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The Thing: The revival of two-digit denim

(Image: Raina and Wilson)

Jeans have always been a cultural barometer: the free-flowing bell-bottoms of the ’60s, the ironed-on butt-huggers of the days of disco, the despondent denim that Kurt Cobain and his fellow unwashed icons turned into a grunge-era staple. A couple of years ago, the luxury denim-du-jour spoke volumes about our obsession with status symbols: if Jennifer Aniston has $450 Rick Owens jeans, why shouldn’t I? (The woman earned $1 million per episode—do we really need to answer that question?) Just when it seemed there was no limit to our appetite for excess, the recession hit. Yorkville shopaholics were checking price tags, sweet-16 spendthrifts stopped bringing mommy’s credit card to Aritzia, and dozens of cubby-size Queen Street boutiques plastered their windows with fire-sale signs. At the same time, classic brands (Converse, Timex and, yes, Levi’s) were making a comeback, and a woman who wears J. Crew was settling in at the White House. If you listened closely, you could almost hear the denim bubble burst. Nowadays, dropping hundreds of dollars for casual pants sounds, well, as ridiculous as it always did. The current must-have labels—like the appropriately named Swedish line Cheap Monday—are often priced in the lowly double digits. And if you need further proof that the era of democratic denim is upon us: Levi’s recently sued Dolce & Gabbana for ripping off its signature pocket-stitching design. The toast of Milan seeking inspiration in the everyman brand? It’s about time.

  • as

    GAP jeans are always under $100

  • christina

    I have always had a few pairs of cheap denim. If they fit well no one is thinking OH those are cheap. If you spend $400 and your muffin top runneth over poeple are NOT thinking look at those great expensive jeans. I think a mix hi/low is the best. The fabric of higher end jeans is what sells them for me.

  • JHS

    Some of us would NEVER dream of spending more than $100 on one pair of jeans and most of the city can’t afford it. Reality Check is in order… I think this magazine is becoming too elitist for me to continue my subscription.

  • CP48

    If those $400 jeans are made in China most likely the quality isn’t there.

  • downtowner

    My policy regarding jeans regardless of trends is that there is no way I’ll pay more than $50 a pair. Period. Thank you Winners and half off ‘already reduced merchandise’ sales.

  • Asha

    @ JHS- The article is not decrying the end of double-digit-denim, but rather celebrating it. While I agree that “The Goods” section is often frightfully extravagant and elitist, let’s offer criticism where criticism is due.

  • Mike

    Even the Gap gets up near 100 bones for jeans. I buy onsale at Banana Republic for a good mix of quality and price. I like dark wash, so jeans only last 10 months for me…

  • trish haddad

    Body Blue on the Danforth and Queen West is by far the best place to buy denim. They have the best selection.

  • ass

    @CP48: just cos something is made in China, doesn’t always mean all its parts are–oftentimes these companies will source material/fabric from elsewhere and have things assembled in China as labour is so cheap, and nowadays India and Vietnam, some countries in South America are all getting in on the action.

    @Asha, let’s let JHS have their own opinion, that’s what this little section is for and it’s not like what this person said is so outlandish, it’s actually true!

    @Mike: I wish BR jeans did it for me but their pants in general are a terrible cut for me! :(

  • Charlotte

    Club Monaco jeans, great quality for the price.

  • Michelle

    I preferred this article when it first ran in New York magazine months ago.

  • ChaCha

    Sometimes it really is worth it to put down a couple hundred dollars for jeans. I swear by my APCs.

  • V

    $30 jeans from AE. ‘Nuff said.

  • sarah

    I preferred all the unpretentious comments before that of Michelle’s on April 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm.

  • M

    There’s a new brand, Peter Says Denim and I’ve picked up a few pairs and they are by far the best jeans I’ve owned. SO comfortable and in the double digits!!! It would be nice to find them in Toronto somewhere.

  • Luda K

    Higher priced denim has more to do with the feel, style and fit than durability. But you need something to complement the nice jeans. Check out five o seven clothing on the Danforth.

  • jacqui

    I never pay more than 20 bucks (sale priced) for jeans, ever.

  • Author

    no need to pay more than forty bucks for jeans! you people heard of sales?

  • Dairy Farmer

    Most of say you would not pay over a hundred dollars for jeans, but I bet you paid overpaid by hundreds of thousands for your living accommadations. For what? So you can brag about it! “Yea I I paid top dollar for my condo in TO’s hot real estate market. Now! I wear $20 dollar jeans I had to hunt for on sale. Ooh! come to my house for a coffee? Sorry I don’t have any espresso beans. Why? I can’t afford them.” Go milk a cow with your $20 jeans. I’ll be at the corner cafe with my bespoke jeans on laughing and enjoy my premium miachado! Its about Toronto Life! not HOGTOWN.

  • molly

    You may have spent less than $100 dollars on your jeans but your ass probably looks horrible. You get what you pay for. I for one, enjoy the feel and look of pricier denim.. not to mention they last longer. I have multiple pairs of triple digit denim that I’ve had for years. Literally, years.

  • Ryan

    Levi’s have def made a comeback, but only because the stores have stocked them again. From the mid 90′s to the mid 00′s you could only find Levi’s in workwear stores, and they weren’t the styles that were cool trust me. But there is something to be said about buying for quality. I’ve never been one to spend more than $150 for jeans, and I always found at the higher price point they just lasted longer which in my opinion is worth it. I recently bought a pair of Levi’s in LA at Target for $20, and they lasted me a month before the crotch literally ripped out as I was getting in my car one day. I’ll pay an extra $75 to save me the hassle of that ever happening again. I’ve been wearing a pair of Seven’s I purchased at Nordstrom Rack for under $100 for the same length of time and they still look and feel brand new. You pay for what you get kids. Period.

  • Karen

    I swear by my Citizens even if they’re over $200 a pair. The quality is there–the denim is soft and comfy, the cut is flattering, and I just prefer how they look and feel. I bought a pair of Gap jeans last year b/c they were in black and I didn’t want to pay for designer black denim (long story), but never wore them once. That cheap fabric feels crunchy to me. At the end of the day, just get what you love and what looks good, designer or cheapie! I don’t like how Levis look new, but I lived in vintage Levis in university and I’d buy them again if I had time to hit the used clothing stores.

  • Tina

    Love the “two-digit” theme.
    As a student, “two-digit” is a good (feasible) policy.
    I shop at ….
    They have some awesome deals- for both the ‘cheaper makes’ and the not so cheap ones (still at lower price points than normal though).

    Tina xx