Discerning denim aficionado beautiful_Freak lays hands on Sauce Zhan denim, made in China, and gives it some serious scrutiny to see how it measures up against the best in the business.
I really had a hard time to decide how to write this review. Sauce Zhan offers besides regular models also an option for custom jeans. And I took this option of a custom pair of jeans. Specifying the denim he should use, the details and even gave him “instructions” regarding the cut.
I wanted Evisu-like details that would be two-tone stitching, offset belt loops and a crotch rivet (yeah I like that quirky detail). I referred to his model 313XX for which the Evisu #2000 No.1 already acted as a model. For the denim, I also wanted the denim he used for his 313XX as the fading samples where exactly my cup of tea. That fabric was gone so he used a different one and told me so. No biggie since he said the denim would be comparable.
For the fit, I gave him measurements of Ooe Yofukuten’s 02 cut (’66 inspired). Yes, I really lack in own creativity…
When I finally received the package (due to problems in transferring the money to China, thankfully solved by Gavin) I opened it, took the jeans out of it, held those jeans in my hand and…had something distinctly different in my hands. First thing I noticed, no crotch rivet. Two-tone stitching? Yes, but not everywhere I would have expected it. And the fit? Well, noticeably slimmer just by the look of it. And a much lower rise. But the denim felt nice!
So, to sum it up, I got a pair of jeans with not entirely matching details, a different fit than ordered but nice denim.
A review from the standpoint of “Denim Customization” (as he stamps it on his pocket bags) would leave Sauce Zhan with a rating that would leave much to be desired. Maybe 3/10 or 4/10.
But this wouldn’t do Sauce Zhan or his craftsmanship justice! That is why I will review the pants I received as objective as I can.
One of the most important things in a pair of jeans is the fit. If the fit isn’t right you will never be happy wearing the jeans no matter how nice the denim and details are.
Although the cut is quite different to what I specified, I really like the fit! This pair features mid to mid/low rise, generous top block with a prominent taper that results in quite a modern silhouette. Advantage of the lower rise: the jeans sit below my belly on my hips. Still high enough so I don’t show a plumber’s crack. The thigh&top block allow for a comfortable fit and movement without restrictions and thanks to the taper you get a slim fit.
In the end I would say I like this modern fit better than I might have liked the fit I asked for…
This is where Sauce Zhan definitely wins. He used a 14,5 oz denim made of XinJiang cotton and woven in the south of China. It is an unsanforized denim according to Sauce Zhan and also my friend Gavin says it is a loomstate fabric. I’d like disagree on the loomstate. The fabric has a very flat feel to it, you hardly notice any bumps when you stroke over the fabric although you can see the irregularities in the denim. So maybe the denim got pressed after weaving?
It is a hairy and fluffy denim so it surely hasn’t been singed and since it shrank with a soak the denim should be unsanforized or only partially sanforized. All in all, the feel of the fabric reminds me of Skull Jeans partially sanforized 6×6 denim.
After the soak the fibres/hairs got more prominent and the denim got a rougher feel to it. But still soft to touch.
Now we are at it. Sauce Zhan doesn’t save on details. He knows what wearers of raw denim like to see and I am sure he got educated by studying the Japanese brands. So I would say let’s start from the top.
Nice buttons with the engraving “International World Jeans” which I already saw used on jeans from smaller Japanese brands. V-stitch next to the top button.
The copper rivets are engraved with his own lettering. They are from the pointy type you know from your pre-‘60s jeans.
The hidden rivets are, from Universal.
Raised belt loops. And raised to a point where it is borderline gimmicky. It looks and feels like he really put a rope in those belt loops like e.g. Ande Whall did some time ago. And since you can feel that something moves inside the belt loops I see my theory confirmed. From my understanding the Japanese brands create this raised effect by just folding the denim while sewing. But the stitching on the belt loops is not entirely even.
Hidden coin-pocket selvedge without peek-a-boo.
Two-tone stitching on the front pocket entries and on the fly. But not on the belt loops, yoke stitching or back pockets. So not Evsiu-like.
Chainstitch at the hem which reveals a rather reserved roping after the initial soak. But I am sure it will get better with future washes.
The jeans come with a beefy leather patch. Honestly, I dislike to thick leather patches and especially on this 14,5oz denim I find it too much. I can understand and accept such thich patches on 20+oz jeans.
Now we come to the other major aspect of jeans, especially when talk about “Made in China” jeans (because they have that savour): the construction!
First off, I haven’t noticed loose threads or the like. The construction looks and feels solid on first sight. There are however smaller flaws.
The button hole stitching is rather thin/loose. But as long as it holds up there is no need to argue.
The bartacks at the belt loops are not perfectly executed and a bit skewed. But I think the rope inside the belt loops causes this.
Like I wrote earlier, the stitching on the belt loops is also not even as you can see above. There is more denim on the right side of the stitching compared to the denim on the left side.
The inseam is constructed in a way I haven’t seen before (or just haven’t noticed). The very obvious double chainstitch. Also a bit skewed.
So yes, there are some minor flaws but so what? Those jeans are hand-made. The most important thing is that they will hold up against wear and tear and only time will tell. An uneven stitching doesn’t matter as long as the durability is there and the integrity of the jeans isn’t questioned.
So finally, how would I rate Sauce Zhan jeans?
Honestly, the customization part is tricky since there is still the language barrier and I think the outcome of my pair was due to this.
But the fit, denim and construction of the denim is where it needs to be. Because you mustn’t forget the price. I really think they are worth their price and when you buy one of his standard models or a model designed by someone to be produced in great quantities (wink Gavin 😉 ), you will get a product that don’t have to hide against the usual “entry” brands.
Unfortunately, I will wear a different pair of jeans for the next years in the DWC (Denim World Championships) but I am sure Gavin will surely show you that those Sauce Zhan jeans can take some abuse.
Editors note: Unfortunately I won’t be wearing Sauce Zhan for the contest either, as my pair will be mailed around to retailers as a sample.