Premium Denim : What's the difference?
Why is it that almost all fashion brands label their garments to be premium grade, luxury items, even when they’re clearly not? Nowadays we even have to put up with greenwashing, the current and latest trend to win over influence in the market.
As a result, the clothing industry as a whole, has probably the worst reputation for giving outrageous markups to cheaply made products by using over-hyped marketing campaigns and exaggerated brand popularity.
In some quarters, this has led to a healthy and much needed cynicism towards any garments that cost above the median average. For those who see past the glossy ads, stylised photography and social engineering, is the opinion that such garments are likely only as good as those at a fraction of the price.
In many regards this is true, but on the other hand each of us know that there are superior products out there. Ones which have been crafted with more love and attention than the status quo you might find in the local mall. The problem is figuring out who produces such items. Without doing some research into a brand and comparing various offerings, it’s really hard to tell. Especially when some brands have a reputation they don’t necessarily deserve, or in other cases a reputation they don’t have yet.
Jeans and the denim industry is a funny one. From our experience here at Comoditi we find many a denim lover who puts so much faith in one or two well known brands, but knows little of the world of denim and what other offerings exist. In Australia this is especially true due to the lack of access caused by expensive shipping costs, not to mention the hot weather. What many guys think is a superior product is in fact a dud, but with little else to compare to, they’re left in the dark to what could be.
What would you look out for if you were comparing a great pair of jeans to an average or inferior pair? Unless you’ve actually owned and worn a premium grade pair from a deserving label you probably wouldn’t know where to start. But once you have, believe me, you can never go back. If you are in the former category these are the things to look out for if you’re not familiar with a brand already.
Temporary Paper Labelling
Using lots of paper swing tags to hang off of the garment is by far the easiest and cheapest way to elevate a product offering above the actual quality. It’s not to say premium labels don’t do paper labelling - in fact they actually do this to another level. Our point here is don’t let this fool you. An overabundance of paper tags could be a way of covering up inferior quality.
Permanent Woven labelling
Opposite to paper labelling you’ll find the better quality jeans spend a bit more money and time crafting the permanent labels. Whereas cheap jeans use one or two printed labels in the waistband and that’s the lot, a premium label will have at least two or three high grade woven labels, not just in the waistband but also likely on the back and/or front pockets. Premium labels will also almost always have either a genuine leather or paper patch on the back exterior waistband. Cheaply made jeans will usually have nothing at all or a cheap faux-leather alternative. The design, production and attachment of quality labels can add a few dollars to production and it’s an easy one to bypass considering it doesn’t actually affect the quality of the jeans.
The hardest factor to spot on a pair of jeans is the build quality. On the face of things the stitching is almost always nice and neat along the most exposed seams like the inside and outside of the leg, or around the waistband. However, if you turn a pair of jeans inside out and study the more complicated nooks and crannies of the jeans - usually the crotch where the zipper ends, or the chain lock stitching around the pockets it’s easy to spot some shoddy workmanship and even mistakes that may have been made. Compared to a true premium pair and you can see they’re worlds apart.
There’s nothing more annoying than when the pockets blowout before any part of the actual denim. Cheaply made jeans quite often use thin lightweight material in their pocket lining as opposed to premium pockets which will feel more durable. This ones easy to spot for anyone who cares to look.
Much like build quality, this one’s a tricky one to the untrained eye. How can you tell the quality of a fabric just by look and touch. Many experts might say the denim should feel thick and heavy but that would be silly of us here at Comoditi to repeat as we specialise in lightweight denim, so clearly this is not a sentiment we agree with. With raw denim specifically we find the cheaper denim always feels significantly rougher and coarser to touch. This we assume has resulted from two factors. Firstly using low grade raw materials in the cotton yarn, and secondly being woven in such a manner that has caused a lot of friction on each strand of yarn as they crossed one another. We speculate using certain chemicals and other agents on the garment could also add to the result.
The true quality of any denim is only really noticeable after a prolonged period of time, we’d suggest about 6 or 7 months is probably enough. Once a pair of jeans gets into years of wear, as opposed to only months, and you still love them more than when they were new, this is when you truly know you have a quality pair.
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