We continue our Denim Week series with a closer look at 5 iconic jeans. See the rest of our features here.
Originally created for miners and cowboys in 1873, denim jeans entered the realm of fashion as a symbol of rebellion among the youth of 1950s America. Having slowly shed its rebel appeal, denim is now considered a mainstream wardrobe staple worn by just about everyone. Of course not all denim is created equal, with different fabric types and cuts allowing a wide array of styles that all send very different messages.
While one man’s poison might be Japanese raw selvedge denim, another might prefer a skin-tight fit or a well-worn finish. These five jeans have earned themselves a strong reputation with good reason. Known for their technical attention-to-detail and contribution to the fine art of denim, they run the gamut from bare bones unbranded indigo selvedge, to highly embellished and detailed pieces.
Balmain Biker Jeans
Known for its rock-star meets military aesthetic, French fashion house Balmain has seen a strong resurgence since its revival in 2005. Their iconic Biker jean with ribbed panels has become synonymous with a nonchalant attitude to dressing that the French know all too well. Made in Japan from premium denim, the motocross-influenced jeans are now available in a wide range of colors and finishes, everything from distressed and waxed, to untreated. They’ve even re-appropriated the ribbed panelling with various other embellishments such as embossed crosshatching. You can choose from a range here.
Introduced in 1947, Levi’s 501XX silhouette was the brand’s original Shrink-to-Fit selvedge denim. Created on a narrower loom than today’s varieties, the 501XX are not pre-washed and need to be bought one-inch larger in the waist, and three-inches longer in length so as to fit snugly once washed. As is the holy grail of modern selvedge denim, it is recommended to wear them for as long as possible without washing. Inevitably when the time comes to give them a clean, Levi’s suggests soaking them with a capful of Dr. Bronner’s soap, hang drying them, and slipping them on when slightly damp, allowing them to dry to the shape of your body. Though not as prevalent today, you can still source some Shrink-to-Fit styles here.
Hedi Slimane for Dior Homme MIJ Washed Jeans
Dior Homme’s Made In Japan jeans have earned themselves a strong reputation in the world of denim, and with good reason. Considered superior to the brand’s Made In Italy (MII) range, the MIJ runs slimmer and stretches less, and is available in raw and washed finishes. As the name suggests the washed style is pre-washed, meaning the hard work of wearing in the raw denim has already been done for you. Two of the brand’s most popular cuts, the 19cm and 21cm were created by Hedi Slimane while he was Creative Director at Dior Homme, and were allegedly inspired by APC’s New Cure and New Standard models. Find them here.
APC New Standard Butler Jeans
Known as being a modern classic in the raw denim world, APC’s New Standard cut jeans are as clean as they come. Famed for their no-branding approach, they use quality Japanese selvedge denim that is designed to break in with wear and soften for a personalized fit. The French brand has even implemented the Butler program, which offers customers the chance to return a pair of broken-in APC jeans, which are then washed, mended, and marked with the initials of their former owner, before going on sale as truly unique pieces of denim. Head here to pick up a new pair to wear in.
Junya Watanabe Patchwork Jeans
Japanese designer and once protégé of Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe has crafted an aesthetic well and truly his own. Known for his technical designs, his iconic Patchwork jeans were clearly not the first of the style, but they are definitely the most celebrated. Offering various fits for both men and women, in either brightly-colored or monotone patches, the look is both trendy and classic. Although designs vary each season, you can head here to pick up a current pair.
Check out the rest of our Denim Week features here.