Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
Here at Heddels, we love heavily textured denim, but all too often “slub” is considered the end-all-be-all of irregularity, when nep has just as much to offer. Neppy denim is an interesting beast — it definitely gives a highly textured look, but often that texture doesn’t show without significant wear. Neps in contrasting colors can help to show the irregularities right off the bat, but nothing can replace real, heavy wear.
Below you’ll find not only a list of neppy denims, but of denims that look neppy when brand new, not just when worn in. Some neps are tonal, some are white, and some are available in a range of rainbow colors, but all of them are beautiful in their own way.
1) Studio D’Artisan: D1625
Studio D’Artisan is basically the company when comes to neppy denim. Their D1625 jeans are probably the neppiest currently available, although if you are lucky you might be able to find a pair of their 21Oz. X-33’s Christmas Editions on the secondary market. The fabric used for this pair has an indigo warp and grey weft, and, like many neppy fabrics, contains a high percentage of synthetic fibers — they’re 70% cotton, 16% acrylic, and 14% polyester, although they’re incorrectly listed as 100% cotton. These jeans use the same cut as the SD-107, which has a low/medium rise and an aggressive taper. Each pair is finished with a black-dyed deerskin patch and copper rivets.
Available for $160 from Denimio.
2) Left Field: Chelsea in Deadstock Japanese Nep Denim
Left Field might not be a brand that comes to mind when you think about highly irregular denim, but their Nep Chelsea Jean might just change that. They’re made from a deadstock 10oz. Japanese denim, which has smallish white neps throughout. They have a ton of great details, like Left Field bandana pockets, raised belt loops, and Universal brand hardware.
Available for $210 from Left Field.
3) Shockoe: Rainbow Nep
The synthetic nep train continues, this time in the form of the 76% cotton, 12% acrylic, and 12% polyester Rainbow Nep jean from Shockoe. These jeans would be simple and understated, were it not for their yellow/orange contrast stitching and gradient of nep colors. The color of the stitching and neps play together beautifully, and really accentuates how awesome the fabric is. It leaves a very simple message: these jeans aren’t about their solid construction, quality hardware, or awesome details — they’re about finding a gorgeous fabric and featuring it in the best way possible.
Available for $275 from Context.
4) Stevenson Overall Co: Old Glory Nep Trousers
Next up is a brand that I wish I could say “needed no introduction,” but sadly they don’t get nearly the love and attention they deserve. Stevenson Overall Co. can’t be truthfully described as a repro brand as they don’t seek to replicate the designs of the past. What they do is create modern-inspired reproductions. I liken it to the tradition of oral storytelling, where the story gets repeated so many times that the details begin to change; the story may be the same, but it’s adapted to the storyteller’s social atmosphere in the same way that SOC’s designs have evolved to match the modern age.
Their Denim Nep Trousers are a particularly good exemplification of their style, taking a traditional trouser design and doing some minor modifications, such as adding curved “smiley” back pockets. It’s made with a 9.5oz. neppy Indigo/Silver-Grey denim, Universal zipper, and SOC branded brass tag.
Available for $315 from Corlection.
5) Freenote Cloth x Mildblend Supply Co: Nep Jean
Like many of the others on this list, this pair’s fabric has an interesting composition; however, unlike the other pairs on this list, this jean from Freenote Cloth doesn’t use synthetic materials, but instead a blend of cotton and wool. It is made with 14.5oz. Yoshiwa Mills indigo/grey denim with colorful neps throughout, as well as an indigo dyed leather patch and Japanese Salmon-Red herringbone pocket bags.
Plus One – Japan Blue: Jazz Nep (Brown)
Last, but certainly not least, is Japan Blue’s Brown Jazz Nep tapered jeans. Color neps are super popular right now, but some of us don’t want our indigo jeans to stand out quite that much. These brown jazz neps find the perfect middle-ground — they come in a beautiful earthy brown, and have blue, orange, and dull pink neps throughout. The weft is made in a contrasting charcoal tone, which makes wearing these cuffed a completely different experience.
Available for $125 from Okayama Denim.