Why do we like nice things? Nice things make us feel good about ourselves and that includes our lovely expensive Japanese denim, but sometimes it makes us feel something else…something darker…something altogether human…..superior. I’m putting my hand up here and saying that I’m one of those people who looks at peoples jeans, checks out the label and has a smug internal grin to myself that they are wearing, what I am confident in telling myself are, inferior jeans !!! It is human nature to want to be better than others in some way or another, bigger house, faster car, more tattoos, better physique, anything which gives us the comfort of being better than others, and jeans are no different. This feeling isn’t healthy though, and by doing this are we not increasing the void between us and our denim wearing brothers and sisters? Should we not instead try to raise them up to our level of denim nirvana? Well, there are some options to set you on the path to indigo enlightenment which are not so exclusive.
To make this clear I am not talking about price here, because much of the everyday denim I see which gets my distain is far from cheap. I am talking about good denim which happens to be readily available and not just from esoteric retailers with funky names and artistic pictures of bald, ginger men adorning their polished facades. I am talking about commonly available denim which though maybe not milled in the heartlands of Kojima is certainly of decent quality to wear and age well. Lets have a look at a few examples.
Uniqlo Japanese Selvedge is a model which is released every year by Japanese retailer Uniqlo all over the world. It comes in regular dark denim, black denim and sometimes even washed denim and in straight and slim cuts. The denim is milled in Japan, weighs in at about 11oz and is of very reasonable quality for the price. In the UK they retail for between £55 and £60, which is cheaper than a pair of European made Levis 501 from department stores or the Levis shop (these sell for around £70 – £90). The Uniqlo Japanese selvedge is in my opinion the best readily available, relatively cheap, Japanese made jeans out there.
GAP 69 Selvedge is the standard selvedge line which has been sold by GAP for the last 10 years. In Europe it is made using good quality ISKO denim from Turkey. They come in a variety of cuts and washes, not all of which are available in all stores and some are better than others. Nevertheless it is possible to find a decent pair of jeans in there for not a great deal of money if you fall lucky.
Levis made and crafted range is available from most Levis stores throughout the world, in Europe it is again made using good quality Turkish ISKO denim, just like the later model LVC range of 501’s. Many of the jeans in this range are not selvedge, but are still a nice pair of jeans which will age and wear well. The prices here vary in the UK between £69 and £120 depending on the model.
H&M Selvedge jeans are available in some of the larger stores in cities all over Europe, the denim in supplied by Denim International of Pakistan, which (believe it or not) is the worlds biggest producer of denim and is headquartered in a huge, modern facility on the outskirts of Karachi. The jeans are available in dark wash or light wash however a word of warning that the jeans are sewn in Bangladesh so their ethics are perhaps questionable.
The point here I guess being that good jeans are available readily, and whilst the majority of them might not be hank, dyed, left hand twill or milled on a mystical mountain top using dragons teeth, they are still a decent pair of jeans. Like most things it is a matter of education and awareness, and yes taste. I will not sneer at denim such as those listed above, the smugness tends to be brought on by people I see wearing jeans made by one of the more traditional designers, knowing that these folks have paid an inordinate amount of money for something which has been produced cheaply and far from ethically. I would go so far as to say that my interest in denim and jeans makes me view the issue in this way, but the same can be said of any people who are knowingly being ripped off with high priced inferior products. In the age of the internet and the freedom of information that brings there is simply no excuse not to be educated before making a purchase, unless you simply don’t care.