Is Raw Denim Really Worth the Price? One Man’s Perspective
As a kid I lived in jeans and a t-shirt. And although I’ve ‘grown up’ and a lot has changed, the uniform has remained the same. But recently, I noticed that when I shop for jeans, every pair felt thin and (dare I say) “cheaper” than when I was a kid. The material seems lighter, the label indicates that they’ve been pre-washed (to avoid shrinkage) and sometimes pre-faded and/or pre-wrinkled. As often is the case in fashion, someone gets overzealous in their quest for “newness” and decides to mess with a perfectly good formula, overthinks it and ultimately the product/brand suffers.
It’s not just that I miss the heft of the jeans of my youth; now I ride a motorcycle so I need hardy jeans to protect me from wind, rain, cold and to last as long as possible (all the while looking good enough to wear to work). I searched for a long time for anything that would meet my higher standards (which ironically was the ONLY standard when I was a kid). It proved more difficult to find in the price range I was comfortable with ($90-$120). In fact, it wasn’t until I got up to the substantially higher price range of $160-$190 that I could find the tougher cloth that I was looking for. First I opted for Dutch brand G-Star. Not my ideal brand (a little too fancy and a little over my budget) but I thought I’d give it a shot. I bought a pair of their organic waxed denim, wore them for a few years and they seemed to do the trick. However, back then I was still washing jeans every two weeks, I started to see the degradation that was happening to my overpriced jeans. I decided to opt for a new strategy my wife had written about and NEVER wash my jeans. I would let them wear out naturally, and barring a black coffee, glass of red wine or gasoline spilling on them they should last a lifetime. When I went back to purchase a new pair of my new favorite jeans, I found that G-Star didn’t offer them anymore. The quest continued.
Eventually I discovered a brand called Civilianaire out of California (made in LA). Were they expensive? Hell yea. Was their store curated by a turbo-hipster that had a PHD in “retail” and specifically high-thread count jeans? Again, yea. BUT, they were made from organically sourced cotton, they had the deep blue color that I love so much and the high end of their line boasted 13.5oz Raw Denim jeans that claimed to last forever, providing I don’t wash them often (if at all). I decided to take the plunge. I threw down for the $200+ jeans and couldn’t have been happier. They were thick, un-shrunk, unwashed, and stiff as hell. They seemed bulletproof. A hefty price tag, but if you only need one pair of jeans then it all evens out. I also found that I could get them on sale periodically once I knew which size and shape fit me.
Funny story – when I first got them, the raw denim were so slippery that one day I was on the subway sitting at one end of the bench seats, and when the train came to a sudden halt, I slid all the way down to the other end colliding with a total stranger to which I stated “sorry man, it’s the jeans”.
As it turns out this equation evolved yet again. Although I was super happy with my Civilianaires, eventually I need a little cuff stitch-work and was having a hard time finding someone that would do the work and not ruin an expensive pair of jeans with a makeshift patch that didn’t match the quality or color. So I decided to experiment with the Swedish brand Nudie as they have a similar fit, thread count and quality that I need (still at that price point) but with the addition of an in-store tailor that will repair or adjust any of their products anytime you need it. So to me, it’s been worth it.
And although I detest having to pay so much for jeans, I feel like it’s a better option than paying less for a lower quality product (isn’t there an expression – buy less, choose well, make it last?) Buying more pairs because they wear out faster, and participating in overconsumption of fast fashion and waste, just wasn’t working for me anymore.Disclaimer: although this Mr. Black is indeed married to our editor-in-chief, this is not a sponsored post. This article reflects his own opinion and each pair of jeans mentioned was paid for (at full price).