It should come as no wonder that denim is in San Francisco’s blood – after all, the town gave birth to a little company called Levi’s back in 1853. But now more than ever, San Francisco is becoming a hub for small, independent denim labels that rival the freshest denim sources anywhere in the world.
In recent years, the popularity of locally-grown denim has become greater than ever, particularly for men’s dry and selvage varieties. In that spirit, we’ve sought out the latest and greatest denim from local sources to help you suss out a supreme pair of jeans that will make a serious style statement. You might say San Francisco has you (and your legs) well-covered.
Check out these local labels and stores, many of which have a great selection for guys:
- Tellason, one of the latest pet brands championed by San Francisco’s Durable Goods Concern — the same guys that brought us The Common in SoMa — these babies are designed with substance and durability over style in mind and crafted with artisan authenticity using fabric sourced from North Carolina. In short, these jeans are built to last.
- To get your hands on denim from a local label while surrounded by cult brands from around the globe, venture up to North Beach and duck into A-B Fits. In addition to its eponymous line, you’ll find a wide assortment of handpicked labels, including Dope & Drakkar. Look for Howard if you can catch him in the store — he knows his denim, and is just plain friendly.
- Gustin Quality Garments sums up its personal style in three words: understated, honest, and timeless. The raw selvage jeans promise a modern straight fit, made entirely in San Francisco. Mark your calendars for the spring, when San Francisco designer Josh Gustin’s first denim collection hits stores (including San Francisco’s A-B Fits).
- Oakland-based oneculture brings a lot of love to dry denim. With a mission to unite denim lovers around the world, the company might just be the place to find your next favorite pair.
- Academy of Art graduate Noah Landis created Kent Denim in 2008, putting his stamp on the premium denim market with forward-thinking, minimal style that would tell a story as these jeans endure the test of time. For more on Kent Denim, check out our previous coverage.
- Also check out the raw denim Sons of Britches pant from Betabrand, the new and improved branding from the people that brought us those whimsical Cordarounds. Only sold online, these jeans are a sensibly priced option for denim from a local source.
…and hit these stores to find most of the above, plus more:
- The Blues Jean Bar on Union Street is your denim store with soul. Instead of a drink, ask the bartender for your flavor of jean, and they’ll serve you a brand to fit. Find local brands Kent and oneculture here, along with other up and coming labels Crate, Naem and Castle.
- Self Edge Denim in Mission’s Valencia corridor may be your definitive source in San Francisco for raw selvage denim. Perhaps more raw denim than you might know what to do with, but it’s safe to say these people firmly comprehend denim. Among its 17 available lines are all handmade jeans by Roy and recycled denim by Sugar Cane. You’ll also find 10 special collaboration designs from Self Edge and its various labels, like the Flathead RingRing, pictured here.
- Owner Todd Barket delivers a definitive collection of vintage Levi’s at Unionmade Goods. One example: the 1947 501 Lonestar’s below. For a rare treat, check out the special Levi’s selvage deadstock jeans. Tellason is also carried here, among some of the most rugged spirited jeans that embrace American heritage.
- Revolver in the Lower Haight offers a special selection of hard-to-find newcomers to the denim scene. Get into a pair of Railcar jeans here – designer Steven Dang actually created his L.A.-based line after repairing railcars for a living, believe it or not. Other exclusives here include Denham the Jeanmaker–think well-tailored with a vintage attitude–and Them Atelier, a stylish affordable line that will please your wallet.
- Get an intimate experience at Jack’s on Chestnut, tucked on the Marina’s main drag, where you can nab a pair of Simon Miller’s, Hudson’s, or J Brand. Roll over downtown to Post Street for some discounts at their equally intimate sister location.
- For the latest from big designer players like Naked & Famous, Nudie, or Acne, head over to Azalea in Hayes Valley or visit Villains Vault in the Upper Haight. At Azalea, check out the Nudie nook in the back, and if you’re looking for G-Star, Villains is your spot.
- For the male perspective, less than a block up Gough, Azalea recently opened spin off store Welcome Stranger, which describes itself as “a new men’s store with an old soul.” Look for a sophisticated extension of men’s labels here like Spurr and Rag & Bone.
Photos of Azalea and Welcome Stranger courtesy of Kizza Chadiha. All other photos courtesy of each designer or store.