The Denim Dudes Guide to the World's Best Jeans
The Denim Dudes Guide to the World's Best Jeans
The author gives us the international lowdown on where to buy the perfect pair of jeans
Amy Leverton’s passion for denim has seen her journey across the globe to find the latest, oldest and most unique denim looks around, be they vintage wonders or the very newest threads from Japan. Her upcoming book, "Denim Dudes" showcases a number of dudes working that ultimate American fabric, the blue jean, in a myriad different ways. But where do they find those deep indigo items and perfectly worn jeans? We spoke with Leverton before her book launch to get the lowdown on the best denim stores in the world—a lot of which are run by the gentlemen in Leverton's book—and some insider’s tips for denim-heads everywhere.
"The first guy I think of when I think of London denim is Rudy, who has the store Son of a Stag. It has been going for over 10 years now. He’s a tough nut to crack; it took me about three years to win him over, which I think is my own fault because I’m a bit shy. But it was worth it, he's been such a great support for me. I think it’s the best brick and mortar denim store in England if you’re a dude shopping for denim. They have a lot of awesome Japanese brands such as Full Count, ONI and Spellbound, and they’re very particular about what they buy. I dragged the sales guy from Big John along once and now they are selling the brand, but that sales meeting was tough; you really have to have a great product to get Rudy's approval! This is the store to go to if you want to find premium, purist denim. They’d teach you why it's worth it, how to care for it, and what the big deal really is."
"The Vintage Showroom is run by Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett. Their store in Covent Garden is very small, but it’s just top-level vintage gorgeousness. They also have a showroom in West London. The Covent Garden store is like a little Aladdin’s Cave and they really know their stuff; they would be my vintage go-to guys if you're looking for something special and to learn. Gunn and Luckett’s book, Vintage Menswear: A Collection from The Vintage Showroom is by the same publisher as 'Denim Dudes,' and it's fab."
"Self Edge, I would say, is a bit of an equivalent to Son of a Stag. It’s run by Kiya, who started it in San Francisco, and there’s also stores in LA, NYC and Portland. When I went to San Francisco the first time, I landed, got my suitcase, and gave the taxi the address to Self Edge and went straight there. Kiya was so nice, we just hung out and he bought me cakes and we talked about denim. He’s really into Japanese brands and has all of the best labels—for example Strike Gold, Sugar Cane and Iron Heart—and really wanted to introduce those brands to America. If you’re into Japanese denim, it’s sometimes hard to find a brick and mortar store to buy it in. He does sell all the Made in America brands too, such as Roy and 3Sixteen by Andrew Chen of their NY store. Self Edge is so good at instilling an enthusiasm for denim in people and they’re so knowledgeable."
"Chuck’s Vintage in LA is run by Madeline, and if you go in there, make sure you’ve got a bit of money in your pocket and you're prepared to get naked! Chuck’s Vintage was founded by her husband Chuck Harmon, who’s a big deal in denim circles. Madeline has run the store forever and is the face of Chuck’s Vintage and she knows her stuff like no other; she’s like a whirlwind of denim knowledge. I've never known anyone who not only knows her product, but also understands body shapes so well; she'll simply look you up and down, ask you a few questions about your tastes, then start throwing jeans at you. What Madeline stocks is such good quality—if it’s rare, she’s got it. You’ll go out of there poorer than when you went in, but I’ve never regretted any purchase I’ve made from her."
"Kapital has four or five stores in Tokyo and is just next level. I’m a bit of a hippie at heart, and the Kapital crew cross the boundaries between being complete denim purists and also having this hippie boho attitude—a difficult combination to get right. They do it so brilliantly; they have really gorgeous jeans in unusual shades and casts, but then they’ll also do a beautiful patched and repaired shirt or a huge, cocoon-like jacket. Kapital basically do a total range and everything they create is really well-designed and thought out, and it’s all very boho and hippie. Their catalogues are my bibles."
For an amazing indigo experience, go to Daikanyama, Tokyo. Daikanyama (and nearby Nakameguro) is a very peaceful area and there are a lot of denim stores, but Okura is like a little indigo sanctuary. It’s like everything everyone imagines when they think of Japanese indigo is in that store. The place is tranquil and has beautiful dark wooden floorboards, and everything is dyed indigo everywhere you look. Okura is owned by Seilin & Co. who also own the Hollywood Ranch Market, Blue Blue Japan. Downstairs is Bombay Bazaar, a gorgeous café. The steps down to it are lined with denim that has worn over time and is all destroyed and beautiful. All the other places I’ve mentioned are places where you learn about jeans, but here, you experience indigo."
"Rikiya, who owns Gold Gate, is a Wrangler maniac and Gold Gate is basically a Wrangler store. He owns more vintage Wrangler than the brand itself does, so Wrangler Japan hangs out with him on a regular basis. Rikiya’s day job is as an interior designer, but his hobby is collecting mostly Nike and Wrangler. He’s even done vintage-inspired collaborations with Wrangler Japan, and is world famous in denim circles. He has all the weird niche collaboration stuff and tiny kids outfits; he just has everything and is so open to share his passion about the clothes. If you’re into Wrangler go visit him, the store is almost like a little Wrangler museum."
"Tenue de Nîmes is run by Menno and Rene and they now actually have two stores—both amazing, purist denim sanctuaries! I prefer the second one because it also stocks great womenswear. What’s nice is that these guys understand that the female denim consumer is slightly different, but they’re not patronizing her. In certain women’s denim stores they think all women want is fashion denim, but here they mix Acne, Jason Denham and LVC and it doesn’t feel too showy. They maintain the purist vibe but it looks feminine, and that’s a hard balance to get right. Of course their guys’ selection is huge and very nicely done too; they stock Double RL, Tellason—all the favorites. It’s just a really nicely curated store."