Denim Review: J Brand

by Jaime on July 2, 2009

Everyone who knows me knows about my insane, indescribable love for J Brand. Okay, it’s an insane, indescribable love for virtually all things denim, but J Brand is one that I’m pretty infatuated with. I’ll try to keep this review as unbiased as possible, but some of it is going to sneak in.

A denim brand that has, in many ways, revolutionized the way that skinny jeans fit women, J Brand is a simple, no-frills denim that creates lines that are always being copied, but never truly duplicated.

A little bit about the brand itself:

J Brand was co-founded by denim manufacturer Jeff Rudes and former stylist Susie Crippen. The two set out to create classic and sophisticated jeans with the emphasis on fit — and one mandate: create timeless products. Paying careful attention to details and clean, dark finishes, together they have created a combination of sexiness, style and comfort in women’s jeans. “It’s all about a woman looking beautiful in her jeans, not the jeans drawing attention to her,” says Susie.

Jeff pioneered the French jeans boom in America in the late 70s with his first jeans brand, Paris 2000. In the 80s, he moved to California from New York and started Area Code, a trendy junior line of Lycra knits. Getting back into denim in the 90s, he partnered with industry icons Ron Herman and Adriano Goldschmied to create A. Gold E., a successful denim sportswear brand. He then stepped into the private label arena in 1999, helped Abercrombie & Fitch transform their denim collection and become their largest supplier of premium jeans. It was time for him to get back to his passion for branding, and J Brand became his vision.

Susie, a former stylist, dressed Hollywood’s actresses and was called upon to style countless editorial features by top fashion magazines such as Vanity Fair, InStyle, Esquire and GQ. She also created international advertising campaigns for Levi’s and Puma. Susie’s acclaim came primarily because of her classic taste and her expertise in denim. A passionate jeans enthusiast herself, Susie knew the leading jeans companies’ latest trends and had one-on-one feedback from countless women who wore them. After eight years in the business, Susie co-created J Brand, blending her knowledge and her vision of what women want. The ultimate result was the simplicity of J Brand: clean pockets, classic dark washes and fantastic fits.

J Brand jeans have options that only some denim companies dream about; the Burgundy Label is their basic, followed by the Blue Label (or curvier fit, with more room in the hips and thighs), the Green Label (their eco-friendly line… I’m looking at you, Jennifer!), the Black Label (which is described as being the same cuts as the basic Burgundy but with more luxe fabrics and detailing) and Mama J, the Maternity Label.

I will say, from an outsider perspective, there are two major downfalls for the company: a lack of a broad sizing option (they stop, like many designer lines, at size 32) and a high cost. The latter I’m able to overlook due to great offers from a lot of different sample sale sites, store sales, etc… but the former is tough. And while the curvy fit (aka the Blue Label) is an amazing addition to their line, even those don’t go beyond the 32″ waist, leaving a large quantity of women out in the dust… not fair, Suzie and Jeff!

But, those aside, these jeans have something special to them. And (with a big sigh of fear from C.) J Brand is officially selling their Men’s line, J Brand Denim Co., since Fall 2008. I’m going to buy him a pair in the Mechanic wash just so I don’t feel like crying every single time he “accidentally” wears his good jeans while working on stuff.

Okay, back to the actual jeans. There’s a reason I own so many pairs of these-the fit. Sizing-wise, most people need to size up for the skinnies (the wide-leg and Lovestory flare both run true to size/slightly large) unless they’re going for the denim legging look (which, honestly, I don’t mind with this lightweight denim), in which case they stick with their true size.

But whether you prefer a snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug fit or a looser, more carefree cut, there’s something so wonderfully special about the not-overly-adorned, well-brushed, high-quality pieces of art that J Brand jeans truly represent.

Because that’s what denim should be. Art.


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