Style

Your Guide to the Best Jeans For Men in 2021

Denim, most likely an English corruption of the French “serge de Nimes” – a serge fabric from the town of Nimes in France, is a sturdy cotton warp-faced textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This twill weaving produces the unmistakable diagonal ribbing which has been used to make men’s jeans for over 200 years, valued especially for its property of durability even after many washings.

Popularized by Levi Strauss in the mid-1800’s, denim was used when you needed a very sturdy fabric to be worn during manual labor. Today, of course, denim has become so much more. No other item in our closets exemplifies the relaxed, informal American way of life the way our beloved denim jeans do. Built to last and so versatile, denim only gets better with time, and each pair reminds us of past experiences and milestones. We all hang on to our favorite pairs as long as we can and struggle to let them go.

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11 Choice Pairs on the Market Today

As we know, all good things come to an end, and when your girlfriend has had it with your ripped, worn-out jeans,  it’s time for a fresh pair. With so many different brands and styles, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint which are the best jeans for the modern-day man. There is so much to consider, starting with fit. From skinny to slim, straight, tapered or relaxed, everyone has their favorite cut. But, of course, your choices don’t stop there. You might prefer a heavier selvedge Japanese denim, you might like a soft-washed denim with some stretch, or you may even opt for a dark indigo or black denim. One thing is for sure, not all denim is created equal. No matter your taste and style, some jeans are just superior to others. To narrow down the thousands of choices out there, we’ve compiled a list of the best available jeans for men right now.

Levis 501 Jeans

Levi’s 501 Original Fit Men’s Jeans Medium Stone Wash

This is the original button-fly jean that has defined All-American style for decades. It’s easy to wear and goes with just about anything. It’s a 100% cotton weave. It’s also made with Water<Less® techniques, which reduce the use of water in the garment manufacturing process so you can feel better about your purchase. With all its history, amazing quality and perfected fits at affordable pricing, most would agree that Levi’s is still one of the best jeans brands for men. Check out the 511 for a slimmer tapered fit.

Nudies Jeans

Nudie’s Gritty Jackson Snake Eyes Selvage

Amongst all the denim heads we’ve spoken to, Nudie always comes up as a favorite. One of the first mainstream denim brands to adopt organic cotton production for all of its jeans, Nudie makes jeans that are built tough, and the cuts are unmistakably modern. This straight leg jean is made of outstanding dry selvage denim and weaved in the legendary denim-town of Kojima, in Okayama, Japan. Like all Nudie jeans, this pair is constructed of 100% organic cotton and features copper stitching as well as Nudie’s trademark wave pocket design, making it a favorite amongst denim connoisseurs.

Uniqlo Jeans

Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim Fit Jeans

Uniqlo’s approach to mass market offerings is different from most other brands out there. Uniqlo prefers a slow fashion process. Every one of their fabrics goes through a rigorous R&D development stage to ensure quality and durability, wash after wash. Their stretch selvedge, an innovative fabric that combines authentic selvedge denim with just enough stretch for added comfort and movement, is no exception. This denim is weaved by world-renowned Kaihara using Uniqlo’s original uneven yarn. This mid-rise straight leg is probably the most authentic selvedge jean you can find under $100. Don’t let the price fool you, these jeans might just outlive those other jeans you paid $300 for.

Scotch and Soda Jeans

Scotch and Soda Extra Loose Recycled Cotton Jeans – Wipe Out

Scotch and Soda has quietly found its way into our wardrobes by offering designs with great attention to detail, modern fits, and amazing fabric and color selection. Recently growing their denim offerings, Scotch and Soda weaves in and out of the workplace and busy social calendar with ease. This jean is exactly what it advertises – a great extra loose fit that’s slouchy all over. It’s got a great vintage-inspired wash and a button-fly opening. This jean is super comfortable, and the street style fit looks amazing with a fresh pair of sneakers.

Rag and Bone Jeans

Rag and Bone Fit 2 – Black Cashmere

The Rag and Bone Fit 2 is one of the truest slims on the market today. It has a great casual fit with just enough sophistication to dress up or down with ease. This cashmere blended fabric is brushed inside for an even softer hand, and at 11.5 ounces and 2% stretch, its perfect for summer.

APC Jeans

APC Petit New Standard Raw Indigo

If you’re looking for stiff, raw Japanese denim that wears in well over time, the Petit New Standard Raw Indigo is a great choice. It’s no wonder designers are lining up to collaborate with APC. The small Parisian atelier has risen to fame in the fashion and streetwear world with minimalist designs and French savoir faire. Their denim program is no different. This jean has a straight cut with an extra slim leg and a mid-rise waist for a great upscale fit. This is definitely one of our favorites that only gets better as it ages, and it’s our pick for best fitting men’s jeans.

Naked And Famous Super Guy Summer Sky Selvedge

Since its inception, Naked and Famous has brought amazing denim ideas to life. Never satisfied with the status quo, every one of their new products challenges denim norms and offers superlative ideas weaved into jeans you can wear, while at the same time remaining 100% authentic. We’ve never met anyone as passionate about denim, and particularly Japanese denim, as the brand’s founder, Brandon Svarc – a.k.a. the Willy Wonka of Denim. Listening to him describe new products is a must-see experience. Naked and Famous has brought us 32-oz denim, which stands on its own (literally!) as well as scratch-and-sniff denim and an array of other crazy concepts. Now they have brought us summer denim. This Summer Guy Selvedge might just be the best men’s summer jean of all time. Weighing in at a cool 10 oz, the light indigo shade is reminiscent of 1960’s uniform indigo shades and plays right into the season’s new color palette. The jean features a skinny fit with a medium rise and tapers from knee to hem. This bad boy is made in Canada with Japanese selvedge denim and nothing but authentic detailing.

JCrew 1040 Jeans

J.Crew 1040 Athletic Fit in One Year Wash

This pair is exactly what you would expect from J.Crew, who have been leading the way with their no-nonsense menswear for years. Classic and versatile, this jean offers a modern, slim fit tapered below the knee, creating a relaxed, comfortable cut that’s perfect for a casual summer day. One of the only zip closure styles to make this list, the 1040 Athletic Fit will give you all the feels.

Momotaro 14.7 OZ Zimbabwe Cotton Deep Blue Jeans

If you’re looking for stiff, raw Japanese denim that wears in well over time, the Petit New Standard Raw Indigo is a great choice. It’s no wonder designers are lining up to collaborate with APC. The small Parisian atelier has risen to fame in the fashion and streetwear world with minimalist designs and French savoir faire. Their denim program is no different. This jean has a straight cut with an extra slim leg and a mid-rise waist for a great upscale fit. This is definitely one of our favorites that only gets better as it ages, and it’s our pick for best fitting men’s jeans.

Duer Jeans

Duer Performance Denim Slim

Duer has built a reputation of comfort and performance. The brand was launched with the idea of bridging function with fashion, and all of their pieces have elements of functionality rarely found in other brands. We love the performance slim because, although it looks like most other slim denim silhouettes and has a rich indigo dye, nothing else is standard about this jean. Not only is the denim weaved with 2% spandex for a great stretch, but this fabric also contains 28% Coolmax. Coolmax® is a moisture-wicking property used throughout the active performance industry with proven results. If comfort and movement is a key factor in your next purchase, this one should be on top of your list. 

Outlier Jeans

Outlier Bomb Dungarees Blue Tint Grey

If biking to work is your thing, you’ve probably heard of Outlier by now. If you haven’t, you’re welcome. Outlier is a brand out of New York City specializing in products designed specifically for customers who pedal to work. They refer to the Bomb Dungaree as the 21st century jean, and once you try it on, you’ll see why you need it in your life. This jean is constructed with Bombtwill, a custom-developed super-tough fabric with very little weight. The Supplex yarns used to weave this fabric are extremely thin and soft, but when combined together they create a dense twill weave that allows the fabric to sit further off your skin for added airflow and breathability. Because 96% of the fabric is nylon, it is extremely durable, and the 4% elastane also gives it a gentler stretch. To top it all off, the fabric is coated with a DWR so it repels water and keeps you dry. Whether you’re biking to work or simply looking for a little more performance from your jeans, we recommend Outlier.

FAQs

Selvedge (or selvage) denim – a corruption of the term “self-edge” – refers to denim woven using one continuous thread, making the fabric stronger and more durable than others. This type of jean is woven on a traditional shuttle loom using a 32” roll, as opposed to the projectile looms of modern mass-market jean producers, which use 62” rolls. Selvedge can be identified by the outseam line down the inside of the pant, which can be shown off by cuffing.

Yes, jeans are acceptable for business casual dress, unless specifically prohibited by your workplace. Go with a well-tailored cut and a darker wash paired with a nice Oxford shirt or unstructured blazer. Avoid ripped (even intentionally distressed) or baggy jeans – or really anything that might be reminiscent of the “stoner crowd” from Clueless.

“Raw” (also known as “dry”) denim is referring to jeans made from denim fabric that remains unwashed and untreated during production. The majority of denim jeans undergo a washing and distressing process to give that worn, lived-in look, while raw denim allows the wearer to “break them in” himself. The result is a pair of jeans that is personal and unique – molded to the wearer’s body and faded organically.

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