We introduced the folks at Freenote Cloth a few months back, and we got a chance to catch up with them at various trade shows, including Agenda: Long Beach. The brand recently spent the month of August as brand-in-residence at the Liberty Fairs Concept Space in Downtown LA, and their autumn collection is debuting at a number of retailers across the country.
I was able to take a spin in a pair of their black selvedge denim for awhile. In addition to a great fit and stellar construction, the jeans offer some of the brand-standard classic and thoughtful details that brought many of us to the raw denim scene in the first place. These are now in my weekly rotation as my go-to black denim.
- Name: Freenote Cloth Black Selvedge Jeans
- Weight: 10oz.
- Fit: Slim-tapered
- Denim: Kuroki Mills 100% cotton black selvedge denim
- Other Details:
- Talon #5 vintage zipper
- Japanese herringbone pockets
- 1/8″ stitch detail
- Hand-selected black leather patch
- Made in the USA
- Available at: North Menswear for $240.00
I wear a waist size that varies from 28 to 29 depending on the brand and the level of stretch. The guys let me know that the denim does open up a bit, so I initially tried on the smaller size. But as I was cursed with size 12 feet, and due to the stiffness of the denim and the tapered fit, I wasn’t able to fit my boats through the legs, so I ended up with a size 29, which fit perfectly once on–though I still struggled to get my feet through. The legs have since loosened up, and I no longer need to do the dance to get them on.
The fit is most definitely snug all around, but not uncomfortable. It falls on the skinnier side, but since the fabric is only 10 ounces, it allows for freedom of movement. I’ve ridden my motorcycle and bike with zero issues, and the legs, though tapered, still fit over most of my boots. I tend to favor tighter fits, due to my lithe figure (read: chicken legs). These might be tough for the bigger-boned among us, but the jeans opened up by the end of day one with about a half-inch stretch in the waist.
The hand of the denim is smooth, without a ton of variation. My favorite part of the fabric is the jet-black color; both the warp and the weft are the same deep black, and it gives the fabric a nice uniform appearance. I’m all for having a slubby pair on hand, but it’s good to have a flatter option on hand. I have worn these around on the weekends with a t-shirt and sneakers, but I’ve also worn them to work with a button-up, a blazer, and some oxfords. The color and texture lends them a versatility that allows for a range of different looks.
While it’s only ten ounces, which makes it ideal for hotter weather (I wore them throughout the summer), the denim feels sturdy, like it will withstand some punishment. It’s no accident that Kuroki Mills enjoys the reputation it does. Since it’s black, and very dark at that, it’s not going to fade like indigo. Rather, after a month, some slight smoothness is appearing at the wallet area and the yoke.
I really enjoy the stark contrast of the white selvedge ID. It looks sharp against the super deep tone of the denim. The inseam is 33.5 inches, and at 5’10”, I wouldn’t have had crazy stacks, but I dig the way it looks cuffed.
The pocket-bags are made from a dark blue Japanese herringbone fabric which really pops against the black of the denim. Of course, these can’t be seen from the outside, but it’s a classic detail. So far, the fabric has held up well.
Many of us love to geek out on the details included in a pair of jeans. From the average consumer, I would get a blank stare if I started talking about leather-backed rivets and the like. These jeans cater to the geek in all of us.
When I first tried the jeans on, I was interested to note that they opted for a zipper over a button-fly. On closer inspection, I realized that it’s not just any zipper. It’s a Talon, which speaks to the brand’s attention to denim history and tradition. It’s a nice, sturdy, thick metal zipper, and it gives the jeans a vintage feel.
One of the first things I noticed when checking out the jeans was the leather-backed rivet on the back right pocket. It’s a small detail, and by no means over-the-top, and it give the jeans an interesting asymmetry.
Checking out the rivet–brushed nickel, in contrast to the copper rivets throughout–brought my attention to the shape of the back pockets. As you can see, they arc and the corners are stitched at a forty-five degree angle. The brand calls them “welder-inspired,” a nod to the utilitarian function of denim. It’s another well-considered detail that gives the jeans a unique character without making them garish or weird.
One construction detail it took me awhile to notice was the coin-pocket. This pair features a larger-than-average one; I found this very helpful, as I tend to keep my money-clip in there (packed with a stack of cash, of course). It’s never been a struggle to grab it, even while sitting.
The stitching is on-point, with super clean construction at 1/8″. No stray threads or weird issues with seams. The tonal stitching contributes to the stream-lined appearance.
At two-hundred and forty dollars, these land solidly in the mid-level price range, which is more than fair for all of the details that make up the jeans. The denim is classic Kuroki, the jeans are domestically produced about an hour away from where they’re deigned, and the attention to the little things gives the jeans a distinct character.
A comparative black denim in this price range would be something like Left Field NYC’s Black Maria Chelsea Jean. It has a similar super-dark black tone and slimmer fit. The key difference would be–not counting the mill, which is, of course, a big detail–the weight of the denim. The Freenote denim weighs in 4.5 ounces lighter, making it friendlier in warmer climes and seasons, whereas the Black Maria would be a cooler-weather denim.
Something as seemingly simple as a Talon zipper lets the discerning consumer know that the Freenote crew has studied up. The details are classy rather than overwhelming, and the look goes beyond the minimalist aesthetic currently flooding the market without presenting anything too out-there. These jeans are now my first-choice indigo alternatives.