Whether you know it or not, if you’re a bloke in this country your choice of outlets to buy new clothes are more than limited compared to our North American or European cousins. It’s no surprise the rise of foreign imports such as H&M, Uniqlo and Zara to name but a few, have gained so much traction in the last few years. But has this added any extra value to our clothing sensibilities?
The situation, in our opinion, is typified when it comes to buying a new pair of jeans.
Here we look at the denim options available in Australia and why the guys are getting a raw deal in the denim department. We've broken the market into three distinct categories - each with their perks and tricks.
Fast Fashion brands
Fast Fashion is great for those who seek quantity over quality. You can spend less than $100 and get a sweet looking pair of jeans from the twenty plus styles on display for you. But then, for how long do you love the low quality denim that you only need to touch to spot? How many washes will they last? How many times can you sit down before the fabric wears through?
Then there are all the ethical problems related to fast fashion - cheap labour, the negative environmental impact from wasteful production methods. Do a little research into how fast fashion works and then see how long you love a pair of jeans that will likely only last less than a year.
Pros: Usually a light material - good for the Australian climate and affordable with a wide variety of choice.
Cons: Poor quality - we all know the washing loop (they stretch too much, we have to wash them, they get too tight, they start stretching and here we go again); the ethical problems associated with them.
Mid Range brands
This is where most guys sit and are likely aiming around the $150 mark. There’s been a few new players in this segment over the last few years. There’s clearly a lot more being spent on brand and marketing here. The jeans themselves are clearly better presented and more thought has gone into the detailing such as rivets, stitching and labelling. But is the denim fabric, the underlying foundation of any pair of jeans any better?
A pertinent question when buying mid range brands is the quality and transparency - are we really getting a better product than in a fast fashion store or are we just paying for the marketing? Has the quality really improved or just our perception of it?
Pros: Aesthetically more pleasing than fast fashion brands
Cons: Lack of transparency and ambiguous price:quality ratio in some cases.
If you really care about your jeans' quality and fit, you actually need to do some research into what to buy and who from. Denim production is a dirty business, but the cream of the industry will weave a high quality denim fabric, craft a meticulous build with rigorous quality control. Such brands will likely specialise in raw selvedge (aka selvage), but those that do offer ready faded styles will do so using the most ethical, environmentally friendly washing and fading processes available.
Other than the price which is more than the majority of us are willing to pay for a pair of jeans, in Australia the offerings are next to nothing. The majority of which are from North America, Europe or Japan meaning their denim is a bit heavy for our warmer climate. Some may offer a 'summer weight' of around 12 or 13 oz, but even this in our opinion is too much for Australia.
Obviously the internet allows you access to whichever brand resonates with you, but on top of the hefty price tag you'll have to pay an international shipping fee. And if they don't fit and you need to return them, well.
Pros: Quality, timelessness and the assurance that you're going to be wearing these jeans a while.
Cons: Expensive and a lack of local offerings resulting in high shipping costs without the opportunity to try a pair on before purchasing.
A golden ratio
Here at Comoditi we asked ourselves what this would be. What would be the perfect pair of jeans and how much would we be prepared to pay for them? Why can't we have quality, summer-weight selvedge jeans (preferably with a bit of stretch) at less than the $200 price point?
Born from a moment of frustration looking for the perfect pair of jeans, we aim to offer a consistent quality fit with transparent pricing at the forefront of everything we do.