Jeans & Denim for Vegan Men
Following on from our last article Vegan Men’s Fashion Basics – Part 1 – Choosing a T-shirt, we can now move on to yet another wardrobe must-have. Your denim. Jeans, like the T-shirt, are an absolute staple item. You need them, period! Whatever style you choose to go for, and however ethical you want to be, (don’t worry, we will cover denim ethics shortly) you must have denim on stand by.
Considering how denim will serve you as a vegan man is of course important, but knowing about versatility and personality of denim is also important before you throw your money at any style or any brand. The great thing about denim is it lasts for AGES, and not only that, it ages with you and develops its own individuality tailored to you. And for vegan men, part of our fashion cycle is not to have to buy too much when it isn’t necessary. Denim is a good in that regard.
The History of the Jean
From bikers to cowboys to rebels and presidents, jeans have made their stamp on western fashion as a versatile classless garment that will likely never be beat. Pioneered by the Levi Strauss & Co in the mid eighteen hundreds, denim presented itself as a working-class garment that could handle the pressure of a labour-intensive work life. Following from the success of the Levi’s 501 line came the success of Lee, Wrangler and Lee Cooper, all covering areas of the west and delivering the robust versatility that the denim jean offered.
In terms of style, denim has seen only minor changes. However, the production process of denim jeans are further in the spotlight thanks to the likes of ethical standards and the access to information. We are now seeing the spotlight on factors such as excessive water usage, high CO2 production, labour exploitation and use of pesticides, all of which are notorious in both present and historical productions of denim. However, there are ethical clothing brands at work, and we’re going to check them out.
Types of Jeans
Denim comes in many types as you may already know. Not only that, but many brands have their own features that for some will be a selling point and for others a deal breaker, as denim is something that, when bought correctly, will be in your life for long time. Below is a selection of basic fits and styles you may want to consider when you buy your next pair of ethical jeans.
A straight cut jean is by far the most versatile cut you need in your collection. This is best for you if you’re just starting out on your fashion journey. Straight fits offer both structure and freedom of movement whilst providing you with a classic silhouette. Couple your choice with a relaxed mid-rise waistline for something that will nicely define you.
Looking for a brand idea? Check out the Weaver/Purpose from HNST. Made In Italy with both cotton and recycled clothing, and with a myriad of exceptional certifications. This quality and ethics are matched to perfection.
Photo is copyright of Circular Textiles bvba. All rights reserved. Image is not owned by Man of New.
Similar to your straight cut in style, the relaxed cut is, as it says, a laid back relaxed fit, which enables you to perform your daily errands or daily lounging without the stiffness of a straight cut. Perfect for an outfit on the far more casual side. Great also if your legs are on the muscled side. If a baggier silhouette is not to your taste, you may wish instead to opt for the straight or slim cut mentioned next.
Looking for a brand idea? Check out the WORKER / Organic Relaxed Straight Leg Jean in Light Wash from Monkee Genes. Made from 100% organic cotton and compliant with GOTS standards. Their jeans also produce 46% less CO2 than non organic brands, negate the use of harmful pesticides, use up to 80% less water in each pair of jeans and are part of the Fashion Revolution Movement.
Photo is copyright of Wilson Imports Ltd.. All rights reserved. Image is not owned by Man of New.
If a relaxed cut is far from the silhouette you’re after, then a slim leg may be your thing. Tapered, skinny or tailored as they are sometimes known as, the slim fit is great for, you guessed it, a slim leg. You can try and pull this off if your larger framed, though bare in mind the comfort or discomfort level. Slim fits are great for slim hips, thighs and calves and can come in skinnier variants depending on how skin-tight you want them.
Looking for a brand idea? Check out the Ambassdor Slim Fit from Outerknown. Available in many shades and made from organic cotton and a little spandex for stretch. Outerknown also produce their jeans in the world’s most cleanest and environmentally friendly facility in Vietnam. They also have a lifetime guarenttee and an up-scale system for jeans you no longer want to keep.
Photo is copyright of Outerknown. All rights reserved. Image is not owned by Man of New.
When to Wear Your Jeans
It’s pretty much common knowledge that, like the basics of wearing a T-shirt, you’re not going to wear your jeans to a job interview/wedding/funeral. Denim is for casual and on some occasions, smart casual, depending on what you’re wearing it with. To make things easy, use these basic tips:
Smart Casual/ Formal: A dark pair of jeans in a straight fit is acceptable. Make sure they have minimum detailing however, like fashion tears, acid washing and multiple whiskering, you know, those fold lines around the upper thigh areas of the jean.
Casual: A lighter shade jean in a more relaxed fit is perfectly acceptable here. And if it floats your boat you can even opt for the aesthetic extras such as the tears and whiskering, though don’t allow it to detract too much from your ensemble. You don’t want to make too much of a scene when you’re trying to be chilled and relaxed.
Jean Fit Basics
Like the basics of wearing a T-shirt, jeans should fit you properly, regardless of the jean fit, like relaxed, straight or slim. This means the waist measurement of the jean should be the size of your waist with just enough give that you can pull on and remove them without having to yank so hard. Don’t go so loose though that you get that bunching of the fabric should you wear a belt with them.
When it comes to length, know there are usually three types, short, regular and long. Most website and stores will offer a size guide though it’s recommended you try them on first. The leg should always reach the top of your ankle and have a slight break (a slight folding of fabric above the shoe) when you have your shoes on. If there’s too much break, you can fold the fabric up, but if you have to do this too much, it’s likely the leg is too long.
Whilst denim is not made from animals, per se, and whilst most denim houses like the more established commercial brands are also vegan in some way, there are a few points to consider should you want to ensure your choice remains as such. The biggest culprit is usually the ‘Jacron’, more commonly known as the leather patch on the back.
In order to keep it vegan, you should ensure the jacron is made from an alternative piece of fabric, such as reinforced paper, plastic or recycled non-animal based materials.
It’s also worth noting that the jeans you buy are from a denim house who source their fabrics and materials from sustainable and ethical sources. The big one to look out for is the GOTS Certification, which ensures the material, in this case cotton, has been grown to a sustainable, social and environmental standard and has a strict criteria. The standard does not set criteria for leather products, which makes things easier when buying jeans.
From Mud Jeans we have the Regular Dunn in Stone Blue, where as you can see from the photo, the Jacron is in fact printed directly onto the denim, negating the need for a secondary material.
If you don’t know Mud Jeans, you forever will now! With Mud Jeans the majority of their denim is manufactured using denim destined for landfill, and ensuring their production is as stringent on water usage and C02 production, becoming one of best carbon neutral denim manufacturers on the market.
Photo is copyright of MUD Jeans International B.V. . All rights reserved. Image is not owned by Man of New.
Try not to be too tempted by cheap denim. It’s often the result of the fast-fashion industry and created using cheaper cotton and cheap labour that’s often exploitative and unethical. Always check the certifications and credentials of the brand your buying from to ensure they’re playing fairly.
It’s also a good idea to assess the weight of your denim. Lighter denim is oftentimes cheaper and can tear easily, though a too-heavy denim can take a long and uncomfortable time to wear in before it stretches to your personal movements. When in doubt, go for a pair that fits well and feels tough yet accommodating.
Denim is a fantastic creation. It’s sublimely versatile and, when worn correctly, can compliment an outfit without much effort. Denim is also a very personal experience. Admittedly many of the brands mentioned above are available online, it’s always a good ideas to wear a pair before you commit. Denim can feel tough at first, but through love and wear, your jeans will eventually mould themselves to you. Denim is personal and when right, will serve you for years.
What are your thoughts? What denim brands do you love and are there any vegan friendly brands you enjoy wearing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.