The 15 Jeans Brands Every Denim Fan Needs to Know

If you’re reading this, chances are you already own more than a few pairs of trusty jeans. Denim remains one of the USA’s most prominent cultural exports, still strongly associated with a specific, idealized of American style in the global popular imagination. By now, the rough outline of the blue jean’s origin story, befitting its status as an all-American hero, is fairly well-known: enterprising immigrant recognizes the need for a sturdy pair of rivet-reinforced pants and partners with another entrepreneurial spirit to patent the design, expand production, and bring the blue jean to the American masses. The rest, as they say, is history.

When Jacob Davis partnered with Levi Strauss in the late 1870s, the two may not have set out to completely upend the way people dressed years down the line, but today, patent 139,121 remains a defining moment in the gradual casualization of wardrobes around the world, and blue jeans endure as an emissary of American style—and by extension an emblem of the cultural values Americans hold dear. Jeans are laid-back and versatile, hard-wearing but easy to style. Jeans are trustworthy and often simply designed, riffed on by high-fashion houses of all stripes but essentially democratic in nature.

If brazenly embracing American exceptionalism, and all the connotations that come along with it, seems like a difficult proposition to accept these days, why not celebrate America in the context of one of the goods that actually makes it great: a pair of pants invented in the States by two people not from there, who left as their legacy a template that’s now been so thoroughly iterated upon no one country can lay claim to it.

Today, even in a post-pandemic WFH world, jeans aren’t just a last resort to throw on when your sweatpants are dirty: For many, many people, they’re a way of life. If you’re in the market for a new pair, here are the brands you should check out first.

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Levi’s

501 Original Fit Stretch Men’s Jeans levi.com

$41.65

The brand that started it all still makes some of the best jeans out there. 

Uniqlo

Stretch Selvedge Slim-Fit Jeans uniqlo.com

$49.90

Uniqlo’s selvedge denim is a bit of a fan favorite here at Esquire HQ— it’s got the perfect amount of stretch so you stay comfortable whether sitting at your desk or splayed across the couch. And at 50 bucks a pop, the price is hard to beat.

Everlane

The Slim Fit Jean everlane.com

$68.00

Everlane took its sweet time getting into the denim game, but now it’s one of the best options out there for well-made, well-priced skinny, slim, and athletic fits. 

Gap

Vintage Slim Jeans gap.com

$69.95

The brand that started out selling old Levi’s from a single store in San Francisco has slowly turned itself into a denim powerhouse, and another favorite around the Esquire offices.

Paige

Transcend Lennox Slim Fit Jeans nordstrom.com

$94.49

Paige’s Transcend fabric disrupted what the denim world thought a pair of pants could feel like. These are soft (so very, very soft) and, crucially, won’t dig into your stomach whatsoever when you’re sitting. 

Naked & Famous

Black Power Stretch Super Guy Jeans ssense.com

$106.00

The Montreal-based brand sources its denim from traditional Japanese mills and uses a variety of specialized fabric blends to make its signature product.  

Mott & Bow

Oliver Jean mottandbow.com

$108.00

Mott & Bow makes a mean pair of slightly more formal denim for everyday wear, including these slim-but-not-skinny dark wash beauties. 

AG

Tellis Slim Fit Jeans nordstrom.com

$118.80

Adriano Goldschmied built his entire career on selling pair after pair of perfectly cut jeans. They don’t just start calling you “The Godfather of Denim” for nothing.  

Rag & Bone

Standard Issue Fit 1 Jeans nordstrom.com

$146.25

If you’re looking to level up your denim game, you can’t beat a black pair of Rag & Bone jeans. They’ll fit just right straight out of the packaging. 

3Sixteen

SL⁠-⁠130x 3sixteen.com

$150.00

3Sixteen launched almost two decades ago with a fairly straightforward mission: Make really good pair of jeans. To do that, the brand sources its denim from (where else?) Japan, but its manufacturing remains stateside. 

Madewell

Selvedge Slim Authentic Flex Jeans madewell.com

$158.00

J.Crew’s sister brand entered the men’s denim market strategically— the label’s selection of jeans avoids overwhelming while still offering an option perfect for every occasion. 

RRL

Slim Fit Jean endclothing.com

$209.00

Ralph Lauren’s line of vintage-inspired ranch life essentials can come across as a pastiche of classic Americana, but its denim offerings are always on-point. 

Acne Studios

Slim-Fit Stretch-Denim Jeans mrporter.com

$240.00

One of the OG players in the Scandinavian denim movement (it’s real, and it’s spectacular), Acne Studios got its start making really good denim before expanding into a full-fledged fashion brand. The options are on the pricier side, but thanks to their high-end construction and materials, they’ll last you for years. 

A.P.C.

Petit New Standard apc-us.com

$265.00

A whole generation of denimheads cut its teeth on A.P.C., and there’s a good reason why: The Parisian label’s signature jeans are just that good. Do they take some serious wear before they’re truly comfortable? Sure. But that’s kind of the point: You beat the hell out of them so you can make them your own.

Kapital

Monkey Cisco Distressed Denim Jeans mrporter.com

$405.00

At this point, calling Kapital a denim brand is a gross disservice to everything else one of the most influential Japanese labels in the market makes today. But Kapital started out painstakingly recreating the perfect pair of vintage jeans, and the brand still sells some of the best denim styles around. 

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Source : Esquire