It is not without good reason that the A.P.C. Petit New Standard ascended to its current visibility. The brand’s owner, Jean Touitou was churning out minimalist, hard-wearing raw denim before many had heard the names of now-iconic Japanese brands like Studio D’Artisan and Evisu. A.P.C.’s legendary creation is summarized in our history of the brand, and perhaps its most enduring product is their legendary slim-straight cut, the Petit New Standard.
A.P.C. jeans just fade really well—and fast. Their denim starts out a rich deep indigo with a red cast, flat and starchy, with a slight sheen and you really have to beat ’em up to get the character to come through. But once you’ve put the work in, it’s there to stay. These jeans exist at a crossroads where mainstream (albeit high-end) fashion meets the denim-obsessed weirdos like us. They’re ubiquitous, accessible, and easy to understand. They’re sanforized and A.P.C. encourages their wearers to do the unthinkable—never wash them. The A.P.C. cult even has perpetuated myths of never washing your jeans, sticking them in the freezer to clean them, and sizing down up to 4 sizes in anticipation of the fabric stretching out to get that “custom” (read: extremely tight) fit.
They didn’t make the top spot for our Best Entry Level Jean (that distinction went to the Unbranded UB201), but their pervasiveness is hard to miss. Since sitting down in my local cafe to write this article, I’ve seen three pairs of these jeans in various states of distress. And even though the UB201 occupies a more inclusive pricepoint, A.P.C. is arguably the gateway jean for raw denim enthusiasts and more often the go-to recommendation for curious raw denim virgins. If you’ve found yourself among the camp of Touitou, looking for something beyond the New Standard, here are other slim-straight silhouette jeans you can look forward to slipping into.
3sixteen’s slim straight offering, their SL fit, really gives the Petit New Standard a run for its money. Although this silhouette may seem dauntingly wide for the skinny jean wearers among us, the SL is rather slim, with just enough room for mobility. Though offered in several fabrics, the 100x denim above, from Kuroki Mills is very much like that (at least at first glance) used by A.P.C. Like the Petit New Standard’s signature sanforized, slightly shiny denim, 3sixteen’s jeans may seem basic at first.
When raw, the jeans blend in. Their minimal branding and starchy, tightly-woven denim don’t do a whole lot to distinguish them at first. What will undoubtedly win over the Petit New Standard fans is the process. Not so yielding as A.P.C.’s denim, fades are slightly slower in coming with these 3sixteens, but to coax them out of the once-flat fabric is a joy that must be experienced. With no fabric gimmicks like tinted wefts and excessive slub, breaking in these jeans is all about the wearer. The light blues that emerge from the depths of the indigo and the hairy nuance the fabric gains with repeated washes turn the jean into something totally different.
Oh yeah, and these things sure can fade. The 3sixteen SL-100x with its minimal 14.5oz. denim has the capacity to blossom into a true work of denim-fading art. And, for the same price as a pair of Petit New Standard’s, you get some a handful of denimhead details like a full-grain vegetable tanned leather patch, selvedge fly, and chainstitched hem. They’re a great option for those leveling up from the Petit New Standard and raw denim purists who want to get back to basics.
Available for $215 at Self Edge.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing 1947 501
The measurements of the Levi’s Vintage Clothing’s 1947 501 might technically be a “stitch-for-stitch” reproduction of a vintage pair of Levi’s from the year 1947, but the pattern is definitely different. This is a true slim jean, certainly slimmed down from what Levi’s would have made in its postwar heyday. As long as you can deal with that issue, these are a great pair of slim-straight jeans.
These classic jeans are still (for the time being) made from that classic red-line Cone Mills selvedge denim, which is a selling point in and of itself. These are an especially good choice if you want to blend in with a crowd. The Levi’s arcs make them look like they’re just any old jeans and only you know just how good they are. The rigid shrink-to-fit models are made in the U.S.A. and hold up very well. Like all jeans made from Cone Mills denim, these 501s are slow to fade.
If you’re not a history buff like me and get over the outrage of these obviously altered classics, then you’ll really love them. They’re a great fit with a high rise, slim thigh, and enough room in the calves to wear just about any kind of boots you’d like. Besides, there’s no sight more beautiful than a Levi’s red tab with a big E.
Available for $285 at Unionmade.
Burgus Plus 770-22
For whatever reason, Burgus Plus doesn’t get a ton of press, but their 770-22 slim-straight jeans are truly wonderful. Although hard to see in the above image, this one-wash 15oz. denim has a ton of character. The rich, dark indigo is peppered with subtle slub and irregularities that keep the fabric interesting without getting gimmicky. Starchy at first, the denim is woven loosely and a fairly high front rise keeps the whole top block nice and roomy. Even though these have been washed once, there is still shrink left in the fabric, so be damn careful with hot machine washes. (Learn from my mistakes!) But the fact that these unsanforized jeans have hit water already makes them a whole lot more textural and interesting than anything from A.P.C.
There’s a lot to be said for these jeans, but a big factor is a rarity. Despite the fact that Burgus Plus consistently retails for less than $200, there doesn’t seem to be much fanfare for their jeans in the U.S. Especially if you’re coming from a brand as widespread as A.P.C., a semi-underground offering like Burgus might make a huge difference. And even if they fit large to start, have no fear, they’ll come in with the first wash!
Available for $158 at Tate and Yoko.
Stevenson Overall Company 737
Although most retailers refer to the 737 from Stevenson Overall Co. as a straight leg, this makes it in my list of slim-straights. Certainly not as tight as the New Standard, these jeans, though they have the highest rise and one of the widest thighs of all the SOC fits, they don’t have a billowy leg or an especially drape-y quality once soaked and shrunk.
Much of what we love about the more popular models from Stevenson like the 727 and 714 stay true in this slightly altered fit. All of the stitching, except for some over-locking on the inseam is single-needle. This is not only an exhaustive means of production, but it also gives the jeans the distinction of having one of the highest stitch counts around. All those perfectly-executed poly-core thread stitches mean the core of the jean will stay strong, even as the denim distresses and wears in.
Stevenson’s unsanforized 14oz. denim on display here is a classic for good reason. It takes on a gorgeous light blue color after its soak and takes creases eagerly, fading to an intriguing greenish hue. With slightly more garish details, like the belt loops and curved back pockets, single-needle stitching in place of bar tacks, the 737 definitely stands out more than a pair of Petit New Standards, but that might be good if you’re ready for a change.
Another model that’s hard to find stateside, you can order them online in either the raw or one-wash versions.
Available for $315 at Rivet & Hide.
Iron Heart IHS666-XHS
Well-known for making some of the most consistently heavyweight jeans on the market, Iron Heart is not for the faint of heart. Motorcycle culture backs up Iron Heart’s branding, which elicits their beefy goods. Their IHS666-XHS jeans weigh in at a whopping 25oz. which is twice as heavy as A.P.C.’s flagship denim. If your interest is piqued by the idea of denim as thick as literal cardboard, why not jump head first (or legs first, rather) into the deep end.
What you get from the IHS666-XHS is more than just impractically heavy jeans. The denim is among the darkest indigo shades around, and the natural weft gives the fabric a vintage tone that’s not as common. The resulting fades produce thick whiskers and honeycombs with a high contrast. And you’re not just paying more for more fabric. Details like lined back pockets, hidden rivets, a selvedge fly, and extra heavy leather patch come together to knock the Petit New Standard on its ass.
Available for $400 at Iron Heart.