As hard as it is to believe, holiday season is right around the corner and for many of us, it’s time to start thinking about gift ideas. We’ve covered leather goods and smaller accessories in the past but more and more we’re seeing people wanting to buy some denim for the lucky people in their lives.
Given the amount of guides, forum posts, and questions about sizing, stretch/shrink, and measurements, it’s clear that buying raw denim for yourself can be a difficult process so buying for someone else can be equally if not more daunting. With that in mind, here is a basic guide to take as much as the guesswork out and help ensure you get the right gift.
Know Their Fit
It may seem obvious, but fit is king and there are a lot of different fits to choose from. On top of that, every brand has their own interpretation of fits which can add to the confusion. The easiest way to find the right fit is to find the brand and model of their favorite jean and research the cut and if possible, find the measurements of that jean.
Measurements can be invaluable to have especially since many online retailers and brands have measurements listed for their products with guides on how to measure as well as information on whether the jean is preshrunk or not (sanforized vs unsanforized). When we say measurements, we mean the actual measurements in inches/centimeters of the waist, rise, thigh, knee, leg opening, and inseam and not simply the tag size. Many brands will measure out a little larger in the waist that indicated on the tag, so don’t rely exclusively on that number.
If getting the measurements isn’t possible, at the very least you should narrow down what fit will probably be best. Here is a quick breakdown of the more popular ones:
Slim Tapered – Generally, this is slim through through the whole jean and the leg gradually gets slimmer down the leg.
Slim Straight – Compared to a slim tapered jean, this fit tends to have more room through the whole leg and has only a slight taper down the leg.
Skinny – This name is pretty self explanatory. Skinny jeans are cut very slim and narrow and generally has the smallest leg opening.
Straight – Jeans described as straight are cut fuller in the leg with no taper and generally have a higher rise.
Straight Tapered – This isn’t as common of a fit but has grown in popularity due to its combination of the higher rise and roomier thighs of a straight cut and a more aggressive taper to give the look of a slim jean.
Their Experience with Raw Denim
There are a lot of brands out there with a seemingly endless number of jeans. When deciding what kind of jean to get as a gift, it’ll be good to understand their experience with raw denim. In our opinion raw denim doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems but there are some things to consider to avoid any confusion.
For those less experienced with raw denim or maybe just getting into it, it’d probably be best to go with a simple midweight 5 pocket jean that has been sanforized or preshrunk. This takes a significant amount of the sizing guesswork out of the equation. Now as for the weight of the denim, while it can be very much a personal choice but for people who are coming from prewashed/predistressed jeans, it may be a more practical choice to choose a midweight denim (12-15oz generally) since it’ll be easier to wear and break in.
If the person is somewhat experienced with raw denim, you have quite the range of denim you can chose from. Whether the plan is to buy one that is similar weight and aesthetic to a current pair or to choose a jean with a different weight, fabric and details, it’ll be easy to find a pair that would make a great gift (if it’s daunting, a fellow denim head friend or an employee at a denim retailer are more than likely to give solid advice).
Where and How Often They Wear Denim
This pair of 3sixteen ST-100x jeans has a more uniform and smoother denim which is a little easier to dress up in a work environment.
The more textured and hairier denim on this pair of Strike Gold 5105 has more character but has a more uneven and casual aesthetic.
Back pocket arcs like on this pair of Flat Head 3012 are a nod to Levi's famous pocket arcs and can add to the character of the jeans.
Again, this might be an obvious point to bring up but there is a little more to it than it seems. Denim brands and mills have countless choices of denim and all the different fabrics can vary drastically in texture, color, and feel. Like denim weight, preferences for other denim characteristics is very subjective but here are some thoughts:
Raw denim can take some work and time to break in. For people who only wear denim a couple days a week, it might be a good idea to choose a jean that has an easier break-in period. Generally this may include jeans with a looser weave, lighter weight, or jeans that has been one washed.
It’d also be important to keep in mind what kind of style and/or environment they tend to wear their jeans. For instance, if they tend to dress up their denim, generally a more even and uniform denim with minimal branding is preferred while those who gravitate towards more workwear or vintage styles may appreciate a jean with a more textured denim and extra details.
Keep climate in mind as well. Those in colder areas tend to prefer denim fabrics in heavier weight or woven in a tighter weave. In contrast, those in warmer environments tend to prefer light weight denim and more important, looser weave denim allows for better breathability.
Choosing the Right Retailer
There are a lot of resources available to help aid your search for the perfect gift. Specialty retailers like Blue Owl, Self Edge, Blue in Green, and Rivet and Hide can be some of the best sources of information and can help give insight on what jeans would be best. All have physical locations as well as online stores if you’re not nearby. If it all seems too much and too daunting, there is always the option of a gift card that any denim head will be happy to receive.
You can also browse all the denim options out there by any of the above factors on the Rawr Denim Scout tool to help you narrow down your search.
Keep in mind return/exchange policies, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and good luck with the hunt for the perfect denim gift!