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The term “closet staple” is thrown around a lot, but if any article of clothing deserves the title, it’s denim. But because of its essential status and an overwhelming assortment of styles, fits, and wash choices, finding just the right pair can be tough.
Below are eight brands doing great things in denim right now, along with the style they’re best for.
Shop the brand for: high-rise denim.
Industry Standard is a small company that plays a big game: Since its launch in early 2014, the company set out to address the issue of high production costs on domestically made denim without compromising quality.
The Industry Standard solution: narrowing in on one of the best denim factories in Los Angeles, and making that factory an official partner of the company. This translates to lower priced denim, tighter quality control, and happier people in great jeans.
Industry Standard offers a tight edit of three styles: boyfriend, mid-rise, and high-rise, in a few wash variations with straight and skinny fits. The brand’s high and mid-rise jeans, made of soft cotton denim, have just enough stretch to be comfortable, but won’t bag out. The best part? These classic silhouettes start at just under $100.
Best Pick: The Margot Highrise, $115
Shop the brand for: a relaxed, boyfriend fit.
The 1970s denim line Made in Heaven was rebranded by the original designer’s goddaughter in 2005, and has found just as much success in the current denim market by staying true to the values it was founded on: creating iconic, unpretentious denim that reads and feels relaxed.
The M.i.h Linda boyfriend jean sits right at the waist, with a straight leg and just enough give behind and around the knee to make for the perfect everyday pair.
Best Pick: The Linda Jean, $250
Shop the brand for: a classic flare.
Frame is one of the denim brands to watch (and shop) this season, thanks in part to endorsements from Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Karlie Kloss, to name a few everyday people. The company was founded in 2012 by two London-based Swedes and indie magazine publishers with the concept of merging the “quality and heritage of denim manufacturing in Los Angeles, with the influence of a London style, cut and fit.”
Frame jeans are praised by its loyal customers and denim fanatics for holding their shape through relentless wear, so theoretically, the $200+ splurge will end up feeling like a steal a few years down the road.
Best Pick: Le Crop Flare, $225
Shop the brand for: cropped jeans.
Since its recent launch in 2014, AMO’s goal has been simple: create quality jeans for women that feel real and become more personal with every wear. "We want our jeans to become your go-to, must have pair, because as women we know its the best feeling to be able to slip on a pair of jeans and not only look great, but also feel great in them,” explains founders Kelly Urban and Misty Zollars.
The brand has found the long sought after balance of a true vintage feel while staying undeniably modern, particularly in its cuts that hit right above the ankle.
Best Pick: Tomboy Crop, $275
Shop the brand for: a skinny jean.
This online-only brand focuses on customer interaction and transparency in manufacturing. Each pair is made to order and trackable by the shopper from start to finish, with updates every few days through delivery.
On an even more personal note? The company sends along a “birth certificate” with each piece, stating when and where it was made, along with some fun facts, like who was actually involved in crafting the pair, easily making it one of the most thoughtful and thorough purchases you can make in the denim-sphere.
Best Pick: Midrise Skinny in Myles, $228
Shop the brand for: a boot cut.
When denim designer Scott Morrison launched 3x1 in 2011, he set out to reinvent the way people saw denim and the processes surrounding it. The logical first step? Putting a fully operating, public factory in its New York flagship store.
The unique setup allows customers to watch every step of the process through the glass walls, from the cutting and stitching all the way to the quality check. 3x1’s product range includes limited-edition and bespoke jeans, as well as a wholesale collection that’s available at Barneys, Bergdorf, and Intermix to name a few.
Best Pick: W2 Split Seam Bell, $255
Shop the brand for: a no-fuss straight leg.
Established in 2003, Citizens of Humanity has mastered the balance between ultimate comfort and updated, on-trend fits. The brand’s denim is soft, the silhouettes are ultra-flattering, and the fits are vouched for by a loyal customer base made up of celebs like Heidi Klum, Chrissy Teigen, and the Kardashian clan.
Best Pick: Agnes Slim Straight, $208
Shop the brand for: overalls.
Ok, Madewell is a household name. But we’re including it on this list for a good reason: the J. Crew sister brand offers quality denim at a not-so-scary price point. When the occasion calls for denim that’s a little more playful, head here for an elongating pair of overalls; Madewell’s come in a handful of styles that mirror the brand’s usual denim checklist of washes, cuts, and silhouettes.
Best Pick: Button-Front Skinny Overalls, $148