The Luxury Jeans Brands Making The Highest Quality Denim
These high-end labels use the highest quality denim from the world's greatest mills to produce the best men's jeans you can buy today.
Denim is one of, if not the biggest, genre of fashion in the world. It’s also one of the most environmentally unfriendly due to the huge amounts of water required to produce a single pair of jeans. Hence it’s doubly important that when we’re splashing out on a pair of jeans, we understand what we’re buying.
Higher prices don’t always equate to better quality, which is why we’ve compiled this list of luxury labels producing what we think is the most stylish and ecologically sensitive luxury jeans on the planet.
What makes a pair of jeans luxury?
This is a contentious question since many people often equate price (and by proxy, exclusivity) with luxury. This is only a fraction of the equation, however. True aficionados of denim are not likely to give a hoot about the label stitched to the rear waistband, but will be far more inclined to want to know where the cotton came from and what kind of loom it was woven on.
Before the actual style or fit of the jeans are considered, it’s important to understand the denim quality and where it came from. Japanese selvedge denim is the generally regarded as the pinnacle: the name comes from the term ‘self-edge’ to describe a cloth that has been woven using an old-fashioned shuttle loom to create neatly finished edges (if you turn up the hem on the leg and see a seam that is neat and tightly constructed, then you have selvedge denim).
We won’t go into the ins and outs of warps and wefts, but we will say that while selvedge doesn’t necessarily equate to the quality of the fabric, the fact that these old looms are so expensive to operate tends to mean that the weavers in charge of them are only using the highest quality denim in order to maintain a good margin.
The best raw denim seems to come almost entirely from Japan, which has put something of a premium on price, but you can also find excellent value Turkish and US raw denim these days.
The best luxury denim jeans brands in 2022
So, now you know what’s driving the price, let’s dig into some of the brands we think are producing the most interesting luxury jeans styles today.
Amiri, the LA-based brand founded by Mike Amiri, is one of the most hyped labels of the moment and specialises in a particular brand of distressed and embellished denim.
Typically constructed from 12oz Italian stretch denim, the skinny silhouette is not to everyone’s taste, but if you’ve got a penchant for eye-wateringly expensive exclusivity with a rock ‘n’ roll-meets-streetwear aesthetic, then Amiri might be right up your street.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers
Headquartered in the East End of London, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers has quietly been making some of the highest quality jeans on the market since it was founded in 2016. Not only does it manufacture white-label denim for other brands, London’s only craft jeans maker also has its own excellent range, featuring everything from slim-fit selvedge jeans right through to wide-legged organic cotton styles.
It uses a selection of Japanese, Italian and Turkish denim, all of which are top quality and will only get better with wear over time.
Known for his use of fine fabrics, it should come as no surprise that Brunello Cucinelli also makes sumptuous luxury jeans in classic masculine silhouettes. Using mostly 11oz Japanese denim, the Italian brand’s five-pocket jeans are buttery soft and carefully crafted in Solomeo, a medieval hamlet in the province of Perugia, Italy, reinforcing Cucinelli’s commitment to exceptional standards of craft.
American designer Tom Ford is renowned for his timeless and flattering menswear silhouettes. And so it goes with his denim collection, which focuses on classic shapes and washes. Highlights of the collection include a number of Japanese selvedge styles that have been woven with a stretch fabric for a slimmer shape and extra comfort.
Made in the US, Ford’s denim is not your average workwear. Rather, it’s perfect for integrating with a smart casual wardrobe, pairing with Chelsea boots for a more sophisticated and elevated aesthetic.
Now under the charge of Hedi Slimane, he of skinny black jeans notoriety while at Saint Laurent, Celine Homme’s denim offering features just about every style under the sun, from super-distressed stone washes to skinny raw denim styles.
All of its jeans are made in Japan, so you can be assured of excellent build quality to go along with the fashion cachet that Celine has rightfully earned over the years.
If avant-garde fashion statement is your wardrobe’s modus operandi then welcome to Balenciaga’s denim collection, where you’ll find outrageously oversized styles in a variety of washes and varying distressed states.
Somewhat reassuringly given the high price tag, the jeans are constructed in Italy using Japanese denim. Timeless workwear and silhouettes this is not, but if you like your denim vibe with a heavy dose of Y2K and are willing to pay for it, then you needn’t look elsewhere.
Denim head Toshikiyo Hirata formed his own company, Kapital, in 1985 after many years of working in the industry. The name refers to the Japanese town of Kojima, widely regarded as the denim capital of Japan.
Today, Toshikiyo helms the brand alongside his son, creative director Kiro, and together they have created a stunning collection of jeans that blend traditional weaving processes with a contemporary aesthetic.
Kapital is mid-century Americana at its very best, with an array of funky patchwork styles that you will not find anywhere else.
OrSlow founder Ichiro Nakatsu prides himself on a slow, considered approach to crafting, using specialist looms and locally-sourced cotton yarns wherever possible.
His journey into denim began when his mother gifted him a pair of vintage overalls as a boy, and ever since he has dedicated his life to producing iconic pieces of timeless Americana-inspired denim.
The 105 straight-leg style is a brand favourite, cut from 13.5oz Japanese denim and built to last – the type of jeans you’ll never want to take off.
Edwin is one of Japan’s oldest denim manufacturers, selling vintage denim overalls since 1947, before moving into the jeans space in 1961. Founder K.K. Tsunemi’s mission has always been to produce the finest fit with the utmost quality and level of artisanal craft. His company was the first to introduce different denim washes to the world in the 70s and 80s, completely changing the denim game.
As such, Edwin developed a global standing – far more so than many other Japanese denim brands – and is to this day one of the most recognisable names. Its classic blue Nashville style is a must-have for any denim aficionado and offers great value, but honestly, any of its classic styles would be a worthy addition to a discerning denim wardrobe.
Evisu is without doubt, the most iconic and well-known brand of the Osaka Five, gaining global recognition thanks to superior quality denim embellished with its trademark painted rear pocket.
Founded by Hidehiko Yamane, Evisu was the forerunner of Japanese selvedge denim in the 90s (back then the gullwing motif was hand painted). The Evisu 2000 #1 and #2 models continue to be two of the most sought-after styles by denim heads around the world. With a cult following in streetwear circles, Evisu’s avant-garde embellished styles are perfect for those who want to clearly show their allegiance to denim royalty.
The Workers Club
Husband and wife team Adam and Charlotte Cameron started The Workers Club with a refined vision of iconic menswear silhouettes, not least men’s jeans. The pair have really dug into the details with their denim collection, going out of their way to discover the very best suppliers.
Much of their denim is 13.5oz Japanese selvedge woven by the famed Kuroki Mills on a vintage Toyota narrow shuttle loom. It’s the kind of small-batch artisanal cloth that jeans addicts go to bed dreaming about, featuring heavy-duty twill-pocket bags, a custom bronze plated button fly, copper riveting, bartack reinforcement throughout, and a chain-stitched waist, seat and hem.
ONI denim is some of the finest in Japan, period. The name comes from Japanese folklore, specifically the story of Peach Boy, Momotaro, who waded into battle on the far island of Oni.
What makes ONI denim so special is the fact that it only uses long-staple cotton yarns woven on looms masterfully tweaked by a single expert. While incredibly labour intensive, this laborious process makes for some of the most meticulously-made denim jeans on the planet.
Kojima-based Momotaro Jeans have developed something of a cult following among denim heads thanks to the brands unerring dedication to quality. They are constructed by artisans who have dedicated their lives to the art of making jeans, and carefully washed on the coast of Okayama.
Recognised by its double white stripe on the rear pocket, Momotaro produces every kind of fit imaginable, from classic straight jeans to tightly tapered, often using heavyweight cotton yarns from Zimbabwe of 15.7oz and above (up to 18oz). It even offers a silk selvedge style, strictly for ballers.
Founded in Osaka in 1998 by denim master Tohru Nogami, Samurai jeans has perfected the art of denim making over the last 25 years. The brand prides itself on creating the highest quality indigo denim that evolves over a lifetime, changing and fading with every wear and wash.
There are no bells and whistles, just exquisitely crafted denim. If you like a slim tapered style, then its 511 model is as close to perfection as it gets.
After the Second World War, Japanese culture fully embraced American culture, and in fashion that was epitomised by denim jeans. The creative region of Osaka was the epicentre of this movement and gave birth to the ‘Osaka Five’ – a quintet of jeans makers who catalysed a revolution.
Studio D’Artisan, founded in 1979 by Shigeharu Tagaki, was the first of those brands (the others being Denime, Evisu, Full Count, and Warehouse & Co). Although Tagaki is no longer at the company, it has continued to produce some of the best denim in the world, and its SD-101 style sets a benchmark for fit and quality.
Denim heads will want to check out its G3 collection, woven on an extremely rare 1924 Toyota G3 shuttle loom.
Another of the original Osaka Five, Full Count is a genuine denim pioneer, being one of the first to use long-fibre Zimbabwe cotton over other varieties. Founder Tsujita once stated that his raison d’etre was to create jeans that “feel so good that you don’t want to take them off until you get in bed”. While other makers were adhering to a workwear jean inspired by Americana, Full Count sought a more elevated design that put comfort foremost among its design principles.
Today, Full Count offers some stunning 13.7oz and 15.5oz jeans from handpicked Zimbabwean cotton, all made in Okayama.
If Studio D’Artisan is regarded as the pioneer of the Osaka Five, then Big John is the patriarch of entirely made-in-Japan jeans, which it released to much acclaim in the 70s. Until then, all denim was imported from the US, but Big John ordered the Kurabo Mill to create a denim fabric called ‘KD-8’ (it took them eight goes to get it right, hence the name).
Today, Big John does not rest on its heritage – it’s still innovating with amazing fades and hyper-stretch styles as well as its classic heavyweight Japanese selvedge styles.
Warehouse & Co
Warehouse was the last of the Osaka Five companies to be founded, back in 1995. The Shiotani twins, Kenichi and Kenji, decided that they wanted to faithfully reproduce vintage styles but with a more modern and contemporary standard.
They took the intrinsic details from Americana-inspired styles of old and gave them a twist (literally) with intertwined threads and intricate details such as deerskin leather patches, copper rivets, and their signature yellow selvedge thread.
Denime was the second of the Osaka Five, founded in 1988 by Yoshiyuki Hayashi, and sought to produce the best and most traditional iterations of classic Americana denim. Levi’s was the blueprint, but Denime has far exceeded the US brand in terms of sheer quality and craftsmanship.
Its brand of denim was widely lauded for its quick-to-fade selvedge, which allowed customers to create unique styles through general wear and washes. Today, Denime is still at the forefront of Japanese selvedge jeans, and there is no better brand creating denim for that personalised, lived-in look.