issue?


I can confirm that the blue on the rubato jeans is beautiful. Here after almost 2 years of moderate wear.


What are the black boots you are wearing with the Rubato jeans? Thanks.


Great article Simon. For many years I wore selvedge 1947 Levis. In recent years I have bought Orslow 107 fit white, dark denim, 2 year wash, black, and the green fatigues. All suit my body type.

John Q

I’ll admit to being utterly bemused. I’d have thought the aesthetics of jeans is that they’re workwear (though given that they become so uncomfortable when wet, I find them utterly impractical for gardening in my part of the world). They’re usually cut to be unflattering – by design – as they shouldn’t rumple when sitting on your horse (in dry parts of the world). The man in the street thinks Jeremy Clarkson when they see a middle-aged person wearing them.

Horses for courses, I guess. But cords wash well, are usually cut for somebody not on a horse, only have weird associations if you buy them in red, yellow or bottle green, and are thoroughly comfortable even when they’re damp from kneeling in the soil.

I can see that it’s possible to geek out about anything. Maybe about the stitching on a mosquito net or the thread count on a handkerchief! But is there a level of irony that I’m missing to geek out about something that is, at heart, designed to be abused by tough guys riding horses in a hot and dry climate? Maybe if you told a cowboy his jeans were ‘ecru’ he’d have laughed and bought you a whisky – or maybe he’d have broken your nose – are you feeling lucky, Simon?

John Q

When I was growing up (Up North), the most popular carbohydrate in the region was white bread made using the Chorleywood process. It’s still the most popular form of bread in the UK!

Most people find it very tasty. I think, given it’s a carbohydrate, we can safely say it gives consumers a feeling of comfort. Even I agree that the bubble-holes and loose strands have a form of beauty – look at a slice under the microscope if you’re not convinced. (It’ll look even more beautiful if you’re microscope isn’t very good – the birefringence will cause the strands to glitter with the colours of the rainbow.)

Bread made using the Chorleywood process is a technical marvel. A brilliant invention and a practical invention (most wheat grown in the UK doesn’t have the protein content of that grown elsewhere and so can’t be turned into bread as easily).

There are also people who geek out over it. There are websites that compare Hovis to Warburtons to Kingsmill to various supermarket versions. As a nipper, my mum taught me how to choose a ‘good’ loaf by squeezing it.

I don’t feel I’m being very brave to say that today I prefer other forms of bread. They’re not quite so pretty to look at under a microscope, they don’t have the spongey qualities my mum admired, they’re not even so instantly comfortable (they have a lower GI index). In practical terms, you could also point to the fact that most UK white bread lasts longer (the chemical mix has to be different, never mind any additives that improve longevity).

I think this may be a case of allowing one set of instincts (good instincts – for beauty in the object, for technical brilliance, for comfort, for subjects which allow us to geek out) to overwhelm another instinct – for taste (which is harder – who is to say the bread from my local boulangerie is better than Kingsmill – if I ever live Up North again I’ll have to hide my preference for unsqueezable bread as assiduously as my bespoke wardrobe)! I fear that with jeans I believe you’ve gone in the direction of the people who write articles on the history of Hovis and compare Kingsmill’s factories poorly with Warburtons. But those people have a strong point – and much to work with – and I see that you do too!


Hi Simon,
I think we might have similar proportions. I’d recommend vintage 1980s Levis 550 jeans. I am lean but have athletic thighs and butt and a lot of the cool modern jeans don’t fit me, because if I size up so that I can fit my thighs into them, then the waist is too big. I’ve found the 550s from the 1980s to be perfect, and the fabric itself is really nice. The 550s post-1980s really are awful so I’d stay away from them, especially the contemporary ones which are garbage.
Thanks for this article. I’m going to look into the Brycelands version…


Hi Simon,
would you say that 1990 Levis jeans are qualitatively different from current models (apart from the wash)?
I almost exclusively wear OrSlow 105, but a little mix wouldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to search for vintage.


I’m not exactly thrilled with the current Levi’s models, which is why I asked about the denim quality of models from the 90s. Maybe I will go out and look for one. Thank you.


Great article and photos. I liked seeing how you styled the different color denims


Hi Simon, very enjoyable article as usual. Of these brands you mention here – which would you say have the widest thigh cut and highest rise?

thank you,


Hey Simon, I presume you have had waists taken in jeans from time to time. Do you have a preferred method and if so which one? For example, back centre seam or through the sides. I’ve had the latter method and my front pockets have become very tight and so I’m not sure if it’s related to the waist reduction method used or just a trade off for a more fitted waist.


Hi Simon,
do you have a recommendation for the optimal length of jeans when they are not untucked? I am aware that there is no one length that fits all types of shoes, but perhaps a guide as to what length you have your jeans adjusted to?
Best regards


Hey Simon. Given your preference for Japanese denim, have you tried the Real McCoys and can you give a view on their jeans?


Hi Simon, quick question just to be clear. You have the unsanforized 133 in a sz 32, which works fine once washed, right? I own the Rubato in the sz 32 as well. Fits fine but couldn’t be tighter. How would you compare both, waist-wise? Thanks and apologies for the selfish question.


I have to say I’ve come back to wearing jeans, largely due to your musings on the fit and fading. My heyday wearing them was in the seventies. Always Levi’s 501 and the occasional trucker jacket. All faded beautifully. No fussing around just wash and go. Wear until threadbare. Repeat.


Are Full Count jeans, then, overall slimmer than your above mentioned, brands?


Hi simon have you tried the new rubato trouser in hbt? There are very few pics of people wearing them and im unsure how its supposed to fit. Is it like a denin or a military trouser but slim?

Bryan Beaudreault

Hey Simon, thanks for the article.
I’m not sure if this has been covered before but I’m curious how you decide on bespoke vs ready to wear. For example, I notice that you have bespoke chinos but also various ready to wear.

It seems like given your connections you could easily furnish your wardrobe solely from bespoke or MTM, but you keep coming back to certain ready to wear brands. I imagine the answer is multi-faceted, but I’d be interested in knowing how all the factors play together.

maybe a blog idea?

Ghaz Khan

Hi Simon,
I have acquired Jeans from different brands for a number of years but finally came to the conclusion that all you need is a few jeans with a good fit and are comfortable to wear. In my opinion the jeans by Stefano Ricci are truly the best that I have ever tried and owned. They tend to be on the pricier side but they come in a number of different fits and the material and craftsmanship is simply the best.


For the rubato jeans, it comes standard inseam which is way too long for me. But it says I should wash the jeans before getting it tailored. The thing is people recommends wearing it for awhile before washing. Should I suck it up and just wear it with the bottom folded for awhile before washing or shoulder I Just wash it now so it can be tailored. Also it says wash in 40 degree celsius which is equivalent of warm water. Should I put the washer warm/hot setting or use cool water for these jeans?


It is unfortunate that I don’t have easy access to good vintage jeans near me.

Have you ever tried the 1102 fade from fullcount. If you had to pick between that or Orslow’s two year fade – which would you prefer?


Hi Simon, thank you for this very informative article as always. I managed to visit the Rubato pop-up last month and was a bit unsure whether to go for a 33 or 34. I have a pair of Real McCoy’s in 33 and regret not sizing up, and your comment about them feeling tight at first gave me pause for thought. I know that denim stretches and wears in over time, but could you please give some idea of how tight was reasonable from when you first got them to how they wear now?