Most Common Types of Denim Damage (and How to Avoid Them)

Coincidentally, shortly after Jesse’s post last week on patching jeans, I received my 3sixteens back from Denim Therapy — one of the many shops nowadays that specializes in denim repairs. Like Jesse, I’ve had my jeans for about five years now — and although they’ve already seen a trip to Self Edge’s Darn It (another speciality repair place) — they’ve experienced some more wear-and-tear in the last year and needed fixing. So, I thought I’d do a post on the most common types of denim damage and how they can be repaired, as well as avoided altogether.  

Crotch Blowouts

Crotch blowouts refer to when you get holes in the place where you least want holes. To fix them, you can use any of the methods listed in Jesse’s post, although for this specific issue, I recommend darning. That’s when a specialist “reweaves” new threads into the material, using threads that most closely match your pants. This not only makes the repair nearly invisible (which is nice since this is, um, at your crotch), but it’s also much sturdier than patching. The downside? It’s also more expensive. 

How to avoid: Wash your jeans more often. It doesn’t have to be after every wear, but it’s the combination of dirt accumulating and the fabric rubbing against itself that causes blowouts. Those dirt particles act like tiny little razors, first thinning the material, and then finally breaking it open.

Other Holes 

Areas around the thighs and knees can also wear thin and eventually break. For these repairs, you can again refer to Jesse’s post. I personally like the slightly more ad hoc method of just patching thighs and knees with a piece of cloth. Jesse’s LVC jeans look great here. A local tailor should be able to do that for you for not too much money. And if the holes aren’t too big, you can also just leave them in, like I’ve done above. Personally, I think a hole or two can give a pair of jeans some character. 

How to avoid: Again, wash your jeans more often.

Stretched Buttonholes

Whether because you’ve gained weight or initially sized too far down, the buttonholes on your jeans can stretch with time. If the damage isn’t too bad, a local tailor can reinforce the area with new stitching. If it’s really stretched out, however, then you’ll need to get the area darned. I had the second done, and you can see the results above. 

How to avoid: Raw jeans are often a bit tight at first in the waist, but you don’t have to size so far down that things feel skin tight. Doing so will just put unnecessary stress on the buttonholes. 

Damage at the Cuffs

If you wash your jeans infrequently and leave them cuffed, you’ll find that the dirt that accumulates will eventually wear through at the crease. Unfortunately, the solutions here are less than ideal. You can get the cuffs darned, but the material will be stiff and hard to fold again (you use an iron to help them along). Otherwise, you can ride them out until the cuffs fall off, at which point, a tailor can put in a new hem (which is what I’d recommend).

How to avoid: Uncuff your pants every once in a while and brush out the dirt. You can use your hand (obviously), or a clothes brush. Having a clothes brush is handy if you have tailored clothes (suits, sport coats, the like), as that’s how they should be regularly cleaned

If you’re looking for a darning service, check out Self Edge’s Darn ItDenim Therapy, and Denim Surgeon. For more suggestions, check this SuperFuture thread dedicated to denim repairs.

Q & Answer: Patching Jeans
A reader who goes by Slendertroll asks: In your latest post about those gorgeous LVC jeans, you mentioned they had been patched a couple times. Can you recommend a specific product for doing this? I assume it was some sort of iron-on denim patch, but the ones I see online have quite mixed reviews.
There are a few ways to repair denim. You can reweave the fabric, use a sewn-in patch or use an iron-on patch.
As denim has grown into something that borders on a hobby, an industry has grown up around reweaving jeans. Companies like Denim Therapy use a process similar to sweater reweaving to essentially create a patch that’s woven into the fabric itself. This can be a little expensive ($8/inch in the case of Denim Therapy), but often the result is almost impossible to see.
Iron-on patches are probably the cheapest and easiest solution. Any fabric store has denim-colored iron-ons. These can be placed either on top of or behind damage (we recommend the former - the edges keep from peeling longer and it looks better). Super-strong heat activated adhesive keeps the patch in place. I’ve done this before, and the patch held well. One downside is that the patches can be a bit stiff - which can be a bit odd looking in bendy bits like knees and sometimes can lead to extra distress around the patch.
My jeans were patched the old-fashioned way. A seamstress simply backed the weakening fabric with a bit of similarly-colored cotton and sewed the hell out of it. The result isn’t invisible, but it is strong and flexible. In fact, when my jeans gave way below my pocket, I had her reinforce externally with a bit of pretty fabric. If you sew, this is a pretty straightforward process, but you can certainly have someone do it for you as well. Depending on your tailor or alterationist, the price of this could vary, but it generally won’t cost you much.
I think any of these three are pretty reasonable ways to go. I chose regular old patches for the same reason I chose raw denim. With clothing this casual, I’m not afraid to let the wear show a bit. As long as I can keep my jeans functional, a little wabi-sabi won’t hurt them.

Q & Answer: Patching Jeans

A reader who goes by Slendertroll asks: In your latest post about those gorgeous LVC jeans, you mentioned they had been patched a couple times. Can you recommend a specific product for doing this? I assume it was some sort of iron-on denim patch, but the ones I see online have quite mixed reviews.

There are a few ways to repair denim. You can reweave the fabric, use a sewn-in patch or use an iron-on patch.

As denim has grown into something that borders on a hobby, an industry has grown up around reweaving jeans. Companies like Denim Therapy use a process similar to sweater reweaving to essentially create a patch that’s woven into the fabric itself. This can be a little expensive ($8/inch in the case of Denim Therapy), but often the result is almost impossible to see.

Iron-on patches are probably the cheapest and easiest solution. Any fabric store has denim-colored iron-ons. These can be placed either on top of or behind damage (we recommend the former - the edges keep from peeling longer and it looks better). Super-strong heat activated adhesive keeps the patch in place. I’ve done this before, and the patch held well. One downside is that the patches can be a bit stiff - which can be a bit odd looking in bendy bits like knees and sometimes can lead to extra distress around the patch.

My jeans were patched the old-fashioned way. A seamstress simply backed the weakening fabric with a bit of similarly-colored cotton and sewed the hell out of it. The result isn’t invisible, but it is strong and flexible. In fact, when my jeans gave way below my pocket, I had her reinforce externally with a bit of pretty fabric. If you sew, this is a pretty straightforward process, but you can certainly have someone do it for you as well. Depending on your tailor or alterationist, the price of this could vary, but it generally won’t cost you much.

I think any of these three are pretty reasonable ways to go. I chose regular old patches for the same reason I chose raw denim. With clothing this casual, I’m not afraid to let the wear show a bit. As long as I can keep my jeans functional, a little wabi-sabi won’t hurt them.

LVC 1947s, Four (Nearly Five) Years In
Since my mom got them for me as a Christmas gift in 2009, these LVCs have been my go-to jeans, worn a few times a week. Once upon a time, they looked like this - raw and unwashed. For the first few years they were washed very rarely. For the last year or two, they go in the wash when they’re smelly, but still on cold with dark-clothes-specific detergent.
You can see in this photo that the crotch as worn thin and been patched, as has the right knee. At one point one of the buttonholes started to give way and had to be sewn back up. A month or so ago, the right thigh gave out, and I decided to throw some old Japanese cotton on top that I’d been saving for pocket squares. I did the same for the pocket, which was on its last legs.
As you can see from the stretching in the waistband, I may or may not have gained ten pounds since I bought them. The natural result of fatherhood, I suppose. Still, reinforced as they’ve been, I think they’ll last another few years.

LVC 1947s, Four (Nearly Five) Years In

Since my mom got them for me as a Christmas gift in 2009, these LVCs have been my go-to jeans, worn a few times a week. Once upon a time, they looked like this - raw and unwashed. For the first few years they were washed very rarely. For the last year or two, they go in the wash when they’re smelly, but still on cold with dark-clothes-specific detergent.

You can see in this photo that the crotch as worn thin and been patched, as has the right knee. At one point one of the buttonholes started to give way and had to be sewn back up. A month or so ago, the right thigh gave out, and I decided to throw some old Japanese cotton on top that I’d been saving for pocket squares. I did the same for the pocket, which was on its last legs.

As you can see from the stretching in the waistband, I may or may not have gained ten pounds since I bought them. The natural result of fatherhood, I suppose. Still, reinforced as they’ve been, I think they’ll last another few years.

Where is Bing Crosby’s Denim Tux?
There’s a great tale in the San Francisco Chronicle today about Bing Crosby’s denim tuxedo. The story is as follows: in the early 1950s, Bing Crosby and a friend went fishing. At the end of the day, they tried to book rooms in a local hotel, but were turned away by the clerk, because Crosby was wearing a beat-up denim jacket. A hotel manager recognized Crosby and corrected the error, but the story went the equivalent of viral.
Back in San Francisco, the folks at Levi’s heard the story, and so they made Crosby a custom denim tuxedo, with a boutonniere of Levi’s labels. Crosby liked it so much, he wore it while promoting his new movie, and it became something of a legend.
Crosby’s niece has been searching for the tux for years. Complicating matters are the many replicas Levi’s made for shop windows at the time. In fact, Levi’s Vintage Clothing recently made a new set of reproductions in a very limited quantity.
She says she knows the difference, and Levi’s has given her a letter that attests to her knowledge, but she won’t tell anyone, because one of the imposters might be altered.
Will she find her “holy grail”? Only time will tell.

Where is Bing Crosby’s Denim Tux?

There’s a great tale in the San Francisco Chronicle today about Bing Crosby’s denim tuxedo. The story is as follows: in the early 1950s, Bing Crosby and a friend went fishing. At the end of the day, they tried to book rooms in a local hotel, but were turned away by the clerk, because Crosby was wearing a beat-up denim jacket. A hotel manager recognized Crosby and corrected the error, but the story went the equivalent of viral.

Back in San Francisco, the folks at Levi’s heard the story, and so they made Crosby a custom denim tuxedo, with a boutonniere of Levi’s labels. Crosby liked it so much, he wore it while promoting his new movie, and it became something of a legend.

Crosby’s niece has been searching for the tux for years. Complicating matters are the many replicas Levi’s made for shop windows at the time. In fact, Levi’s Vintage Clothing recently made a new set of reproductions in a very limited quantity.

She says she knows the difference, and Levi’s has given her a letter that attests to her knowledge, but she won’t tell anyone, because one of the imposters might be altered.

Will she find her “holy grail”? Only time will tell.

From the New Yorker:

It now appears… that jeans savaged by wild animals are a trend in designer sportswear. A Japanese denim brand had the bright idea, at least for raising its profile, of sewing indigo-dyed cotton fabric around rimless tires, sausage-shaped bolsters, and fat rubber balls, and throwing the objects to the inmates of the Kamine Zoo, in Hitachi City. In an accompanying video, the beasts bound from their cages and fall upon their novel chew toys with such relish that you have to wonder if there isn’t a little catnip involved. The scene reminded me of toddlers on Christmas morning, tumbling down the stairs, unable to contain their excitement, and tearing into the neatly wrapped parcels under the tree.
When the fabric has been properly “distressed” — i.e., mauled — it is retrieved from the enclosures and made into trousers that are sold under the label Zoo Jeans.




-Pete

From the New Yorker:

It now appears… that jeans savaged by wild animals are a trend in designer sportswear. A Japanese denim brand had the bright idea, at least for raising its profile, of sewing indigo-dyed cotton fabric around rimless tires, sausage-shaped bolsters, and fat rubber balls, and throwing the objects to the inmates of the Kamine Zoo, in Hitachi City. In an accompanying video, the beasts bound from their cages and fall upon their novel chew toys with such relish that you have to wonder if there isn’t a little catnip involved. The scene reminded me of toddlers on Christmas morning, tumbling down the stairs, unable to contain their excitement, and tearing into the neatly wrapped parcels under the tree.

When the fabric has been properly “distressed” — i.e., mauled — it is retrieved from the enclosures and made into trousers that are sold under the label Zoo Jeans.

-Pete

A BBC documentary on one of the most popular, classic, and influential garments of all time: Levis’ 501 jeans. Well worth a watch. 

(via Gwarizm)

Rugged Belts For Jeans

There’s probably a theory about why a guy my size would like such rugged belts (overcompensating for something, perhaps?), but regardless — lately I’ve come to really like Don’t Mourn Organize, a small, one-man operation based in Utah that makes custom leather goods. Eight months ago, I had Scott, the owner of the company, make me a harness leather belt cut to a 0.25” thickness. It’s thicker than your average belt, but not so thick that it’d be too tough to break in. The color of the leather was originally an unwearable pale beige, but quickly darkened to a light brown after I applied two or three coats of Obeanuf’s LP. It’s since darkened further, to a solid mid-shade of brown, after eights months of regular wear and use. You can see how it looks now in the photo above.

I’ve enjoyed the belt so much that I recently ordered another — this time a two-layer horsehide “Clint stitch” belt that’s so named because the stitching pattern is modeled after something Clint Eastwood wore in one of his movies. I find the Western style goes well with a canvas RRL jacket I own, while the plainer, harness leather belt looks better with heavy leather jackets.

Scott’s belts are beautifully rugged and uncommonly thick. These are not the type of belts you’d wear with dressy chinos or wool trousers. They’re what you wear with denim, fatigues, or heavy workwear pants. Being as thick as they are, there’s something satisfying about cinching up a belt that’s as rugged as your jeans or boots, and it’s great to see how the leather acquires a natural patina over time. You can order one of Scott’s belts in any color you wish, but for me, the joy is all in getting that natural colored leather that darkens with age. Much like how guys like the process of breaking in their raw denim and seeing how it fades, this is essentially the same thing, except that leather gets darker when you treat it to oil and conditioner, and as it gets exposed to sunlight. 

Simple belts like the one I first bought cost $65. The Clint stitch belt ran me $75 (shipping included in both prices). Everything is custom made, so if you want some tweak in the design, Scott can usually accommodate.

To see more photos of the Clint stitch belt, you can check out this post at StyleForum. For photos of Scott’s work in general, check out this thread at Iron Heart’s forum

The Meaning of Selvedge Then and Now

Following Jesse’s great post last week on selvedge denim, I thought I’d share some scans from an old 1997 issue of Continental Restyling — an important lifestyle magazine for the Hepcat scene from 1993 until 2000. This was a publication for people passionate about 1950s American culture, rockabilly music, and a certain style of vintage clothes (e.g. circle skirts, rock’n’roll shirts, Hawaiian shirts, and blue jeans). In this issue (now almost 20 years old, if you can believe), we see what the selvedge stripe used to mean to a certain group of vintage clothing enthusiasts. 

What Selvedge Used to Mean to Some People

In his article titled “Blue Jeans: The Hepcat’s Guide to Vintage Denim,” Thommy Burns writes:

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen young Hepcats (guys and girls) who have taken the time to seek out the right shirts, jackets, shoes, etc. only to have their blue jeans be the missing link. Let me tell you, vintage jeans are very different to those available today and are an important key to achieving an authentic look. Jeans in the ‘50s were made with different dyes (believe it or not) and different fabric to those today – they look different when new and the differences become more apparent when they’re worn in.

[…]

Levi’s are my personal favourites. They have always been the world’s most popular jeans and therefore more Cats wore them in the ‘50s, it just stands to reason. Vintage Levi’s have a beautiful ultra-dark indigo colour that gets a distinct and attractive “streaky” grain as it fades.

And how do you spot vintage Levi’s? Well, there are a few things you can look for, but important among them is the selvedge stripe:

Another important facet of vintage Levi’s is the selvedge edge the fabric, visible on a turn up. This is a finished white edge inside the pants, on the outer seam. […] All Levi’s made up to the 1960s had selvedge, this makes it an integral part of an authentic ‘50s look.

What Selvedge Means Today

Jesse’s right when he says that turning up your cuffs to show the little selvedge stripe means “I care.” This was true for vintage clothing enthusiasts in Japan in the ’80s and it’s true for denim enthusiasts today. 

It used to mean other things as well, however. It used to mean not only that the denim was woven on narrower shuttle looms, but also something specific about what kind of dyes were used, how the yarns were dyed, and how the resulting jeans were finished. In other words, people cared about that little selvedge stripe because it meant something about how the jeans would fade (sound familiar?). It was an indication of a greater set of production choices, originally made in the mid-century by companies such as Levi’s and Lee. 

Today, companies can produce selvedge denim in ways that was never done in the early- to mid-century. Generally speaking, the presence of that little stripe still means that the jeans are meant to fade a certain way, but exactly how those jeans fade is a lot more variable. The connection between selvedge and the broader picture of production methods has evolved a lot over time. 

Reducing Clothes to Details

There are dozens of companies now offering selvedge denim. Some even offer “fake selvedge jeans,” where a strip of selvedge is sewn onto the bottom of the cuffs, so they can be flipped up and made to look fashionable.

So what’s the difference between one pair of jeans and another? As Jesse noted, everything. Selvedge denim jeans are defined not just by that little stripe, but also what kind of cotton was used, how that cotton was spun into yarn, how those yarns were dyed, how those dyed yarns were woven into denim, how that denim was made into jeans, and how those resulting jeans were treated in the “finishing” process. All those aspects will determine how a pair of jeans will fade and age over time, and it’s for this quality why some people will choose one pair over another. 

Which for me, says something about how we view clothes. Presumably, we got to this place because people reduced jeans to just that little stripe — whether because they equated selvedge with quality, or because they heard selvedge stripes were fashionable right now. This gave companies more of an incentive to produce. As Jesse mentioned, you can buy selvedge denim nowadays for $40 from Converse, $89 from The Gap, or $350 from The Flat Head. In some ways, I think this is great, as not everyone can (or wants to) spend a lot of money on jeans, and it’s good to have options. 

On the other hand, it’s useful to remember there’s no “one thing” that will ever tell you the whole story about a garment. That “thing” can include country-of-origin labels, care tags that say 100% cashmere, stitches that look to be hand sewn, buttonholes that are working on sleeves, and little colored stripes on jeans. Clothing production is much more complicated than what those things reveal. When deciding what to purchase, think about the bigger picture of how something was made and don’t rely on just one detail.

What Is Selvedge Denim? Why Does A Selvedge Matter?
I grew up in a fabric-obsessed house. My mom dedicated a whole bedroom to an enormous pedal loom, and when we were broke, she’d trade scarves and shawls for haircuts. She doesn’t have a loom anymore, but she still buys and sells vintage fabric on the side. The sound of a clattering shuttle and the hand of a beautiful fabric are baked into my DNA.
The selvedge (or selvage) in “selvedge denim” is a question of weaving, but it’s also a question of symbolism. I’ll explain.
The Woven Difference
Let’s start with the technical. Fabric is woven by a loom. Shuttle looms, which were the standard until the mid-20th century, weave a relatively narrow length of fabric, with finished edges. The edges are called the selvedge. You can see them above - they’re the things with the colorful stripes.
Without a selvedge, a seam like the ones above would have to be finished with thread. Turn a t-shirt inside-out and you’ll see edges finished this way. The role of the finishing here is to prevent the weave from unraveling at the fabric’s edge.
The Loom Diaspora
Shuttle looms fell out of broad use in the years after World War II, when more efficient technologies were developed. These new projectile looms didn’t require a bulky shuttle and could produce much wider lengths of fabric. As demand for jeans (and in turn, denim) ramped up, it was met by these new, hyper-efficient machines. But: wide fabric lengths and superfast industrial machines mean that instead of using the woven edges that the old looms wove, fabric was cut and the edges bound with thread. That’s still how the fabric edges of most mass-market jeans are finished today.
As these new machines were introduced, the old machines were decommissioned, and the story goes that over the years, many found their way to Japan, where some had landed in the post World War reconstruction. (Whether that story’s true is a matter of debate.) In the 1980s, an artisinal denim movement, fueled by a passion for Americana, emerged in the far East, and in the 2000s, it found its way to the US. At the same time, America’s textile production was dwindling to nearly nothing.
Selvedge As Cultural Signifier
The selvedge became a cultural signifier. Japanese enthusiasts could turn their cuff slightly to show that they either had vintage jeans - made when the old looms were still in service - or they had new jeans made from fabric woven on old looms. In large part, that’s still what the selvedge means today. Sure, the selvedge edge is a little less likely to fray than the bound edge, but when was the last time the edge of the fabric in your jeans frayed?
When you pay for selvedge, you’re buying a symbolic message that you care, and a message from the manufacturer that they do, too. Here’s a parallel: traditionally, the bottom-most buttonhole of a shirt has been horizontally oriented. It maybe has some practical purpose, but mostly the presence of that horizontal buttonhole means: “I care,” for both wearer and manufacturer.
So Why Does It Matter?
These days, you can buy selvedge denim for $40 from Converse, $89 from The Gap or $350 from The Flat Head. The fabrics and details on these jeans are likely very different. The design choices and cut are different. The marketing is different. Almost everything, in other words, can be different.
The thing they share is that little colored stripe.

What Is Selvedge Denim? Why Does A Selvedge Matter?

I grew up in a fabric-obsessed house. My mom dedicated a whole bedroom to an enormous pedal loom, and when we were broke, she’d trade scarves and shawls for haircuts. She doesn’t have a loom anymore, but she still buys and sells vintage fabric on the side. The sound of a clattering shuttle and the hand of a beautiful fabric are baked into my DNA.

The selvedge (or selvage) in “selvedge denim” is a question of weaving, but it’s also a question of symbolism. I’ll explain.

The Woven Difference

Let’s start with the technical. Fabric is woven by a loom. Shuttle looms, which were the standard until the mid-20th century, weave a relatively narrow length of fabric, with finished edges. The edges are called the selvedge. You can see them above - they’re the things with the colorful stripes.

Without a selvedge, a seam like the ones above would have to be finished with thread. Turn a t-shirt inside-out and you’ll see edges finished this way. The role of the finishing here is to prevent the weave from unraveling at the fabric’s edge.

The Loom Diaspora

Shuttle looms fell out of broad use in the years after World War II, when more efficient technologies were developed. These new projectile looms didn’t require a bulky shuttle and could produce much wider lengths of fabric. As demand for jeans (and in turn, denim) ramped up, it was met by these new, hyper-efficient machines. But: wide fabric lengths and superfast industrial machines mean that instead of using the woven edges that the old looms wove, fabric was cut and the edges bound with thread. That’s still how the fabric edges of most mass-market jeans are finished today.

As these new machines were introduced, the old machines were decommissioned, and the story goes that over the years, many found their way to Japan, where some had landed in the post World War reconstruction. (Whether that story’s true is a matter of debate.) In the 1980s, an artisinal denim movement, fueled by a passion for Americana, emerged in the far East, and in the 2000s, it found its way to the US. At the same time, America’s textile production was dwindling to nearly nothing.

Selvedge As Cultural Signifier

The selvedge became a cultural signifier. Japanese enthusiasts could turn their cuff slightly to show that they either had vintage jeans - made when the old looms were still in service - or they had new jeans made from fabric woven on old looms. In large part, that’s still what the selvedge means today. Sure, the selvedge edge is a little less likely to fray than the bound edge, but when was the last time the edge of the fabric in your jeans frayed?

When you pay for selvedge, you’re buying a symbolic message that you care, and a message from the manufacturer that they do, too. Here’s a parallel: traditionally, the bottom-most buttonhole of a shirt has been horizontally oriented. It maybe has some practical purpose, but mostly the presence of that horizontal buttonhole means: “I care,” for both wearer and manufacturer.

So Why Does It Matter?

These days, you can buy selvedge denim for $40 from Converse, $89 from The Gap or $350 from The Flat Head. The fabrics and details on these jeans are likely very different. The design choices and cut are different. The marketing is different. Almost everything, in other words, can be different.

The thing they share is that little colored stripe.

We Got It For Free: 3sixteen’s Double Black Jeans

I wear “tailored” clothes about half the week (i.e. sport coats, dress shirts, wool trousers, and the like), but for the other half, I dress pretty casually. Lately, that’s surprisingly meant black jeans. I off-handedly mentioned on Twitter once that I’d like to get a pair, and Andrew at 3sixteen kindly offered to gift me one of theirs.

I received them about a year ago, and admit they sat untouched in my closet for a while until I figured what to wear with them. Once I found some combinations I liked, however, they’ve been in regular rotation at least once or twice a week. On cool days, I like to wear them with a heathered grey sweatshirt and slightly pebbled, black leather A-2. For warmer weather, I swap out the sweatshirt for a grey or white t-shirt, or ditch the jacket completely and just use an old chambray. I find golden tan leather accessories - such as wallets and belts - tend to work better than dark brown. White sneakers make for an easy pairing, but I’ve come to like black boots and sneakers as well. And, for what it’s worth, I’ve found that I like the legs a bit longer, so they “stack,” rather than having them cuffed like I do on my indigo jeans. 

As many readers know, denim, like all fabrics, is woven with yarns running lengthwise (known as the warp), and transverse threads running the width (known as the weft). Typically, the blue warps are the first to “give out,” which is why good denim fades to a “streaky” white/ blue color over time.

3sixteen uses this fact to achieve different effects in each of their four black jean models. Their “Shadow Selvedge,” for example, has indigo warp and black weft yarns, which mean they start out looking black(ish), but fade to a beautiful high-contrast blue over time. The “Black Two Tones” are made with a black warp and white weft, so it behaves similarly to a “regular” pair of jeans. And the “Black Hexes” and “Double Blacks” (the second of which is what I have) use black yarns for both the warp and weft, which means they’re more resistant to fading, but eventually turn to a really nice grey with enough wear.

Each model is cut in their standard slim tapered (ST) and straight legged (SL) patterns. And, like the rest of their line, everything is made in the USA from an exclusive fabric they have woven for them by Japan’s Kuroki Mills. (This is notable because many companies use the same fabrics as everyone else). There are also nice details, such as custom detailed buttons, gunmetal rivets, and a uniquely high-quality leather used for the back patch. 

Casual wear today largely means jeans and chinos, and in some circles, it can even mean just jeans. Style enthusiasts have written a lot on the usefulness of white and light blue denim. I’d add black to that list. They’re a bit “edgier” than the other two alternatives, and give some appreciable diversity to a genuinely casual wardrobe. They also make you look much tougher than you are, which is useful if you’re a grad student who spends his free time blogging about how people can look much tougher than they are.