11 January 2010


Last year, I bought some new dungarees. I wanted them to last a long time...and they might have, were it not for an accidental run in the dryer, taking four inches off the waist, and bringing the hems up to mid ankle...oops.

So I needed some new jeans. I don't wear jeans as often as I used to, when they were the absolute only trews youd find me wearing. But I do wear them often enough, especially in Winter, that I missed them when they were gone.

I like my jeans dark, rigid, and classically cut. I have no time for fashionable brands or trendy washes. As far as I'm concerned there are now and have only ever been three brands: Levi's, Lee and Wrangler. My last batch were Levi's, Lee jumped the shark along time ago, and my recent batch are Wrangler's.

You know, the old fashioned kind with the big "W" on the back pockets. Note the rivets on those pockets, a nice little detail that Levi's lacks.
True I prefer a button fly, but I can live with a zipper. After just a small bit of looking, I found these on sale for $20.99 a pair at Shepler's, a Kansas based reatiler of western wear, real cowboy stuff. In my last post about jeans, I said they should be porchased in a store that also sells power tools. Alternatively, you can get them from a plce that sells official Pro Rodeo gear.

In fact, these are Pro Rodeo gear. Can you believe this tag on the pocket? The cowboy painting leaves me speechless, and the multiple 1970's era fonts are pretty cool too. Makes me feel like I got some real jeans, somehow.

Being an East Coast-er, I prefer my jeans with tweed and sweaters.
Worn with a vintage brown check tweed jacket, striped tie with embroidered ducks, brand new Land's End blue oxford (not a bad roll on that collar, is it?), and a cheap brown cotton v-neck from (gasp!) Old Navy. (C'mon, one cheap commodity every now and again won't kill you.)
And I've always been a sucker for crisp dark jeans with shiny brown dress shoes. They ain't half bad with Bean boots, either.

I know that APC is a really hot brand right now. I've seen those jeans, I have friends who own them. They really are nice, but they also cost about $150. For jeans? That's plain foolish. Besides, thier website only offers jeans up to a 31 inch waist. I know, they are available larger, but seriously, 31 inches? These jeans are cut the same, from similar rigid denim produced in the U.S.A. The first time I wore them, someone (who knows) even asked if they were APC. He was shocked when I said they were Wrangler. The only two slight differences I can really find is that these have a zipper fly, and lack selvedge at the seam...minor details, in my book.

Jeans are inherently American. APC's are French. These Wranglers are made of American cloth, but assembled in Mexico. That's less than pefect, I know, but when you consider the fact that Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California are full of Mexicans wearing these very jeans to work on ranches and farms, it helps take a bit of the sting off. Or something. I'd love to buy exclusively U.S. products, with the occasional British or Italian piece, but until we get rid of big box retailers, who push small business out of the way, and start making things that are available to all of us, not just rich single people with no kids, I'm going to have to settle for what I can get. It's either not or walk around naked sometimes.

Conclusion: these jeans are great. At $20.99, on sale, they were a deal, but full reatil is only $24.99, still a bargain. And Shepler's is a fun site, plus they shipped to my house in less than a week. Highly recommended.


Anonymous said...

great jeans, they fit you well. why is your collar buttoned down. you're italian! agnelli is currently turning over in his grave. j/k

Chris said...

Not that is justifies the price, but APCs are vanity sized, so a 31 waist actually fits a 35 or something like that.

BilloBallo said...

APC is vanity sized? Not the ones I own. I check the website. They sell up to W34 for most jeans (unless they are sold out).

But hey - I love this post. I wish I could buy a pair at Kepler's but they don't ship international, and a quick search has produced no shops who have this jeans in Europe. I guess the Rodeo scene here isn't quite as evolved.


John Johnston said...

Wrangler has been my favorite jeans brand for many years now. I've run into inconsistent size issues w/ Levis and Lees have become harder to locate. I love the quality and fit of Wranglers, not to mention their affordability.

And yes, I like to wear them w/ longwings. ;-)

Anonymous said...

APC = Annoyingly Pricey Clothing?

Armilyn and David said...

Those Wranglers look nice. My dad wears them too, but he buys the rinsed and stonewashed versions.

A few weeks ago I googled "wallet made usa" and eventually came across Texas Jeans, which are strangely produced in North Carolina. I'm guessing it is probably because of fabric mills. But they are produced in the US, out of US materials, and retail in the sub $40 range. Unfortunately, most of their jeans fall into the heavy stonewashed category. I only saw one men's style that was relatively dark blue, but it appeared to be a cotton/poly blend.

They're not my cup of tea, but at least someone is producing some US denim at non-designer pricing.


Anonymous said...

It is heartening to see someone return the contrast of sporting workman's wear in public. The genuine article; bested only by a pair stained with manure or slurry!

Anonymous said...

I am going to order a pair on your recommendation. I'm not a big jeans guy, I find most jeans are vanity sized and I have to go down a size as a result. Would you say these run true to size? I am guessing so. i don't see cowboys getting too up in arms about their waist size.

Young Fogey said...

Gotta take you to task on this one, G. It's not the big box retailers that are responsible for the decline of American manufacturing: it's "free" trade.

Why the scare quotes? Because as currently practiced, "free" trade means that Western countries allow anyone to enter their markets without tarriffs or other barriers, while all the other countries subsidize their home industries, allowing them to underprice the international competition. Other countries also often keep barriers to international competition up, further harming American (or other Western) businesses.

Doubt it? Well, try to buy an American-made TV, or American-made textiles, or any of a wide range of manufactured goods. Either you can't because they don't exist, or they're priced out of reach, or they're just hard to find. (Which is the one useful thing about A Continuous Lean: The American List is a compilation of domestically-made products.)

Big box retailers are a symptom, not a cause. The only solution is to refuse to buy imported garbage, buy American, and, most important of all, demand a change in the laws. Sadly, the most important part is also the hardest to achieve--but we gotta start somewhere!

Anonymous said...

I'll be interested to see how you integrate your wranglers into the rest of your wardrobe.
At least to my eye, they have a much more western look than Levis, perhaps some spagetti western, Italian dandy meets the Amercian west ensambles are in order.
Anyways they look good.

I do have a pair of APCs (bough used at a discount), they really are very well made. (though the cut isn't great for taller folks like myself).
I have no problem paying for quality, and would recommend them to anyone who can afford them.
After all, due to my job, I wear jeans 5-days a week
why not spend the extra cash on something that gets that much wear (and holds up).

Some of the best dressed people I see mix thrift find with a couple nice, higher end new things.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for American made, you should be able to find some Levi's 501s. They're harder to find than other producers and are sometimes more expensive because of it, but they still exist. Also, all of my Levi's have rivets on the pockets and I own three pairs. I love the tweed and that tie.

kckclassic said...

those back pocket rivets were covered over by denim at some point in levi's history, but that's a small detail that's been lost it seems.
Being an urban kansan I've never been big on wranglers. I needed some new denim recently, and was tempted by APC and other current brands. Ultimately I picked up some levi 501 shrink-to fits, and don't regret it one bit. Dark, decent cut, and great price. THE classic jean, and they are only fitting and looking better with wear.

Thad said...

Currently sporting a pair of Levi's with rivets on the pockets ... not sure if this exact pair is made in the USA or not but *some* of their range is still made in America. Personally, I wear 527s in mainly dark denim because the cut works for me.

But, if Wranglers work for you, that is great because I agree that designer jeans are for posers!

Archibald Weeks said...

Here's a great article from the NYTimes concerning the Wrangler 13MWZ "Cowboy Cut" and what makes them so iconic: "The pockets are positioned high in the back so that riders don’t sit on their wallets, and the belt loops are set a little wider in front to accommodate a championship buckle. They are made with flat rivets that do not scratch saddles and large zippers that riders can handle with gloves. The tapered legs fit tightly over boots so that they don’t drag like the flared “boot cut” jeans, which have little to do with practicing cowboys; and the inseam is four to six inches longer than the norm so that when a rider is in the saddle, the bottom of the jeans sits just so on the top of the foot."


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post, I am ordering a pair! Great taste in jeans.

_ said...

One of the point you missed is that Wrangler, unlike Levi's, has never changed the cut. The 13MWZ basically sports the same shape and details for 50+ years. However, do not wash those puppies. The first wash will turn them a peculiar blueberry color and the broken twill softens up much quicker than your typical Levi's.

Cyclo2000 said...

Really nice look. Will be looking at ripping that off real soon!

I've got a nice pair of RL rigids that are very similar to your Wranglers (real Wranglers are refered to as Bluebell, I believe, see here http://www.aeroleatherclothing.com/webapp/aeroleather/servlet/AeroViewPage?page=displaysubcatlist&subcatid=183
but I gotta say the finest jeans I've ever had are Nudie jeans. Swedish design, Japanese denim, sewn in Italy, 'king great product. Getting expensive nowadays but £100 when I got mine. I've had 'em patched and repaired about three times and intend to wear 'em till they fall off my arse.
The fit on my Rls is uncannily like your Wranglers though. £35 in a discount warehouse.

Anonymous said...

Bought a pair of the Slim Cowboy Cut, 936DEN off of Sheplers about 6 months ago and haven't washed them yet. I am more than satisfied.

Some Assembly Required said...

I too have no use for $150 jeans, vanity sizing or not. I'm also not really a fan of rigid denim that takes three months or more to break in. Can I put in a word for the Arizona jeans from JCPenney? They are tagged at $30 but are almost always on sale to some degree; on Sunday they were two for $38, but I've gotten them for as low as $15 a pair.

They are completely plain and devoid of any stitching or markings other than a patch on the back waist (which I remove anyway). Original fit is on the slim side, but not what you'd call skinny; relaxed fit is about right for a mid-40s guy like me. Durability is about average, but for such a low price it's no big. I have enough pairs that I can rotate and not wear out any one pair too quickly.

But the best jeans I've ever had are, of all things, Ralph. Not the cheapo Polo Jeans Co. line, but regular Polo from Filene's (granted, I bought them in 2002). They have a leather patch on the back waist that says "Polo Authentic Dungarees."

It's taken some effort but I've been able to find additional pairs just like them on eBay, and I typically ended up paying $15-20 per pair including shipping. Some were made in Mexico, but some were made in USA.

foolio_iglesias said...

You totally owned that outfit man,the jeans completely transformed the rest of the outfit....

MJA said...

Can I just barf on some Arizona jeans please?

Corey Whompus said...

Best jean suggestion in a long time. Unless you're wondering into western wear stores, I can't think of a way an average person would even know about these jeans (Had to go into a store called "The Boot Corral" to make see how they fit).

I got a pair of the rigid slim fit and it's the best looking pair of jeans I've ever owned. Just a clean, adult jean. Kudos

Anonymous said...

Awesome post - living in TX i grew up with Wranglers but had always been a 501er. I recently found some Wranglers at the thrift for $1.50 and gave em a try. I love everything about them including the zipper! and they have my correct waist - 37. they are also sanforized so there is little worry about shrinkage when they are finally washed. this being texas i can buy them new at the army/navy store for about $20. or GEBOs - where they do sell powertools! thank, DinTX