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Jeans and trousers

How much should I pay for: Jeans?

How much should I pay for: Jeans?

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: if you can buy only one pair of jeans, make them indigo. Versatile and classic, indigo jeans can scrub up to smart-casual level when required. But like other great basics, they range wildly in cost, and it can be hard to understand exactly why you'd shell out £200 when you can get a perfectly good pair for £30.

Mainly, you're paying for construction—with prices generally bracketed around the three main types of jeans:  

Pre-washed jeans: These are treated and washed in the factory so they'll feel soft and won't shrink too much when you wash them. Most jeans fall into this category: so if they aren't described as raw or selvedge, they're probably pre-washed. These are the easiest jeans to care for.

Raw jeans: These are darker and stiffer than pre-washed jeans. Guys can easily get obsessed with them because they're as much a project as they are a pair of trousers: they mould to your shape and develop fade marks that are unique to each wearer. Five minutes with a raw-jean enthusiast and you'll be ashamed for even looking at pre-washed denim. 

Selvedge jeans: Raw jeans that are made on decades-old looms rather than modern mass-production ones. Because these old looms are rare, almost all selvedge jeans are made in only two places: North Carolina or Japan. Selvedge jeans are usually distinguishable by the red thread stripe on the inside hem.

So which are best for you? Begin by asking yourself these questions

1. Do I prefer straight, regular or tapered jeans to skinny ones?
2. Do I want a pair that will be my favourite in 10 years?
3. Am I ready to spend £100+? 

If you answered no to two or three of the questions: Spend around £30

Photographed: Topman navy jeans (£30)

"Inexpensive denim is usually a cotton and elastane blend, which actually makes these jeans the most comfortable of the bunch: the elastane makes them slightly stretchy and easy to move around in.

"'Pre-washed' jeans, as they're called, are also easiest to care for—just throw them in the wash, then hang them dry. But they won't last you for years as other jeans will: the denim will lose its shape and thin out after a couple of dozen wears."

Look for: A fit you really like, as prewashed jeans won't mould to your body in the same way as raw or selvedge denim will. Fabrication including 1 or 2 percent elastane for comfort

Nice to have: Orangey-yellow stitching makes jeans look classic; a button fly won't wear out or break the way zip flies can.

If you answered yes to one or two of the questions: Spend around £70

Photographed: Minimum navy jeans (£70)

"For this price, you'll get raw denim, which has enough structure to hold its shape for years. These jeans will also mould to your body, meaning that while they won't be the most comfortable for the first few weeks, they'll fit you perfectly once you break them in."

Look for: A dark colour ensures you won't have to wash them for a while. A straight or tapered fit best complements the thick fabric. Orangey-yellow stitching makes jeans look classic; and a button fly won't wear out or break the way zip flies can.

Nice to have: A fabric weight around 11 to 14 ounces will mean the denim is thick and tightly woven, so it'll hold its shape.

If you answered yes to all three of the questions: Spend £100+

Photographed: Edwin navy jeans (£140)

"Selvedge jeans are the most expensive type you can buy, with the cost owing to their relative rarity, as they're made on old looms in only two places in the world. Selvedge jeans aren't always more durable than mass-produced raw jeans, but it's nice to wear something that's been made so carefully, in such a time-honoured way.

"If you're a guy who loves a turn-up, selvedge jeans will be your favourites. The thick denim makes a strong single fold—and the red inner stitching looks interesting when turned up."

Look for: The signature red stitching on the inside cuff makes the jeans less likely to fray. A fabric weight around 11 to 14 ounces means the denim is thick and tightly woven, so it'll hold its shape. A dark colour ensures you won't have to wash them for a while. A straight or tapered fit best complements the thick fabric. Orangey-yellow stitching makes jeans look classic; and a button fly won't wear out or break the way zip flies can.

Nice to have: Selvedge jeans can be more ecologically sound than others, so if you're keen you can easily find an organic or earth-friendly pair (try Nudie to start).