Jeans are a staple style piece in any guys wardrobe, and due to their popularity, there are a number of brands, manufacturers, and cuts to choose from. The vastness of the denim market isn’t always a good thing, however. To capitalize on the trend, unqualified proprietors are continuously emerging from the woodwork — if you’re an outsider, it can be difficult to process which brands you should trust, and those who are just vying for a quick dollar.
Luckily, there are a handful of names that have served to define the denim industry over the past century. Outfits like Levis and Carhartt, for example, have paved the way for more fledgling brands to show their worth within the legwear world. To remain competitive, these brands have introduced genre-defining jeans well under the $100 price point, gifting the masses a selection of high-profile washes, constructions, and cuts, without the hefty price tag that’s often associated with top-of-the-line examples. Below, we’ve aggregated some of our favorites and curated then in a streamlined, easy-to-understand guide so that you can focus on what’s important: the style itself.
ASOS DESIGN Stretch Taper
When it comes to quality and affordability, ASOS is the king of the menswear world. For years now, it’s been one of the most notable providers of seasonal styles, iconic favorites, and everything in between. Conventional jeans, on the other hand, have always been one of its strong suits — exemplified here by the brand’s Stretch Taper variant. Aside from their inherent stylishness, dependable structure, and attractive price point, each pair has been created in collaboration with the Better Cotton Initiative, which supplies manufacturers with ethically-sourced materials that are better for the environment.
H&M Straight Slim
Like ASOS, H&M specializes in providing men everywhere with essential style items at an undeniable price point. Whether you’re an average joe looking for a comfortable pair of jeans, or a fashionable devotee of menswear’s more cutting-edge styles, you’ll find what you’re looking for in H&M’s robust catalog. The brand’s Straight Slim jean, for example, promotes a subdued, five-pocket silhouette, tapered legs, and high-quality construction, courtesy of its shuttle-woven fabric. Every pair is created with a comfortable cotton and elastane mixture and features a unique red/white selvedge that’s both aesthetically pleasing, and functionally-focused, preventing unraveling over the garment’s life of wear.
Everlane Slim-Fit Jean
Everlane has a knack for creating some of the cleanest, and most comfortable, clothing items around. When it comes to iconic legwear, it’s hard to beat the brand’s Slim-Fit jean, thanks to its hearty cotton/elastane mixture, 11-ounce Japanese denim, and adaptive two-way stretch. Instead of adhering to the qualms of modern-day style, the brand has opted to remain neutral with this pant, producing a relaxed “slim” silhouette that sits just above the waist for a more direct appeal. If you’re looking for a garment that skips all of the complicated inclusions for something a bit more conventional, this Slim-Fit is for you.
Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim-Fit
Uniqlo’s Stretch Selvedge Slim-Fit jean is a must-have for men who are partial to that classic look. Deviating from the more supplemental stylings of today’s denim industry, the brand’s unique offering is committed to the reproduction of iconic legwear variants from past generations, taking on variable inseam lengths, a 9.5-inch rise, cotton/spandex trappings, and a finished outseam that looks exceptionally great whenever you decide to roll your cuffs. Plus, with a tried and true brand like Uniqlo at its back, you can rest assured that each and every pair has been produced with the utmost quality in mind.
Topman Ecru Straight
There’s not much to say about Topman’s Ecru Straight, other than the fact that it’s one of the more expressive styles on our list. If you’re a guy who likes to turn heads and stay at the center of the action, it’s likely that you and the Ecru will get along swimmingly, especially since the 100% cotton garment comes in an attractive all-white colorway. Should you accept the challenge, you’ll be one of the few who can pull off the style’s staple straight fit, slim hip, and mid-rise. But be warned, the Ecru is closer to traditional denim than you might think — it’s rigid, tough, and abrasive, but once you break through its shell, you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest sub-$100 jeans on the market today.
Carhartt WIP Coast Pant
Carhartt’s WIP branch is all about stylish implementation, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint with the Coast Pant. This slim jean is focused on an aggressive taper below the knee, but doesn’t adhere to the aforementioned “skinny” persona up top, giving it a comfortable feel that can be likened to a jogger. Each cotton, polyester, and Lycra pair boasts a great-looking ‘Mayfield’ Blue stretch denim, heavyweight textiles, and bartack stitching in all of its vital areas, providing adequate reinforcement for all of the day’s movements. To round things out, five utility-focused pockets have found their way into the mix, allowing you to stow, stash, and carry all of your necessities with ease.
BDG Bluebell Dad Jean
Urban Outfitters might be an overrated name when it comes to “affordable” clothing, but every so often, you can find a gem within their fashionable, city-style catalog. The brand’s BDG Bluebell Dad Jean, for instance, boasts one of the more contemporary stylings on our list, while still clocking in at well below the $100 price point. While the jean is advertised as a modern garment fit for the youthful buyer, it draws inspiration from its classical counterparts — hence the “dad” moniker. It’s crafted with 100% cotton denim and keeps things simple with a relaxed fit, slight taper, and five-pocket external detailing that doesn’t go out of its way to innovate.
Levi’s 511 Slim Fit
Levi’s 511 Slim Fit jean is a legend within the world of denim, and until you’ve worn a pair, it might be difficult to see why. Comfortability aside, these “average-looking” offerings have become a mainstay for men everywhere, thanks to their distinctive fit, their hybridization of the straight/skinny style, and their narrow taper, which provides just enough room to remain mobile, without feeling too constricted. And the best part? They hold true to their composure throughout the seat and thigh, boasting a similarly-slim look (and feel) that’s unique to 511.
The Unbranded Brand UB301 Straight-Leg
The Unbranded Brand is all about heritage recreation, and its UB301 Straight jean is one of the most rugged offerings around. It boasts a formidable, 100% cotton construction, tasteful dark-wash selvedge denim, and polished rivets, gifting wearers the iconic look of history’s time-tested jeans, without all of the slimmed-down attributes that you’ll find in modern offerings. To enhance their nostalgic silhouette, they even come with optional rolled cuffs, as well as a logo patch on the rear waistband.
MAVI Jake Light Distressed Organic
MAVI isn’t a name that many people are familiar with, but the brand’s Jake Light Distressed Organic jean is a darling of the denim world. Not only is it crafted using 70% organic cotton textiles, but it also boasts one of the most handsome washes on our list — a light-blue hue that oozes summertime nostalgia. Each pair takes on a comfortable regular rise, a slim hip, thigh, and leg opening, and a pre-worn persona that takes the guesswork out of personalized denim shopping. Did we mention that they’re moderately stretchy? Well, they certainly are.
Flint and Tinder Stretch Selvage
Flint and Tinder are one of our favorite heritage menswear brands, and as such, we felt that the inclusion of their Stretch Selvage jean was more than vital. Each USA-made model features a raw selvage construction, with fabrics sourced directly from the oldest mill in the country. Beyond that, they’ve been imbued with minimal stretch, a dark indigo hue, and the brand’s comfortable SGENE® tech, which minimizes the break-in period of each pair for those fussy denim aficionados out there. To round things out, each pair is sewn and finished in Los Angeles, California — the style capital of the west coast.
DSTLD Light-Wash Slim
DSTLD’s Light-Wash Slim jean is a stylish, subdued example that seamlessly blends the aesthetic of our favorite pairs of classic denim, with the new, cutting-edge properties of contemporary stretch variants. Each pair introduces a light taper just below the knee, giving it a tailored appearance, and boasts stretchy, light-wash denim that’s been devised for unparalleled performance in terms of softness and flexibility. They’ve even been finished with recovery and character in mind, thanks to their bespoke whiskering, fading, and well-worn exterior.
Bonobos Stretch Lightweight
Bonobos’ Stretch Lightweight jean is a testament to iconic summertime wear, and thanks to the brand’s Turkish-milled lightweight stretch denim, they’re a prime example that luxurious legwear doesn’t always have to surpass the $100 mark. Each pair introduces the outfit’s signature curved waistband, an OEKO-TEX/FSC certified paper patch, and ethically-sourced metal hardware, complementing its stretchy cotton composition. To round things out, the Stretch Lightweight is finished in an authentic indigo dye, giving it an appeal that’s in-line with some of the genre’s more iconic offerings.
J.Crew 484 Slim-Fit
J.Crew might be one of the most notable brands in the space when it comes to affordable menswear, but even they have some upper-echelon garments that you might not expect. The outfit’s 484 Slim-Fit jean, for example, is one of the most fashionable on our list, and that’s reflected in its price. Instead of the more subdued styling found in many of this list’s offerings, the 484 takes on a uniquely tailored look, while also incorporating fabrics from Japan’s first denim brand, Kurabo. If that isn’t enticing, then maybe you’ll find the example’s authentic look to be a bit more appealing, as it takes on a raw-denim persona, while still remaining objectively comfortable. Be warned, these jeans are slimmer than the average.
ARKET Regular Cropped
ARKET is a new inclusion that many might not be privy to, but we’d be lying if we said that they weren’t a notable player in today’s denim market. The brand’s Regular Cropped jean should give you a good idea as to why, especially since it introduces an impeccably-formed organic cotton silhouette, tasteful silver-tone metal hardware, and a five-pocket exterior that pays homage to the genre’s greats, without the hefty price tag. Of course, all of this wouldn’t mean much without the example’s creamy blue hue, cropped fit, and eye-catching mid-wash; all of which are plentiful, to say the least.
The Complete Guide To Denim Care
Whether you spend under fifty bucks or hundreds of dollars on your jeans, their longevity can largely be determined by whether you care for them properly or not. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive and complete guide to denim care that will help you keep your jeans going for years and years.