Jeans are often considered a generic product, so ubiquitous in our wardrobes that they’re the single most widely-worn garment on the planet. As such, to invest in a pair from expensive jeans brands can, to some, still seem a little excessive.
But for those obsessed with jeans – and there are some real obsessives out there – this is to ignore the fact that denim is a speciality cloth which, while easy to mass-produce in basic form, is really an artisanal one when traditional and time-intensive techniques of weaving, cutting and indigo dyeing are applied.
You’d be hard pressed to find a clothing brand that doesn’t sell a pair of jeans. Everything from H&M to Dolce & Gabbana will offer takes on denim, with the price tag varying drastically. But so will the quality. High street brands often look to cut corners when it comes to production, which is how they keep prices so low. But designer jeans don’t necessarily equate to quality either, as you’ll more often than not be paying for the brand name.
When quality is your primary concern, these jeans brands are the best of the best. Whether your style is skinny, straight leg, boot cut or relaxed fit in a dark or light wash, these are the best denim brands to buy from.
THE BEST JEAN BRANDS FOR MEN
Founder Levi Strauss was, in effect, the inventor of the five-pocket western jeans style, back in 1873. Today, Levi’s endlessly imitated 501 model is arguably the benchmark style.
Still the best option for affordable jeans, the brand also has its Levi’s Vintage Clothing line, offering more upscale and period-specific cuts. Go to Levi’s for any style of jeans – skinny, tapered, relaxed, bootcut, or straight leg.
Wrangler is “the everyday performance denim brand,” according to their website, and we couldn’t agree more. They’ve been around since 1947 when they were founded in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their designs focus on functionality, especially for cowboys.
Today’s Wrangler jeans still have functionality at the forefront, but with modern touches. Wrangler jeans are built to last. Their best-selling style is the cowboy cut slim fit pair, a must-have in any aspiring cowboy’s closet.
The classic workwear brand, Carhartt was founded by Hamilton Carhartt in 1889, and has been owned and operated by the same family ever since.
Known for their utility pants, any blue collar worker should own a pair or two. In the fashion world, workwear is trending, so you can rock Carhartts off-the-clock, too. Think your dad’s jeans, if your dad was Ron Swanson.
Calvin Klein denim came on the scene in the 80’s and was groundbreaking for the new era of men’s designer jeans. Prior to that, jeans were considered ‘the worker’s pant,’ and spending serious dough on them sounded ludicrous.
Today, Calvin Klein denim represents the brand itself – they’re bold and seductive, usually coming in slimmer fits. Remember that caring for your jeans is as important as finding a good pair in the first place.
A brand that’s all about sustainability, you can feel as good about wearing a pair of Everlane denim as you look in them. Everlane is one of the best jean brands, and their ethical approach to making denim, along with radical transparency in pricing is a huge part of the allure.
Denim that’s designed to last, investing in a pair of jeans from Everlane is not a bad idea. They’ve got every style, from slim fit to athletic fit, light to medium wash.
Madewell’s history is interesting. The brand originated in 1937 as a men’s workwear brand. It was relaunched in 2004 as a womenswear brand, but back in 2018, men’s jeans were added back. A collective sigh of relief from men everywhere, as our jeans options expanded nicely.
Their selection is curated – small, but mighty. You’ll find a pair for every occasion. The Relaxed Tapered jeans are a best seller.
FRAME – a jeans brand that knows as much about marketing as they do about crafting high-quality denim. In just ten years (they launched in 2012), FRAME has positioned itself as one of the best jeans brand for men.
The star of the FRAME denim line are their skinny jeans. Worn by A-list musicians, models and actors, they have the celebrity stamp of approval. So, yes, they’re expensive, but if you ask FRAME aficionados, worth every dollar.
RAG & BONE
The New York-based label came onto the denim scene in 2002, and they’ve maintained their presence ever since. They’re known for their “edgy yet understated New York aesthetic,” claims their website.
Rag & Bone make some of the best jeans, in a variety of styles and washes. The Slim Fit Indigo Authentic Stretch Jeans are a crowd favorite.
AG ADRIANO GOLDSCHMIED
Nicknamed “The Godfather of Denim,” a list about the best brands for jeans simply wouldn’t be complete with Adriano Goldschmied. He pioneered a pre-washing method now favored by many jeans makers, giving jeans a worn-in look before they go on sale.
The Graduate jeans by AG are a tapered-leg pair preferred by men everywhere.
CITIZENS OF HUMANITY
An LA-based brand since 2003, Citizens of Humanity is a brand that focuses primarily on denim, which is usually a good thing to look for and is often found in the top denim brands. If it’s not, you may want to tread carefully. Master of none, and all that.
Citizens of Humanity offers lots of different denim styles, but the Sid Regular Straight fit are a favored design.
NAKED & FAMOUS
Canadian brand Naked & Famous is here to offer something different – a mega-heavyweight 32oz pair of jeans, or a denim blended with linen, or in a simultaneously left and right hand twill that gives a subtle chequerboard pattern.
Some ideas are pure novelty (a scratch ‘n’ sniff denim anyone?), but Naked & Famous pushes the possibilities for denim, and at a good price too. Try the Super Guy Skinny Fit denim to start.
Diesel was founded in the late 70’s with the goal of being known as an alternative jeans brand. If you’re not one to follow the mainstream, check out Diesel for their graphics, distressing, and for the most bold among us, go for the designs that are real statement-makers.
Their bootcut jeans are consistent bestsellers, and they come in various washes.
Jeans are, at heart, a classic garment – and most men wear styles that reflect that. But that’s not to say there isn’t scope for reinvention, and Dutch brand G-Star’s Elwood model – which borrowed the idea of an articulated knee section from biker trousers and applied it to jeans – is a case in point.
Joss Van Tilburg’s brand has gone on to be among the most progressive in the denim market, notably for its driving the use of organic and recycled denim. Try the rip knee skinny jeans if you’re more of punk-rock kind of dude.
POLO RALPH LAUREN
For classic silhouettes and an effortlessly cool look, there’s Polo Ralph Lauren. Their traditional denim have been mainstays for the more preppy among us. For more than 50 years, Ralph Lauren has been here for us, and our inner collegiate is thankful for it.
The Hampton Relaxed Straight jean are a favorite pair among fans, and coincidentally, that’s where we’ll be when we wear these.
London clothing factory owner Hans Ates was so dismayed by a pair of jeans he bought that he decided to create his own brand, keeping it small and local, while bringing back some long-forgotten denim construction details, the likes of the one-piece fly.
The company also places an emphasis on transparency – if you’re in north-east London, you’re welcome to call in unannounced and survey the construction process. Perhaps you’d like to do it in this slim tapered pair?
It’s British, and it’s co-founded by a woman (in what is quite a male world) – but these aren’t the only characteristics of the Brighton-based Dawson Denim.
Yes, the brand – launched by Kelly Dawson and Scott Ogden – uses Japanese selvedge fabrics for its hand-made jeans, but it’s also refined its own fits, such as its signature wide leg jeans. Its black denim jeans are especially notable. This wide leg pair are on trend and built to last.
The Stockholm-based fashion house delivers contemporary jeans that keep up with the trends way better than most of us can hope to. They have a way of catering to the moment – and right now, the moment calls for a pair of looser fitting jeans like these.
7 FOR ALL MANKIND
Show you’re in the know by calling these your ‘seven’s,’ as the brand is known by their following of obsessive fans. The style is casual, cool, contemporary Californian.
Best known for their slimmer fitting jeans among men, 7 for All Mankind is a lifestyle brand as much as a denim brand. Buy a pair and join the cult – er, club.
This popular jeans brand was launched in 2002, and anyone with some semblance of fashion awareness would remember the craze. Their signature 5-pocket jeans are the trademark of a pair of True Religions. On a list full of the best denim brands, this iconic company had to make the cut.
They’ve toned down their denim since launching, but the signature pockets remain. The Rocco Skinny jean is a popular style.
Sweden’s little known obsession with denim – it was producing home-grown brands as early as 1966 – is these days best encapsulated by Gothenburg-based Nudie, founded by one-time European design manager for Lee, Maria Erixson.
More fashion-forward than many denim brands, Nudie has also used exclusively organic cotton for its jeans since 2012, and pioneered the idea of offering a free repair service through its shops. When your Nudie jeans really are at the end of the road, Nudie will recycle them into rugs and car seat covers.
WHO MAKES THE BEST JEANS?
Depending on the style of jeans you’re looking for, check out brands like Levi’s, FRAME, Madewell, Everlane and Nudie when you’re looking for the best jeans company.
WHAT BRANDS ARE CONSIDERED DESIGNER JEANS?
Traditionally, the sign of a designer brand is that the brand is under the name of one head designer – for example, Versace was named after Gianni Versace, the designer. Brands like Adriano Goldschmied and Ralph Lauren are examples of this philosophy.
WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR JEANS?
Levi’s might have the market cornered here when it comes to the absolute best jeans brand in the world. Part of that is due to the age of the company – respect your elders – and part of it is due to the high quality and cult-like following. Still, all the jeans brands on this list are very popular.