Last week we ran the first in series of posts on upcoming and new denim brands, and that brand was Simple Living, High Thinking Jeans, a company based in and working out of Zhonghsan, China. My initial impressions of SLHT Jeans were that they catered more for a younger and more fashion conscious crowd than I am used to being a part of, and though I appreciated their application it was my opinion that what they offered was more than likely not to my taste, then the samples arrived.
SLHT sent me samples of two of their raw denim cuts, the SLHTJ906 and the SLHTJ907, both jeans are made from their custom produced Chinese 12.5oz denim, both are reasonably slim tapered cuts. Both jeans feature some details which I am not used to seeing on jeans which I would normally buy for myself, the 906 cut has a waist band and pockets lined with a rather bright Hawaiian style patterned fabric, which is a nice weight and definitely adds to the comfort of the jeans, whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. I will take a look at the jeans individually before giving remarks in conclusion.
The 906 cut is described as a straight cut, I found it to be quite slim but this may be down to the tolerance between my Western bulk and sizing worked out for the Asian market. The denim is a custom made (for SHLT) 12.5oz denim made from Chinese cotton in Zhongshan province, it has a soft hand for what is quite a tight weave with a clearly visible white weft, the weave is smooth and consistent without runs or slabs and has a surface sheen from the starching process. Details on the jeans include fully lined pockets (all of them!), belt loops and waist band with a fabric which is sure to raise an eyebrow, personally I think it definitely adds to comfort but the colour and pattern will polarise opinion. The constructional stitching is done with what looks to be an olive dyed natural cotton, which is muted and works well with the uniform colour of the denim, all the hardware is brass and bares company logos and the jeans have a nice, wide “jade” selvedge. The highlight of the features for me is the oversized coin pocket which is made to accommodate and iPhone 5S, a real plus for me as I find actual coin pockets to be basically useless in normal wear, something however which is totally not to my taste is the “carpenter” style loop at the side of the right front pocket, this kind of over detailing really rolls my eyes on high street fashion jeans. The jeans also do not have a chain stitched hem, which I think will ultimately turn a few denim heads off.
The 907 cut is perhaps even slimmer that the 906, but is also described as straight, the cut descriptions are something which SLHT may wish to address for their sales in the west. On the surface this is a much more standard five pocket jean than the 906 with none of the crazy fabric lining or superfluous loops, it is made from the same 12.5oz Zhonghsan denim, features the same jade selvedge, but the detailing is much more subtle. The shape of the front pockets is interesting, almost a slash pocket but with a more scolloped edge, the “coin” pocket maintains its more contemporary use and in place of a pocket arc we find a raised pattern, which should lead to some interesting fades. The lining evident on the 906 cut is still in place and maintains the practical comfort whilst replacing the loud fabric with a much more muted, natural coloured canvas. Again there is no chain stitched hem in evidence.
In summary I was pleasantly surprised by these jeans from SLHT, they both have elements which are not to my taste in terms of over detailing but the denim is very nice and with minor changes I think they will find a western market. Personally, if it were my company, I would ditch the over detailing of loops etc.., use plain fabrics for lining pockets, loops and waist (I have no issue with coloured fabric, but patterned fabric is a no) and invest in sewing machines which can supply the stitch details that denim enthusiast look out for, particularly on the hem. To me these jeans showed me that clearly the passion and enthusiasm is there, but so is a certain naivety about their customers if they want to break out into the high end denim market, the building blocks are in place, the foundation is solid and there is work to be done to move SLHT up to the next level of quality. If they succeed in making these changes then they have shown me enough here to suggest that they could be a brand to watch in the coming months.