GUSTIN made a pretty big splash a couple years back when they introduced their platform of crowdsourcing and selling selvedge denim at wholesale prices. Needless to say, their Kickstarter campaign was a huge success as they raised nearly $500,000.
Since then, a lot of brands have popped up on Kickstarter with the same idea of “quality selvedge for less” which has sparked a ton of debate on what these products really live up to their claims.
Admittedly, I was initially a little skeptical on the final results, so when we came across the opportunity to take a look at their recently released Loomstate (i.e. unsanforized) jean, I was excited to road test the jean and see how they wear. After about 3 weeks of wear, here are my thoughts:
GUSTIN‘s idea is simple: offer different types of fabrics they think would make great jeans, set a target number of how many people need to pledge before making it, and once that number is reached, they make the jean.
The fabric for this particular jean is a Japanese pink lined selvedge loom state denim that starts at 13.5 oz and increases in weight to about 14.5 oz. after the first soak. Loomstate refers to the fabric not going through any kind of treatment after it’s woven. The details about where the fabric comes from is unavailable but based on what we’ve seen, the best guess would be that it is from Kuroki or Nihon Menpu.
The denim is rather slubby and irregular with some areas being much rougher than other areas and being that it is loom state, the hairs on the denim have not been singed off which adds another element to the hand. After a couple weeks of wear, I was already beginning to see some of the edges and back pockets give way to some brighter blues. Thus, it’s safe to say that the fabric will result in some high contrast fading and wear patterns.
As for the overall color, the denim is a deeper shade of blue that can almost look grayish due to the hairs and weft yarns popping out. As expected, the denim was pretty stiff and rough to the touch in the beginning but after about 2 weeks of wear, it softened up considerably and was a lot more comfortable but it still retained that rough uneven quality that gives it a lot of character.
Hardware and Other Materials
As for the hardware, the metal buttons and rivets are all custom made and branded that are standard on all GUSTIN jeans. The leather patch on my particular sample was still the thin brown patch but the founders have stated that their production model would feature a heavy natural hand stamped leather patch.
Overall, everything used to make the jean are good quality and solid, but the one gripe I have is with the pocket bags and back pocket lining. Both are made from a lightweight cotton fabric may not last very long if you’re like me and tend to carry a fair amount in your pockets. This may be one of the first things that need repairing after a few months of wear.
GUSTIN offers two basic fits: a straight and a slim. For this particular pair, I received a size 31 in their slim straight cut which shrunk down to roughly a size 29. Their slim cut is described as a modern slim with a slight taper. From the different samples I tried, the slim cut has a roomier top block than most other slim cut jeans and tapers a fair amount from the knee.
One important thing to note, especially for those who have had previous pairs of GUSTIN jeans, is that while the pattern for this model is the same for their other jeans, the jean has a different fit after the initial soak due to the shrinking. When I compare this jean to one of their sanforized alternatives, I found that the Loomstate jean fits a bit slimmer overall than their regular slims jeans in the same size.
However after a week of wear, the waist, thighs and especially knees stretched a fair amount – 0.25″ in the waist, 0.5″ in the tight and knee – which made it closer in fit but with a shorter rise and slimmer thigh.
GUSTIN uses a well respected factory in the San Francisco/Bay Area where they are known for producing high quality garments. The Loomstate is a great example of their work. The belt loops are tucked into the waistband, the stitching is clean and line up well, and the felled seam on the inseam gives the entire jean a streamlined look.
Throughout the jean, there are small details like selvedge ID lines showing on the inside fly, red chain stitching, and lined back pockets. There weren’t any loose stitches, offset buttons or loose seams and after looking through the jean over the last few weeks, it seems that the jean is made as well as many others on the market.
At the price points, GUSTIN denim offers jeans that rival many higher priced jeans in the market. The construction and details are well done and should please those who buy their jeans. They smartly fill a niche in the denim market that gives the customer the option of buying the same fit of jeans in a pretty wide variety of fabrics.
However, offering this large number of options at this lower price has its disadvantages. While brands like 3sixteen and Tellason work with fabrics custom made for them and have a very detailed knowledge of how their products change and wear over time, GUSTIN‘s model puts them in a different position. They only have a limited knowledge of the fabrics that they carry simply because they don’t have the time to work with the fabric and road test it before releasing it as product. The result of this can be jeans that fit differently due to the varying characteristics of each fabric and because of the crowdsourcing model, there is little to no inventory to allow for exchanges for some jeans if you need a different size or cut.
Furthermore, the claims that their jeans are the same as jeans sold at $205+ is true if you’re simply looking at jeans as just fabric cut and sewn in America. However, there are the less tangible qualities behind the jean such as the R&D that goes into fabrics, patterns, acquiring/maintaining machines and a certain high level of expertise that other brands possess. As well, there is the benefit of more immediate availability that comes with carrying inventory (currently you’d have to wait at least several weeks before receiving your pair of GUSTIN jeans) that factor into a price point.
All in all, GUSTIN offers a quality pair of jeans at prices that won’t break the bank. While they may not satisfy the more discerning denim head who’s interests go beyond just having a good pair of selvedge jean, their line is a very suitable for the majority of people. The variety of fabrics is a huge plus especially if you like to switch it up, as long as you’re willing to accept the lead time.
To learn more about GUSTIN and their products, visit their website.