There is no other piece of apparel that has impacted the fashion world quite like a pair of jeans. Levi Strauss & Co. claims the first pair of denim pants, dating back to 1873. Back then, jeans were adopted as workwear rather than a fashion statement because the fabric was cheap and durable.
Eventually, though, James Dean, Elvis Presley, and Marlon Brando would come along and change the perception of denim. Thanks to these two style icons, denim would go from working clothes to leisurewear as a symbol of youthful rebellion in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
In the years since, nearly every trend we have seen has roots in denim. The hippie revolution saw flares explode onto the scene in the ‘70s, whereas the ‘80s saw designer denim like Calvin Klein blow up with skirts and ripped jeans. The ‘90s saw hip-hop adopt the iconic pants in baggy cuts and as dungarees. And today, Japan dominates the industry thanks to its premium construction and finishing techniques that produce Selvedge denim.
You can combine the versatile pants with shirts, knitwear, or simply a white tee and be ready for almost any occasion. The more you wear jeans, the more comfortable they become, too, which is a significant plus for anybody not looking to replace them after a few wears. Most workplaces look set to continue offering employees a more lenient dress code for the foreseeable future, thus making denim jeans the perfect option for in and out of office hours.
The market does continue to become oversaturated, though, thanks to every brand wanting in on denim. And who can blame them? The current value of the denim industry sits at $70 Billion worldwide. That doesn’t mean that every pair on the market deserves a place in your rotation, though.
So, how are you supposed to know what pair of jeans you need to be wearing? From various fits to alternating washes, we break down every pair of jeans you need in your wardrobe today.
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The only place to start a list of the must-have jeans is with the classic straight leg. A timeless fit ready for day-to-day wear, the straight leg jean fits perfectly with loafers, sneakers, mules, and anything in between. Of course, the master of straight leg denim is Levi's. The 501 dates back to 1873 and has only gotten better over time. The iconic pants come in a wide range of washes and colous. The 501 is also available with various tweaks such as cropped or stretch-fit, depending on how you like to wear yours.
The 501 features a straight leg, classic five-pocket design, and the iconic Levi Strauss & Co. leather logo patch to the rear. This pair of jeans started it all, and its timeless appearance is as fashionable today as it was back in the 1800s. As the perfect starting point for any outfit, the Levi's 501 should be the first pair of jeans in everybody's wardrobe.
The carpenter knee isn't always at the forefront of the conversation when people discuss jeans. Perhaps it’s because they look a little too much like workwear, or maybe you just haven't found an outfit you love when sporting the unique pants. But trust us, you need a pair in your collection.
The double knee pants earn their name thanks to the patch of denim that covers the knees of the jeans. That additional patchwork initially offered the wearer extra protection when kneeling for various tasks. In recent years, though, the fashion forward have adopted the aesthetically pleasing carpenter knee pants, with mood boards across the globe featuring the trousers.
That’s where Carhartt comes in.
The workwear extraordinaire has perfected the carpenter knee pant, made with sturdy mid-wash denim and featuring tool pockets and hammer loops. Please don't panic — you don’t actually need to use these pockets, though. Pair the carpenter pants with loafers and a shirt to elevate the double knee design and reimagine what workwear can look like.
A cut once reserved for the skaters among us, wide-leg jeans are now as essential in your rotation as the straight leg. With sneaker culture bigger than ever, this fit has become a sneakerhead's best friend because the wider hem highlights classic silhouettes like the Air Jordan 1 or New Balance 550 flawlessly.
The nostalgic cut features a wider fit from hip to toe with an intentionally baggy shape. Swedish-based fashion label Acne Studios currently offer one of the best loose fit jeans, using organic cotton and a light wash for a premium finish.
It’s time to embrace the ‘90s trend and add wide-leg jeans to your wardrobe. While you're rolling back the years, why not switch on the Playstation and get Tony Hawk's Pro Skater on, too? You won't regret it.
Selvedge denim had a serious moment in the aughts, with hip-hop looking to Evisu as its go-to source. Whether it was Jay-Z performing on stage, Lil Wayne checking the brand in his lyrics, or Busta Rhymes donning the pants in his music videos, the seagull logo continued to pop up. The wave of selvedge seemed to pass, but now heavy-duty denim looks to be making a comeback.
Selvedge, also known as self-edge, is a technique wherein both sides of the fabric are tightly woven, meaning the denim will not unravel. For years, rugged, selvedge jeans have been a favorite amongst denim enthusiasts, particularly within Japanese streetwear culture. With low-rise jeans currently doing the rounds amongst fashionistas, I predict it's only a matter of time before Evisu is the must-have denim label once more. It's time to fully immerse yourself in early 2000s culture, now where’s my Von Dutch cap?
Hear us out on this one, as the revived jorts trend is currently dividing the nation.
Trendsetters Palace recently joined forces with Calvin Klein for a denim-inspired capsule. You may well have seen Willem Dafoe in the trailers and posters. Part of that collection featured the divisive, shorter silhouette, and I can't lie, it made me want a pair. Unfortunately, as with most Palace drops, everything is now sold out. Thankfully, Calvin Klein offers an in-house version of the jorts that look eerily similar.
The shorts are cut from rigid cotton denim and feature a vintage blue wash and a straight leg fit. These denim shorts really are ideal for any looming heatwaves. Pair them with sandals, sneakers, loafers, or mules — it really doesn't matter because you're going to be the envy of everybody. Trust us, it's only a matter of time before the jort takes over every summer wardrobe.