Menswear: The best men's jeans at every price

Slip into a new take on the men's fashion staple this season, including collaborations from footballer Paul Galvin
Menswear: The best men's jeans at every price

Paul Galvin for Dunnes

‘I wear jeans most days,” said Paul Galvin, the football player and Dunnes Stores collaborator.

While sales of loungewear have witnessed a meteoric rise in the last year, the death of denim is not on the cards. Scores of men have taken their spend elsewhere, to the best sweatpants and hoodies, the loveliest of Zoom shirts. But others are still turning to jeans when they wake up in the morning.

Jamie Clarke, sportsman and brand director of Irish label Ilk, said he would never leave the house in loungewear. Jeans, by default, are his trusty everyday grab.

“Even with global lockdowns, and the ongoing discussion around loungewear, denim in the form of ripped, biker, and destroyed were leading the way from brands like Purple Brand, Ksubi, and Visvim,” said Joe Brunner, menswear junior buyer at luxury retailer Browns Fashion, whose fondness for jeans never diminished despite remote working.

When it comes to buying denim, one is typically drawn from silhouette to decoration. The market is awash with options — from ripped to rhinestoned; cotton to cropped, slim to straight, bootleg to baggy.

Levi’s has introduced the 551Z Authentic straight fit jean (€110) inspired by an original 1961 style. This iteration is much more à la mode. The looser fit affords for more breathability and style. Modern in approach, the release is a ploy to capture a younger generation — “skaters and the street style mavens”, per the press notes — but, equally, they are suitable for anyone, all ages, looking to update their roster.

GAP slim taper in light indigo - €64.95
GAP slim taper in light indigo - €64.95

On the high street, Gap’s slim taper in light indigo (€64.95) makes for a winning combination rolled up and styled with trainers, while ARKET’s aqua-wash cropped pair (€79) have a painterly edge to them.

ARKET aqua wash jeans €79 at arket.com
ARKET aqua wash jeans €79 at arket.com

Tommy Jeans loose elastic windpants €139
Tommy Jeans loose elastic windpants €139

An offshoot of the Tommy Hilfiger brand, Tommy Jeans hybridised denim and sweatpants with a loose-fit pant in light blue (€139), with logoed panels, and drawstring details. Any takers?

Paul Galvin for Dunnes Stores €24.60
Paul Galvin for Dunnes Stores €24.60

If one is to peruse the style aficionado and footballer’s line with Dunnes Stores, one can find a stretch skinny style in denim, grey, and charcoal (€24.60). While the skinny jean is proclaimed to be edging towards dormancy in some style guides, Galvin is a fan and he can’t be the only one. After all, the beauty of fashion is that not everyone has to be beholden to trends.

“I’m lucky in that I regularly get to develop denim jean styles of my own through Dunnes Stores, so I wear this almost exclusively,” said Galvin. “I know the fabric, fit, quality and wearability so well by now that it takes the headache out of having to buy denim jeans at all.”

Galvin considers himself a purist when it comes to shopping for jeans. “I would never buy denim jeans online. I prefer in-store.” While the mandated lockdown prevents that, he has conceived of a new way of shopping — within his own wardrobe. Instead of buying new jeans, he said he’s “re-wearing or upcycling everything I own since the first lockdown”.

Therein lies one of the most important aspects of buying denim. One shouldn’t just expect, but demand, good quality, and longevity from any purchase but especially denim which is more likely to be exposed to wear and tear unlike your trusty tuxedo or finest shoes.

“A good pair of jeans are meant to last a lifetime, once you’re a customer, you’re a customer for life,” said Brunner, noting that the same can’t be said when a customer is buying loungewear. He said this difference owes to the fact that men don’t wear denim in the same way due to increased options of other categories within the loungewear bracket such as sweatpants.

Brunner gravitates towards Visvim, a Japanese brand that riffs on Americana. In the same way that John Lobb makes shoes or Chanel makes handbags, Visvim elevates your traditional indigo denim with soft cotton fabrication and a hand-dyed process. The jeans cost over €1,000. Brunner acknowledges that price will mystify many. “Some people won’t understand why it’s priced the way it is” but he is emphatic about the label’s fabrication and attention-to-detail: “until you feel the product and see it in person, you never will. The quality is on another level.”

Brunner said, “I’ve seen Visvim on fiftysomethings, and twentysomethings, and whenever you do see their denim, you immediately say to yourself, ‘yeah, they get it, that’s it’.”

Nudie Jeans Lean Dean slim leg jeans € 177 at brownsfashion.com
Nudie Jeans Lean Dean slim leg jeans € 177 at brownsfashion.com

Luxury denim is worth exploring when you’re looking to invest in something that won’t find itself scornfully unworn in the back of your wardrobe. Nudie Jeans’ Lean Dean slim leg jeans (€177) are not susceptible to such an ending, made from organic stretch cotton making them softer than your traditional pair. Chafing won’t even cross your mind.

Dries Van Noten Pander leopard print jeans €578 at brownsfashion.com
Dries Van Noten Pander leopard print jeans €578 at brownsfashion.com

Fed up of traditional colourways and looking to explore other avenues? Runways are replete with answers to such predicament. Belgian designer Dries van Noten offers a welcome injection of 1970s chutzpah with all-over leopard print straight leg denim (€578) while Purple Brand’s paint-splattered slim (€502) pair echoes lockdown DIY — and you don’t even have to dirty your hands.

Purple Brand repair stitch paint splatter slim jeans €502 at brownsfashion.com
Purple Brand repair stitch paint splatter slim jeans €502 at brownsfashion.com

Clarke enthuses over Native Denim, a Dublin-based company that offers bespoke jeans (€190). He is eager to visit the workshop when they reopen. If you can’t wait, they sell measuring kits online. You can do it in the comfort of your own home.

Brunner has advice for those looking to invest, but cynical about the online shopping experience.

“When deciding to make the jump, it’s important to do research into the brand, their fabrics, and how all their styles fit in order to see where it lines up. If in doubt though, ask customer service and get your measuring tape out.”

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