The Leading Brands In Men’s Denim
Shopping for new jeans is – thankfully – no longer a case of traipsing around a department store, gradually tearing your hair out as you try on endless pairs that don’t fit or suit you.
Many of us already know the brands we like and exactly where to get them. We’re denim-savvy: more educated on construction, cut and wash than our forebears.
But what if you’re still not sure which brand and style is right for you? With denim (in all its guises, not just jeans) set to be big throughout spring/summer 2015, now’s the time to start swotting up on terms such as mid-rise, acid wash and raw selvedge, as well as tried and trusted jeans purveyors and the all-new names in denim.
To get you started, we’ve curated a list of five of the best denim brands on the market, and their key jean styles to look out for this season.
1. Acne Studios
Although perhaps best known for being synonymous with clean, minimal Scandi design, this achingly cool Swedish label started out in denim, manufacturing 100 pairs of classic straight-legged, five-pocket raw denim jeans, complete with red stitching – “the Coca-Cola of fashion,” according to Jonny Johansson, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Acne Studios.
These were given to friends, family and some of Stockholm’s key influencers as a way of testing the market for their wares, and since that first highly successful foray, Acne Studios has gone on to consolidate its position within the sector.
The brand’s enduring appeal stems from its timeless and classic outlook when it comes to denim, as Johansson explained to Style.com: “I don’t like what you call the stereotypes of fashion, which would be the flare, the super-skinny. I like a five-pocket [style], and I’m not too much into fancy stuff… It has to be very straightforward for both men and women; I’m very [into the idea of] unisex.”
Johansson also disregards the common misconception that high quality jeans have to be made from Japanese selvedge. “I’m not too much into the whole selvedge Japanese denim phenomenon. I do like Japanese fabrics, but when it comes to heritage, re-creating a complete heritage never interested me.
“We work with a factory, which we’ve worked with for many, many years. They do a plain denim that I really like, it’s a twill denim.”
It’s this simple, no-fuss approach that has come to define the label, and cemented itself a legion of loyal fans.
Acne Studios: Denim Lookbook
Key Style: The Town Jean
The brand’s Town Jean is a classic five pocket design featuring a mid-rise, regular fit, button fly and slightly cropped leg that tapers from knee to hem.
Ticking all the characteristically Acne Studios boxes, the Town is minimal, versatile and unmistakably contemporary. Available in several washes, from white to jet black, its cropped hem gives you the chance to show off your footwear, so try teaming with a pair of no-show socks and on-trend leather trainers or penny loafers.
Available at Liberty and acnestudios.com, from £160
- Acne Studios Town Barros Beige Jeans
- Acne Studios Ace Legend Rinse
- Acne Studios Max Shadow
- Acne Studios Ace Ups Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Acne Studios Ace Dry-denim Jeans
- Acne Studios Max New Raw Slim-fit Dry-denim Jeans
- Acne Studios Vintage Wash Ace Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Acne Studios Roc Lana Straight Blue Jeans
- Acne Studios Light Blue Max Vintage Slim-fit Jeans
2. Frame Denim
Founded by a group of friends based between London’s Shoreditch and Los Angeles’ Venice Beach, Frame fuses the City of Angels’ heritage of quality denim manufacturing with London’s ever-present finger on the pulse – think unparalleled American denim in contemporary cuts, from slim- to relaxed straight-fits.
Since releasing its debut women’s jean, ‘Le Skinny’, in 2012, Frame has quickly gained a sizeable following – including a number of A-List celebrities – due to the breadth of styles it offers, as well as its collaborative projects with the likes of legendary photography duo Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin (see campaign imagery below).
This success has quickly translated over to its recently launched men’s line, which has already been seen worn by the likes of Kanye West, Drake and Mr Grey himself, Jamie Dornan.
Co-founders of the highly influential Saturday Group, who created Frame, Jens Grede and Erik Torstensson certainly have the right attitude when it comes to buying jeans: “Investment is key if you want your denim to last. Jeans are now a part of most people’s core wardrobe, so investing in good fit and fabric is vital.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Brand Campaign Images
Key Style: The Rincon
We’ve been tipped off that the brand’s Rincon slim-fit style is set to hit the big-time this season, thanks to its unbeatable combination of cutting-edge style and ease of wear.
The Rincon’s wash gives it that lightly distressed appearance that works perfectly with SS15’s 1970s vibes, while the fit is form-conscious enough to flatter but far from drainpipe skinny – meaning you’ll cut a good figure and still be able to move without having to constantly readjust both yourself and your jeans.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £235.
- Frame Denim Lhomme Cotswolds Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Frame Denim Lhomme Niagra Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Frame Denim Lhomme Placid Slim-fit Dry Denim Jeans
- Frame Denim Badlands Slim-fit Washed-denim Jeans
- Frame Denim Vinoodh Blue Moon Slim-fit Denim Jeans
- Frame Denim Vinoodh Black Magic Slim-fit Denim Jeans
3. Nudie Jeans Co
This Swedish brand may not be as new as some of its list mates, but its enduring quality, ethical approach to manufacturing and serious design credentials have seen it stand the test of time since first blowing the competition out of the water in 1999.
Although many companies are now producing so-called ‘green’ ranges – often simply to capitalise on consumers becoming more environmentally conscious – Nudie is one of only a handful of denim labels that has been certified 100 per cent organic, with the issue close to founder Maria Erixon’s heart: “Ever since we started, we had the vision of going 100 per cent organic. Back then all the ‘green’ clothing around was usually brown or sporty. We wanted to show that being green is not boring, that it’s crucial for the environment.”
This socially responsible approach extends to all aspects of the business, with Nudie recently launching a Production Guide, designed to encourage transparency and allow customers to get more information on the suppliers and subcontractors working for the brand, along with where the products are produced (split between Italy and Tunisia for jeans, FYI).
Yet that’s not all. To discourage wastage and encourage more sustainable consumption patterns, the label also offers a complimentary repairs service, where customers can have their old Nudie Jeans altered and repaired for free at Nudie Repair Shops worldwide.
Brand Campaign Images
Key Style: The Thin Finn
Nudie’s Thin Finn is a slim 1950s-inspired carrot jean. It continues to be a best seller for the brand since first being introduced in 2008, when there was little else like it on the market.
Featuring a regular rise waist, the Thin Finn tapers gradually from hip to hem, creating a striking silhouette that’s a breeze to wear.
This season’s Flood Used wash comes in a distressed mid-shade indigo colour that is in-keeping with menswear’s new rugged direction – play up to this by teaming with a check flannel shirt, shawl neck cardigan and desert boots.
Thin Finn Flood Used Jeans, available at nudiejeans.com, priced £120.
Still searching for your perfect cut? Erixson has some advice: “If you’re new to denim, I suggest you start with a regular fit and then consider something more adventurous later.”
If this applies to you, try the brand’s classic Slim Jim or Steady Eddie styles:
- Nudie Jeans Slim Jim Slim Fit Dry Black Wash
- Nudie Jeans Thin Finn Slim Fit Dusk Indigo Dark
- Nudie Jeans Tight Long John Skinny Fit Pure Blue Mid
- Nudie Jeans Tight Long John Slim-fit Washed-denim Jeans
- Nudie Jeans Grim Tim Slim-fit Organic Dry Denim Jeans
- Nudie Jeans Slim-fit Long John Organic Denim Jeans
- Nudie Jeans Grey Damaskus Steel Tight Long John
- Nudie Jeans Steady Eddie Organic Tonal Dry Jeans
- Nudie Jeans Tape Ted 16 Drips Dry Jeans
4. BLK DNM
Its name may read like some weird code from a plot twist-filled spy drama, but BLK DNM has already gained cult status among fans of indie-inspired jeans.
The brainchild of Johan Lindeberg – previously CEO of Diesel US and the personal stylist of Justin Timberlake, as well as the founder of eponymous lifestyle label J. Lindeberg (one of our 5 Swedish Brands You Should Know) – the Swedish-born designer says that BLK DNM is a reflection of his intuition, taste and lifestyle, and more personal than anything he has created before.
Steeped in classic rock ‘n’ roll references, the label takes its style cues from downtown Manhattan, where the label is based, as well as denim’s long-standing music affiliations.
BLK DNM Lookbook
Key Style: Hudson Slim-Fit
Striking the right balance between rockabilly and on-trend, BLK DNM’s Hudson grey slim-fit jeans are cut straight through the leg, so they’re fitted but not skin tight.
Featuring a mid-rise and silver-toned hardware, their grey wash makes them arguably more versatile than white or black styles. They’ll slot straight into most casual and smart-casual outfit combinations, but why not stay true to the brand’s rock-inflected roots by teaming with a leather biker jacket and some black chunky sole brogues?
Available at Selfridges, priced £150.
- Blk Dnm Fulton Skinny Slim-fit Jeans
- Blk Dnm Beekman Slim-fit Stretch-denim Jeans
- Blk Dnm Furnham Slim-fit Tapered Jeans
- Jeans 5 Blk Dnm
- Jeans 25 Blk Dnm
- Jeans 5 Blk Dnm
5. J Brand
Can’t quite kick the skinny fit? No harm in that. There’s a reason why skinny jeans still sell well for most denim brands and industry-leading designers like Hedi Slimane continue to endorse them – they offer an edge that slim- and straight-cuts can’t quite match.
Los Angeles-based J Brand, known mainly for its premium denim styles that proffer the same sophistication as a formal trouser, has long been a hit in the US since launching its men’s collection in 2008.
Jeff Rudes, co-founder and former CEO of the brand, stated in an interview with Business Of Fashion that the strategy of the label was always to “create the perfect fitting jean, which was classic, sophisticated and timeless” – ideals that will surely resonate with the FashionBeans reader and the brand continue to adhere to today, even after Rudes stepped down last year.
Fast Retailer Co. Ltd, the company that owns J Brand, has since brought in famed denim innovator François Girbaud, who is known as the ‘Godfather of Denim’. It seems the future direction of the label is in good hands.
J Brand Lookbooks
Key Style: Mick Blue Delta
Mick is a stretch twill skinny jean for guys that’s far more affordable than anything from Saint Laurent, and looks just as good.
Coming in a deep shade of indigo and featuring a regular rise and zip fly, these will team just as well with a smart blazer and button-down as they do a white tee and bomber jacket.
You might want to sleep in them for a night first though, just to loosen them up a bit.
Available at jbrandjeans.com, priced £165.
- J Brand Tyler Slim-fit Straight Jeans
- J Brand Skinny Destructed Washed Jeans
- J Brand Tyler Slim-fit Mid-rise Jeans
- J Brand Kane Straight Leg Jean
- J Brand Tyler Beacon Slim Leg Jean
- J Brand Tyler Slim Fit Jean
- J Brand Kane Slim Straight-leg Jeans
- J Brand Tyler Slim-leg Jeans
- J Brand Kane Straight-leg Jeans
Once a humble workerwear fabric, denim is rapidly becoming one of high fashion’s most favoured materials. And with the sheer number of brands and styles cropping up on the market, selecting a pair of jeans that fits and doesn’t cost the earth isn’t always straightforward.
However, look to these top tier brands and their signature styles and you’ll be off to an auspicious start.
What brand and/or style of jeans do you swear by? Are you more of a straight-fit selvedge or slim-fit sea-washed kind of guy?
Let us know in the comments section below.
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Image: Nudie Jeans Spring 2015