Indi Denim: Part 1

indi-denim.jpgFor someone who loves clothing and, generally speaking, the hunt for and acquisition of rad things, I seriously huh-huh-hate trying on jeans.

Really, if I have to try on jeans, I feel like I can cross the gym off my list for the day. Just try carrying nine pairs of heavy denim jeans slung over your arm as you weave among racks, lifting, examining waist bands, leg shape and pocket style. And then comes the dressing room, where it’s off with your clothes, on with pair one, off with pair one, on with pair two, straining and jumping to get into pair two, then off with pair two and on to wrestling pair three out from under the pile you’ve created on the floor and then more straining and jumping and bending and twisting to get into pair four. And so on and so on. There’s nothing quite like seeing yourself, sweaty and red-faced in a crappy-fitting pair of jeans to make you want to go home, crawl into bed and die. Okay, going a little far. But seriously, I hate shopping for jeans.

Ironically, I wear them ev-uh-ry-day. Except for those days when I stay in sweats (or rotate pairs of sweats) from morning ’til night, because that sort of thing can happen all too easily when you’re a freelance writer and nobody cares what you look like when you’re at work except your dog, who is pretty easy-going about the dress code.

Reading this, you can probably see why I was intrigued by Indi Denim, an East Bay company that allows you to create custom jeans online for $135. In my quest to a) avoid denim shopping and b) offer myself up as an online retail guinea pig to other indie fashion consumers, I’m going to report on my experience with the company from beginning to end.

Why? Because it can be a bit daunting to drop $135 on jeans you’ve never seen, much less tried on. But the concept intrigues me. So I decided, what the hey, let’s live crazy dangerously and offer our $135 up for the sake of SF Indie Fashion readers. Oh yeah, and my lower half, which I do sincerely hope will be wearing a decent, if not rad, pair of jeans when this is all said and done.

I ran across the company for the first time at the most recent Thread Show to hit the city. I did get to see the denim washes and fabric choices in person, but I didn’t examine them with a microscope or ask for the company history while I was meandering past the booth. Frankly, all I saw was a bunch of jeans and promptly though, F no! I’m not in the mood to sweat it up right now.

Before I placed my order last week, I admit I went through the site’s customization process three times. There were several reasons for this. Mainly, I discovered that, despite my interest in fashion, I lack vision. I simply didn’t know what kind of jeans I wanted, need or would look good in. So I had to consider the options, then go back later and continue designing the pair I would eventually purchase.

Indi Denim offers only two basic cuts, one slightly more relaxed than the other, and two fabric types (slightly stretchy and non-stretchy), but four rises (super low, low, mid and high waist) a variety of washes ranging from your basic blue to a dark resin.

After selecting the cut, fabric and wash, the site offers you options for the leg. I chose boot cut, but narrow, flare, capri and wide leg options were also available. Next you can select the hem type, a coin pocket, presence of a front crease, distressing around the pockets and hem, sandblasting on the thighs, pocket shape, pocket flaps, pocket embellishments and pocket embellishment thread color. The last steps involve entering a series of measurements and answering some body shape questions using illustrations (the pseudo muffin top was my personal favorite).

During the process, I realized how difficult it is to visualize what, say, boot cut jeans with back flap pockets and no crease will look like on my body in comparison with, say, flare leg jeans with plain pockets and sandblasting on the thighs. Did I trust myself enough to create a pair that would actually look good on my body, as opposed to just inside my mind (where I live out my days with Giselle-like grace and poise)? One night, I actually woke up around 4 a.m. wondering about the thread color on my would-be back pockets. Should I go with the navy blue? Or perhaps the camel? These are the kinds of questions that plague me in my sleep.

After making all my selections and resolving to let myself off the hook (as both a consumer and a designer) if the jeans arrived looking like escapees from the Hot Kiss warehouse, I bought the suckers.

Then I sat there wondering an important question I should have, perhaps, pondered before entering into the process in the first place: how long does it take to create and ship a custom pair of jeans. Well, folks, it turns out that it’s 4 to 6 weeks. OH MY GOD.

As someone who does not do well with delayed gratification of any kind (hedonists like myself rarely have the time for this kind of folly), I felt an itty bitty bubbling of panic. Would I actually still be waiting for this potentially frightening pair of jeans in July? When was the last time I have waited so long for something? Not since the rebate for my last Bluetooth headset. Thoughts of hope swirled in my brain. Could it be that this was just a warning? A worst-case prediction of their arrival? Did this shipping time account for someone walking across the Bay Bridge on foot, perhaps stopping for a picnic on Treasure Island, to deliver my jeans?

Well, we shall see. While I can’t say I’ll do it on a regular basis, I would be willing to wait a month for any jeans that fit perfectly, look good, feel good and look of decent quality. I would be willing to wait longer if the jeans kicked serious ass.

Until they arrive, I sit here, pondering my design choices, my trust of on-screen color swatches and the likelihood, after so many years, of finding a viable alternative to the horrors of denim try-on hell.

Expect an update later this summer.

**Update: Please check out all posts in this series**

Indi Denim: Part 1

Indi Denim: Part 2

Indi Denim: Conclusion

Indi Denim: The Next Chapter

Indi Denim: The Final Chapter (Plus Free Jeans for You)

Announcing: Indi Denim Contest Winner

Indi by Appointment Launch Party

  • Catherine in SF

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve been thinking about this company for awhile. Trying on pants is my most HATED activity in the world. Even getting alterations makes me want to hurl (I’m petite and curvy).

    I’m down to one pair of jeans that doesn’t fit well, is old, and ripped, so I’ve been searching around and found Indi. Haven’t found many reviews on the company, so your post is great for me. I’ll be ordering mine very soon, since I’ve pretty much avoided wearing jeans completely.

  • Glad this is going to be a helpful post. I should warn you that I just got an email from indi yesterday telling me that there was a problem with my order, though it did not explain what that problem was, and that it wouldn’t ship until July 11 – exactly 6 weeks from the day I placed the order.

    I’m going to post about it soon, so stay tuned!

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  • Nick Kouros

    I just got mine. It did take about six weeks. I winged it on the measurements (no tape ruler) and I think I hit the fit pretty well. I got “Mission” low rise straight leg in an indigo ash. They fit well, I like the material (soft, kind of a mid-weight), but the flap button rear pockets were a huge mistake. The flaps look oversized and the flap edges stick out. They look like they belong on a dress. You can’t tell by looking at the picture. They need to improve the photo details. I think I can have a tailor remove the flaps. Other than that, I would try it again. A little pricey, but not having to go to a mall made it worth it for me. One strange thing I am going to ask them about: The care tab says to wash in cold water on delicate cycle. Derlicate for jeans?
    I also did the custom shirt thing (their other site) and I love the finished shirt. For the first time I have a shirt with a sleeve length that is perfect for me. The material (a fine twill) has a good heft to it without looking like a work shirt. The stitching is better than much more expensive shirts I have seen. The tail is plenty long to tuck in well. I got my favorite collar style. It looks great on me, and it’s nice to have a shirt that’s just mine (I share shirts with my partner who is bigger). $89 was more than I usually pay, but I got what I wanted and didn’t have to spend an hour going through the bargain racks!

    • Thanks for letting us know about your experience Nick!