Are Designer Jeans Really Worth It?

This post is inspired by this video featured on ABC about the great debate of premium denim. In the video they talk to experts, poll people on the street and do durability tests to examine if there really is a difference between premium and regular denim. Their conclusion is yes, there’s some difference but it’s not worth the price tag of the premium jeans. However, I certainly don’t think that it is a very accurate assessment of what premium denim is all about!

Fit: Personally, I’ve never found a pair of jeans that fits me as well as designer denim does. I am 5’11”, so I frequently have trouble finding jeans that are long enough, and even some store’s “long” cuts were still too short for me. Premium pairs also have a wider variety of fits, like Cookie Johnson’s line, CJ by Cookie Johnson, which is meant to fit a curvier woman.

Quality: Although a larger price tag doesn’t always equal better quality, when it comes to premium jeans, frequently it can. In the video, they attempt to disprove that there is a difference between the wear-and-tear of premium and non-premium jeans. I’d say that typically this is inaccurate. The video shows only short term wear-and -tear, not over the the life of the jean. I’ve had some of my Citizens of Humanity and Seven for All Mankind jeans since I was in high school (over 8 years ago!) and they’re still in my daily jean rotation. I also was big into Gap jeans in high school but those pairs are long gone. The larger price on these jeans can mean you’re getting higher quality fabrics, like Japanese denim. These materials get softer and mold to your body as you continue to wear them, lending to the quality of the garment.

Price: This is the bottom line for the video and many consumers. With price tags in the mid $100s and higher, they are expensive. However, with exceptional quality and fit, buying a pair of premium jeans is an investment. For a great fitting pair of jeans that you’ll wear 2x a week for 4 years, at $200 a pop, it ends up being less than 50 cents a wear. Plus, with the increase of flash sale sites, such as Rue La La and Hautelook, it’s easy to get a pair of premium jeans for under $100, the online sales are always great as well.

Click the video picture above to watch the video.

So what do you think, are designer jeans worth it?

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  1. Depending on the price you pay and what denim is used in the dry denim, most count as premium. If you get dry denim that is selvedge from Japan etc and costs a lot of money, that counts as premium as the denim quality is premium 🙂

    Dior Homme, APC, DDG, Sling & Stones etc all have good dry denim and they are classed as designer jeans brands 🙂 I love raw/dry denim too though, it’s beautiful.

  2. I always use the “triangle” when talking about premium denim. You’ll either get fit, quality or wash unless you spend PRPS prices. 7FAM, R&R, Joe’s, PPD, TR … for what I paid their quality isn’t any different than my Levi’s I still have that I wore throughout college. The wash and fit on all those, however, is exceptional. My Nudie Regular Ralf Dry Selvage have exceptional quality and fit, but they’re unwashed. Washed RR run you around $400+. Honestly I don’t know why so many people get so caught up in the price of premium denim. People are willing to shell out more money to look and feel good. I’m sorry but I can spot a pair of designer jeans from across the parking lot not only because of back pocket embelleshments or other tell-tale signs but because they don’t look like a potato sack. Even worse are $30-40 female jeans that incorporate spandex and make the girl look like she’s going to explode out of them because the fit is just all wrong. It’s very much a “to each their own” type thing. Why people are always so distressed how others spend their money never makes sense to me.

  3. That’s a really good comment! I’m one of those people that spends all their money on clothes, shoes and accessories and I try not to let price be too much of a bother because I know the fit and the look of what I am buying will be fantastic, unless of course it costs just way too much. Other people choose to spend their money on gadgets, cars, sports and other hobbies so it’s just the same 🙂

    I can also spot premium denim from far away, that’s why I love being able to share that on DenimBlog. You can just always tell, mostly from the washes and fit alone, it doesn’t matter if the pockets are plain, much like J Brand for example; completely plain and nothing to give the brand away but you can tell they are premium 🙂

  4. This is the worst study case ever. All they tested was if people could tell the difference between premium denim or regular denim. Who cares?! I do not buy premium denim so people can recognize them. I buy them because they feel much better than cheap denim. I also like the cut and fit of it. In addition, I buy it because it is handmade and a lot of times spent on it. If you want to have a showdown between premium denim and cheap denim then you should put a pair of dry denim in. Some of them are freaking 20oz. hahaha. Tell me that they would not last longer than old navy?

  5. I agree, Derek, this video was a pretty surface-level case study. But I think because it’s an early morning news show, during the recession, it’s probably not likely to be a deep expose. They didn’t really go into a lot of detail about fabrics, fits and so forth. In my opinion, you really DO get what you pay for, especially with jeans.

  6. I can’t imagine you will find too many folks here who think j brand and old gap jeans are going to measure up to each other…everyone here is pretty much a self-proclaimed denim junkie! By the way, what do you think of gap’s new effort to go after premium denim with a cheaper price tag? Do you think they live up to their claim? I love gap for t shirts and a few basics here and there but the jeans…not so much.

  7. While I dont think that every designer jean ou there is worthy of their price tag. I do think that in general your getting a much higher quality product in premium denim. That being said their are some good quality cheaper denim out their. One example I look at is in the raw denim market. You have the Levis 501 stf wich is a great raw jean and been around for forever. But its no competition to say nudie or flathead etc. In the end the worldwide rule still applies “You get what you pay for”

  8. The study was biased to begin with. Ultimately, whatever fits your lifestyle and budget is what you should be buying. As noted above, my True Religions and J Brand has lasted me well beyond the price tag. I will never go back to cheaper denim simply because they do not fit as well and do not look as well.

  9. Jen and Bebelush: I do think that this is a biased audience, as it’s a blog about denim! I’ve tried GAP’s new denim and it just doesn’t fit me properly. I think my ultimate point was for me, personally, it is all of these factors that keep me buying premium denim. This is not to say that if I found a great pair of jeans from the Gap or Wal-Mart that fit me like a glove, I wouldn’t buy them. Sure, I may not expect them to last as long as some of my other brands but I’d still love them just as much.