J. Crew’s relaunched men’s denim program, which hit retail Tuesday, is heavy on the origin story. Marketing materials for the collection hammer home where they were designed (New York City), where the denim comes from (Japan), and where the washes were developed (in Kentucky). (Not to mention that the jeans are actually made overseas as well.)
If your first response to this news is to try and recall where the company’s men’s denim used to hail from -- or anything else about its blue jeans for that matter -- that’s pretty much the point.
The new washes, we’re told (via the label’s denim blog) were “hand developed ... with the denim experts at Wonderland Concepts in Henderson, Kentucky.” And the denim was sourced from “Kaihara mill, a textile house in Fukuyama City, Japan, that’s been producing indigo-dyed fabrics for over 100 years.”
To be fair, there is more to the new collection than the fact that the development process qualifies for frequent flier miles, but that seemed to be the big takeaway from a preview event Monday night at the Grove’s J. Crew Men’s store, where the signature symbolic cocktail was a Manhattan made with Maker’s Mark, a bourbon from Kentucky. (For anyone straining for a Japanese connection, it’s worth noting that Maker’s Mark is owned by Japan’s Suntory Holdings Ltd.)
At the event, we had a chance to chat briefly with the vice president of denim design for J. Crew, Mary Pierson, who emphasized the biggest change was in the raw materials department. “All of the indigo denim comes from Japan,” Pierson said. “That’s really the biggest change.”
In addition, Pierson said the collection’s fits were tweaked slightly. “We made the fits a little more relevant,” she said, “but we didn’t change them so much that guys wouldn’t recognize them.”
Are any of the new fits “better” than any of the old fits? Heck if we know the answer to that one (the various fits are described in detail at J. Crew’s website). Ultimately, that question can only be answered by one person (that’d be you) in one place (that’d be in front of a mirror). But if the fits do suit your frame -- and the $125 to $198 price range suits your wallet -- then maybe, just maybe, that cool-to-recount backstory will help lift J. Crew’s rebooted men’s denim program above a sea of blue jeans sameness.
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