October 26, 2014

Mission Blues: Taylor Stitch Introduces Raw Denim

San Francisco menswear go-to Taylor Stitch has the blues, but don’t worry. They’re quite pleased about it. New on the shelves of the Mission shop and in the online store this week is the debut collection of Taylor Stitch denim. And talk about local: each of the three men’s styles is designed, cut and sewn in San Francisco within 10 blocks of the label’s store.

Available in 13.5- and 14.5-ounce raw denim from the Georgia’s Swift Mill and Japan’s Kaihara and Nisshibo mills, each pair features a fit the Taylor Stitch boys (i.e. Mike Maher, Barrett Purdum and Mike Armenta) are calling “more democratic: tailored but not skinny, a bit more room in the thighs and a medium rise to accomodate ‘the boys.’”

Along with giving your junk a little more room to jingle and offering the mold-to-your-body benefits all raw denim offers, the styles stand out for having custom hardware, natural vegetable-tanned leather patches and minimal branding. The pricing is also quite fair. While many comparable men’s raw denim jeans hover around $200 a pop, these are $128.

More San Francisco menswear

Jean-ious: We Learn Tips for Buying, Wearing Denim Better

Levi's Curve ID

Denim, how we love thee. Yet like a perpetually new crush, we are also routinely confused by thee. Why has though wrought such travesties as muffin-tops, saggy knees and mortifying mom butt? To help us answer these questions, buy better denim, make it last longer and just generally revive our love affair with this most wonderful of fabrics, we turned to the capable stylists at San Francisco-based Beyond Black.

Beyond Black stylists Jennifer Held-Axcell (left) and Amanda Castro

Beyond Black’s owner-founder Jennifer Held-Axcell and associate stylist Amanda Castro regularly help Bay Area shoppers improve their style sense and wardrobe wearability through personal shopping, closet consultations and special event style services (including hair, makeup and bridal packages). So we were all ears when they weighed in on the dos and don’ts of denim.

Read on for their take on the best ways to avoid downfalls such as plumber butt and prematurely saggy jeans, learn the best brands for jeans under $100 and tried-and-true tips for buying the right denim and making it last through all your globe-trotting, bar-hopping, desk-jockeying and (in some of our cases) kid-chasing adventures.

Skinny jeans are part of our every day wardrobe, but flashing muffin tops and bum cracks are a serious style hazards that come with the territory. Are there any brands or styles you can recommend for those of us who like skinnies, but want to avoid those downfalls?

•    Amanda: As my friends and I always say, just say no to crack! And muffin tops belong on pastries, not on your body. The easiest way to avoid both fashion faux pas is to look for a pair of skinnies with a high rise and a good amount of stretch. (The usual 2 percemt stretch in all denim should work, but you can find brands with higher amounts, as much as 13 percent!) I like Levi’s Curve ID for the one-on-one fitting you get and Seven For All Mankind, particularly the Gwenivere because they’re clearly labeled and often come with a note about their fit.

•    Jennifer: The close cousin to skinny jeans are denim leggings, or “jeggings” if you will. Like Amanda said, you can find pairs with upwards of 13 percent lycra/elstane in them. That super-dose of stretch is also what separates the skinny jean from the jegging. Both styles fit close to the body, but jeggings tend to be super stretchy and fit more like leggings than jeans. For those of us with a little extra cushion through the hips and thighs, we need that stretch. Both Seven For All Mankind and Not Your Daughter Jeans make high-waisted jeggings.

A new pair of jeans can look great with heels for a night out, but after months of wear, the same pair can easily start to look schlumpy. Do you have any tips for keeping denim looking its best?

•    Jennifer: Air dry, air dry, air dry. Think of the stretch in your jeans like a rubber band that is meant to expand and contract back to its original shape and size. The more you subject that delicate stretch fiber to heat, the more brittle it becomes. People don’t know this, continue to dry their jeans in the dryer, then are surprised to find their favorite pair now give them baggy butt and saggy knees.

•    Amanda: I agree with Jennifer, the number one worst thing you can do to your jeans is wash them in warm water and dry them with heat. Drying any of your clothes is a bad idea in the first place. Heat is the perpetrator to clothing disasters: it breaks down the fibers in your clothes faster than everyday wear, it sets stains and shrinks fabrics. Heavy fabrics like sweatshirts and thick socks can withstand the heat, but your delicates and stretch jeans cannot. Always wash your jeans inside out and in cold water. The cold water prevents the color from bleeding, so does being inside out. Take them out quickly, reshape if you have to, and hang dry. Make sure they have plenty of access to free flowing air so the water doesn’t collect and hold in the fabric, causing a sour/mildew smell later on, especially in the crotch. Nobody wants that!

Thoughts on pocket adornments and decorations? Yay or nay?

•    Amanda: Depends on your taste. For comfort reasons, I shy away from bedazzled butt-pockets. Also, sparkly or heavily embroidered pockets tend to have a juvenile look, and, if you’re a lady of a particular age, they won’t come across in your favor. Plus, butt-pockets and what’s on them have a HUGE effect on the way your butt looks once in them. Too much adornment can make your rump look bigger than it is because it adds a visual weight to that area. On the flip side, no pockets are also not your friend, as they will only call attention to what you have, or don’t have, back there.

•    Jennifer: Amanda makes a good point. Even more important than what’s on the pockets is whether or not there are pockets at all and how they’re positioned. The dreaded “mom-butt” is a result of poor pocket placement and size.

Denim shopping can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many pairs and so many different fits. For those of us with limited time to shop on our hands, do you have any tips or suggestions for streamlining the denim shopping experience?

•    Amanda: First, know that finding a great pair of jeans takes time. Expect to try on a lot of jeans, that’s just the sad truth of it. However, once you find a brand that flatters you in a way you like, stick with that brand. In a rush, skip browsing and go straight to your brand and look for something that’ll satisfy your needs. Also, I don’t want to sound like I’m endorsing anyone, but I still hold that Levi’s Curve ID are the one brand where you have the highest percent chance of finding a perfect pair of jeans the first time around because they take your measurements right on the spot. Read my article here about my experience there and also here (this one has pictures too!).

•    Jennifer: I like to shop online for my jeans. Once I’ve established which brands I like, I can easily go online and search for them. Websites like Piperlime.com will offer fiber content and rise information. I know I need at least a 7-1/2” rise to feel comfortable, and that anything in my size with less than 2 percent stretch won’t fit over my thighs. There’s no sales tax, and they get shipped to me for free. And since I am purchasing a brand I already know I like, I can pretty accurately judge the size I should buy. And to top it all off, I get to try them on in the comfort of my own home and don’t have to circle or pay for parking.

Are “premium” denim jeans really better than their lower-cost counterparts?

•    Amanda: Many factors go into the retail price of a garment, including denim.Where it’s made, where the fabric came from, how many hours it took to assemble that one pair, etc. Higher-end jeans are produced from better fabric and stronger threads and many are made in the USA, making the price go up even more.That’s not to say you can’t find good, lower-end denim, but just don’t expect them to last nearly as long, even with the same TLC you give your expensive pairs.

•    Jennifer: To the detriment of your pocketbook, yes, they are. And not just because they slapped a designer label on the back. Above all, you get what you pay for: quality fabric and construction. If you plan to wear your jeans all the time and want them to last, then you had better pony up the cash for premium denim. The lower-cost counterparts are cheaper initially, but you end up spending just as much money replacing them more often as you would just buying a premium brand to begin with.

What would you recommend to someone seeking a great pair of versatile jeans for under $50?

•    Amanda: Celebrity Pink, Just USA, and Vigoss (typically carried at Kohl’s, JC Penny, Dillards, etc). Expect them to be in Junior sizes, run small/narrow and with a low rise. Otherwise you’re looking at a minimum of $75 for any other pair. Or you can always shop the sale racks!

•    Jennifer: The best selection of quality denim I’ve found under $100 is at Express. They’ve got a variety of washes and styles like curvy, low-rise, staright leg, etc. Gap/Banana Republic has a lot of options as well, but tend to be a bit more expensive and never seem to fit my large ass-ets just right. A woman with a more average proportions than mine would do well there. Just remember, you get what you pay for when it comes to denim. If there was ever one place not to skimp, it would be here.

When it comes to buying, selecting or wearing denim, are there any “rules to live by” that you find yourself mentioning to clients again and again?

•    Amanda: My rule is simple: find a dark wash, slim cut jean. Every closet needs at least one pair of those. They look the sharpest, thin you out because of the color, can be dressed up or down and will go with everything else in your wardrobe. Preferably you should buy two pairs, one to wear with heels, another to wear with flats. The difference is in the length of the hem. Also, watch what’s going on in the butt department. Make sure your pockets are not much larger than your hand and are centered as much as they can be on the roundest part of your backside. This will have the most flattering effect and we all want our butt to look good in jeans. That’s the whole point!

•    Jennifer: Number one rule is to actually take a look at your butt in your jeans. So many people neglect that area. I can’t stress enough the importance of good pockets.  The most common problem I see are women buying jeans that are too large for them with pockets that sit way too high in the back. Even someone with the perkiest of cheeks will fall victim to saggy butt if the jeans are too loose and the pockets aren’t right.

Photos: top, Levi’s Curve ID; bottom, courtesy Beyond Black.

San Francisco Men’s Denim: The Raw Deal On Premium Jeans

Tellason Denim

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.

Tellason Denim

Tellason Denim

  • 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.

A-B Fits

A-B Fits

A-B Fits

  • 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).

Gustin Quality Garments

  • 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.

Oneculture

  • 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.

Kent Denim

Kent Denim

  • 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.

The Blues Jean Bar

The Blues Jean Bar

  • 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.

Selfedge

Selfedge

Sugar Cane & Co. X Selfedge

Selfedge

  • 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.

Levi's 1947 501 Lonestars

  • 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.

Revolver

  • 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.

    Jack's on Chestnut

  • 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.

Azalea SF

G-Star at Villains Vault

  • 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.

Welcome Stranger

Photos of Azalea and Welcome Stranger courtesy of Kizza Chadiha. All other photos courtesy of each designer or store.

Denim Deal: Get Your $50 Gift Card to The Warehouse Sale feat. Rock & Republic

Desperate for denim? We’re giving away 30 (that’s right, count ‘em) $50 gift cards good for use at the Warehouse Sale featuring Rock & Republic, which kicks off in Union Square on Black Friday.

That’s going to get you pretty darn close to a free pair of jeans at the sale, known for offering premium denim brands, dresses, tops and casual gear for men and women at up to 80 percent off retail. This year’s holiday sale also includes a selection of outerwear, maternity apparel and children’s clothing.

Down for the deal? Here’s how to score your gift card from the event organizers:

  • RSVP for complimentary entrance into the Warehouse Sale featuring Rock & Republic November 26th – Dec. 5th near Union Square:
  • Once you have RSVP’d, send an email to admin@thewarehousesale.com with “SF INDIE FASHION” in the subject line to enter-to-win the opportunity for a $50 gift card good towards all purchases during the San Francisco “Rock & Republic” Official Warehouse Sale.
  • Winners will be chosen at random.
  • Winners will be notified by e-mail.
  • Gift cards will be redeemable at check out and will be held under winner’s first and last name.
  • ALL GIFT CARDS ARE NON-TRANSFERABLE.

This post sponsored by The Warehouse Sale

A Perfect Day in Kent Denim

Not long ago, I spent the day following around a pair of jeans so simple yet so well crafted that I wished I were a boy. You see, Kent Denim is a raw denim brand for men created by Noah  Landis. It’s the type of jean that needs no tacky brand stitched to it, because the quality speaks for its’ self. Most recently these jeans have been going places.  Inspired by the streets of San Francisco, Kent Denim has made his way to the Brooklyn Denim Company in New York and Lileo in Toronto, Canada among other places. If you’re the no fuss style seeking kind of guy, then dawning a pair of Kent Denim jeans is a must.  Casually cool with  no excuse for a label, try yourself a day in denim that’s  the perfect fit. Get yours at The Blue Jeans Bar on Union and Octavia or buy them here.

This article originally appeared on Modelina Michelle; Photos courtesy of Natalie Grae photography; Jeans by Kent Denim;  Make-up by Tiffany Fan; Creative Director, Michelle Ruiz.