If there is one piece of clothing that everyone really should own, it’s a pair of well-fitting jeans. From cowboys to hippies, indie rockers to preppy jocks, jeans are that one designer item that has transcended time, gender and many a fashion wardrobe. But with such popularity, it means practically every clothing brand under the sun produces its own denim, making wading through the absolute of mid-wash, dark-wash and light-wash jeans to find the best brands that much tougher.
Buying a pair of jeans for yourself isn’t always as simple as going into a store, picking up a pair and taking them home. In order to nail the perfect pair you need to understand fit and fabric, as what one brand considers to be a 32-inch waist, or a slim-fit, for example, could be polar opposite to another. And naturally, with anything in fashion, some brands are just stylish than others, and you wouldn’t want to be the butt of jokes because of the designer denim you’re rocking now, would you?
Thankfully for you, we do know which jeans (skinny, bootcut or relaxed) are worth your investment and have curated such a list to make it easier than ever to find a new pair of denim for any day of the week, any event and any season.
Everlane is an ethical clothing manufacturer that makes a particularly good pair of jeans. The company hand-selects all of the materials and manufacturers for every single product it sells to ensure they not only meet quality standards but also its stringent ethical and environmental standards. Everlane is a completely transparent retailer too, telling you the customer about how your jeans are made and where your money is going. Because of its direct-to-consumer sales approach, Everlane is able to charge much less than some of its rivals, yet still provide a high-quality product. Everlane has a comprehensive range of denim, including slim, regular, straight and athletic cuts as well as an array of colours to choose from.
Before starting his own label, Todd Snyder was a key designer at the likes of Ralph Lauren, The GAP and Marc Jacobs. The experiences at these powerhouse firms gave him the confidence and ability to start his own label which has become a powerhouse in its own right and is a destination to visit for effortlessly cool style married with top-quality goods. A fair chunk of Todd's denim range is made from Japanese Selvedge, a benchmark in high-quality, and with the main spectrum of colours taken care of (light, mid, dark, black) you can easily stock up a certified-cool capsule wardrobe.
AG Jeans combines sophisticated, tailored denim and the unbeatable feel of worn-in jeans. Its denim is constructed from high-grade fabric and expertly treated to achieve specific washes that emulate natural ageing, while an innovative stretch fabric retains the shape and ensures comfort. AG perfectly combines quality and price to ensure you’re getting high-quality jeans without having to pay ridiculous prices. Available in a smaller range of colours and styles, AG doesn’t have a comprehensive range, but what it does offer is superb quality and value.
Rag & Bone
Founded in the US in 2002, Rag & Bone offers the very epitome of American-style denim. All its jeans are manufactured in Los Angeles and are available in fits ranging from extra-slim to a more classic straight-cut. Extra care is taken to ensure any pair of jeans you buy will feel just right from day, and with less common colours such as brown and incredibly light grey available to choose from, Rag & Bone could become you new favourite denim brand.
With Kelly Slater, one of the world's best ever surfers, responsible for creating Outerknown, it's certainly one that you should be taking notice of. Kelly was inspired to start his own brand following the expiration of one of his former sponsorship deals, and are we glad he did. With a stupidly heavy focus on sustainability, Outerknown is a brand to invest in if you actually care about the planet you live on. Each pair of jeans is made at "the world's cleanest denim facility" and offer incredible quality. Slim, straight and tapered fits available in a multitude of colours means Outerknown has a pair of jeans for everyone.
G-Star RAW was born in the Netherlands in 1989 and quickly took the world by storm – it's often regarded as being the brand to really introduce the idea of luxury denim to the mainstream market. As its name suggests, G-Star RAW specialises in raw, untreated denim, giving you an incredibly tough and durable pair of jeans and it's a feature that has allowed it to become popular not just with high-street shoppers, but a raft of celebrities too. Despite its luxurious nature, G-Star RAW jeans are competitively priced, giving you plenty of bang for your buck.
Nudie Jeans is one of our absolute favourite jeans brands here at DMARGE. How come? The Swedish manufacturer prides itself on producing sustainably made denim from 100 per cent organic cotton and runs on the ethos of every pair of jeans telling its own unique story. The company encourages all customers to refrain from washing their jeans for at least the first six months of ownership so that they can take on a character of their own, and should they ever become damaged or ripped, promises to offer free repairs for life. We also love Nudie's transparent approach to business, as a quick look on its website will show you a breakdown of the company structure including its finances. It's certainly a brand you should respect.
Think denim jeans and Levi's will almost certainly feature in your top three brands. The company is practically synonymous with denim and was the company responsible for the explosion in popularity for blue jeans across the whole of America during the 20th century. While the company does now face stiffer competition than what it was used to during its heyday, Levi's remains a brand to be relied upon for quality denim and select stores will be able to make adjustments to yours on the spot.
For denim with a touch of Scandinavian flair, look no further than Stockholm-based Acne Studios. Not reserved to producing just clothing, Acne Studios' founder Johnny Johannson also dabbles in the worlds of publications, furniture and exhibitions. It's the clothing range you'll no doubt know the brand for, however, and if not, then you really should.
We're huge fans of Acne Studios' clothing range as it exudes a distinctly minimalist flair, yet provides exceptional quality. The denim range comprises a wide variety of fits, from the expected slim and straight to more unusual fits such as bootcut and oversized.
DENHAM was founded in Amsterdam in 2008 by English jeanmaker Jason Denham. Jason has an unwavering passion for premium-quality denim and consistently pushes himself and the company to improve on its designs and fits. Denim is sourced from only the finest mills in Italy and Japan and the most sustainable practices are taken where possible.
Each pair of DENHAM jeans bares the company's scissor logo (crafted from 691 stitches) and the range encompasses numerous fits and washes at affordable prices.
Parisian brand A.P.C. opened for business in 1987 and quickly became known for its quality denim. Since then, several full clothing collections have come and gone, but the brand has remained associated with quality you can trust and style you want to be seen in. Jeans are still very much a point of focus for the label, with its range producing a quintessential range of fits and colours that can easily take up space in any modern man's wardrobe.
Americans can thank Prps for spearheading the charge for Japanese luxury-quality denim. Founded in 2002, the brand has remained undeterred in its desire to constantly research and develop its clothing range to ensure the utmost quality. A strong focus is placed on washed and selvedge denim, which can be had in a multitude of fits and styles, ranging from your traditional look jeans through to pairs with rips, patterns or anything style touches emblazoned on them. If you really want to flash the cash, you can take a look at the Prps Noir range, which offers the absolute last word in premium.
orSlow is a brand that does away with jumping aboard the fast fashion bandwagon. Tucked away from denim-centric Tokyo in the Hyogo Prefecture, the brand's mission statement is to invest in the garment construction process in a slower, more considered manner that respects the heritage of workwear. This means products are handmade, resulting in items that will last much longer.
Believe it or not, denim brands do hail from places other than Europe or Japan. Case in point is Dsquared2, which was "Born in Canada" and is now "Made in Italy". Founded by twin brothers Dean and Dan, D2 looks to combine tough, ripped and rugged looking Canadian style with refined Italian workmanship. The company's jeans are on the pricier side but in return, you get a pair that is not only impeccably made, but comes from one of the hottest brands around.
John Eliott's eponymous clothing label was founded in 2012 on the basis of creating a line of fashion basics, but with the quality you'd expect from a high-end tailor. The label has since become a favourite among the celebrity world, being seen worn by the likes of LeBron James, Kanye West and Justin Bieber, so if you consider yourself to be in the same echelon as names such as these, this is a brand for you. We wouldn't call the denim range extensive, but the jeans offered are ones that have been meticulously crafted down to the very last detail... rips included.
Edwin has been in the denim game since way back in 1947. While its first pair of jeans didn't come around until 1969, founder Mr. Tsunemi had spent the previous 20 years importing and mending used jeans, so was well versed to set up his own denim company and help to ignite the Japanese denim industry. The brand continues to be one of the most influential in the world as it continuously remains on-trend and offers incredible quality for the money.
Japanese clothier Uniqlo is one to turn to for simple everyday pieces that really don't cost the earth. Investing in the affordable Uniqlo brand doesn't mean you need to scrimp on quality, however, as the company constantly churns out piece that belie their price. Uniqlo's denim range vast, ticking off a variety of fits which are available in more sizes than you thought possible. The company also has its own alternations service which will make any adjustments for free.