Daily Online Shopping Experiences
Mad Men has certainly brought back the glam of the 50′s and 60′s, but there’s another side to the 50′s that I love, and that is rockabilly. A man’s sex appeal was determined by how tough he was, how reckless, daring, with a complete disregard for conventional rules. The man I’m referring to, of course, is James Dean, the rebel I can never forget.
If James was alive today, where would he shop for jeans? What about Mrs. Dean for that matter? On my personal quest for the toughest jeans on the market, I ran into Self Edge, possibly the only selvedge denim (not to be confused with salvage) specialist in the States. Exclusive American retailers of quality jeans from Japan, their jeans have withstood falls from motorcycles, years of wear, and countless cycles of washing.
Kiya Babzani was able to realize his dream of making the toughest jeans available right in San Francisco, the very city where Levi Strauss realized the exact same dream almost 150 years ago. As a Bay Area resident, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit such a store, and see for myself just how tough these jeans really are.
I knew their selection was mostly for men, so I took a friend along to be able to experience the store to the fullest. We spent hours trying on something like 30 pairs of jeans combined, with Jino, the store manager, kindly answering my endless questions.
At first sight the store is small, smaller than I thought it would be given what I saw on their site. But the jeans kept coming out, as if Mary Poppins had built the back closet, and I realized that what was on display was merely a single pair of a given style, as opposed to numerous pairs of the exact same thing like most stores have.
It is not easy to differentiate between two different pairs of jeans by merely glancing at them on the hanger. But Jino with his unbelievable memory can narrow down the selection to your tastes and body type, even your lifestyle. I watched in awe as I saw a significant difference between one pair of jeans my friend tried on versus another one that was merely 3 oz. heavier. They may all look like the same indigo blue, but different types of dye and dyeing technique used make the jeans, once put on, look as distinct from each other as leather from silk.
Most fashion jeans today are made of 8 oz. denim, which can feel as thin as cotton jersey. Self Edge’s jeans can go up to an amazing 21 oz., the likes of which I have never seen or felt before. Trying on a pair made me feel I was fairly bulletproof, yet it was much softer than I expected it to be. They are not just any plain cotton either. I saw jeans made out of supima cotton, which I swear must have been woven by unicorns, they were so soft yet strong. Womens’ stretch jeans do not contain Spandex, but polyurethane, which allows the jeans to retain their shape for a far longer length of time.
And what about their womens’ jeans? Jeans shopping for me personally is a woeful task, something I do not do willingly. If it fits my thighs, it’s too big everywhere else! To this day I’ve abhorred the existence of skinny jeans, they have never flattered my short legs and big thighs. For the first time in my life, I tried on a pair of skinny jeans that not only made me look good, but one that I could see myself wearing on a daily basis because of their comfort.
That one pair threw everything I thought previously about casual jeans out the window. I’ve always opted for the low rise, boot-cut jeans for the most flattering fit and have rarely deviated. When Jino handed me a pair of very high rise, skinny jeans in a type of blue I don’t even like, my mind immediately scoffed, “well this isn’t going to end up well”.
I put it on and my first thought was “huh, this is comfortable”. The jeans encapsulated me smoothly, no one part tighter than another, with the same durable feeling that I expected from the jeans my friend tried on. Then I went to go to look in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised, even shocked. I somehow looked slim with graceful curves, with my short height not bothering me at all.
With each pair of jeans comes instructions on how to care for them, how to soak them if they are made for the shrink-to-fit type. Jino knows how each style of each brand ages differently, and advises you accordingly (“If you soak these jeans for 45 minutes in hot water they will shrink two inches in the waist and half an inch in the thighs and…”.
As exclusive retailers of these brands, they are not really heard or seen elsewhere, with many of the styles manufactured in small batches, ensuring that any pair I buy is one of a kind.
All of their jeans can be hemmed by them for free, and any repairs can be done for a $20 flat fee. Rips, holes, they can fix them all. (Watch this amazing video to see their repair process.)
Self Edge has three retail locations: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. Their entire stock can be ordered online. Sure their jeans are pricey, but I’m very content with the fact that one pair will last me 5, 10, maybe even more years rather than knowing that I will have to go through the dreaded jeans shopping experience every six months.