From dark and raw to bleached and faded, we can all agree that a great-fitting pair of jeans is a menswear essential that will never go out of style. With more new and unique denim brands entering our Men’s Shop lineup than ever before, we asked our buying team to name a few whose stories (and, of course, jeans) they thought you, our valued reader, would like to know. Keep reading for the low-down on eight cutting-edge denim brands—from zany Canadian start-ups to 125-year-old American icons.
Naked & Famous Denim
Naked & Famous Denim sources its fabrics only in Japan, at prestigious mills steeped in heritage and renowned for craftsmanship—and manufactures its jeans only in the brand’s homeland of Canada, on high-quality machinery run by well-trained staff.
The result is top-shelf, no-nonsense jeans, at a great price, for veteran denim-heads and newcomers alike. (Plus some freaky denim experiments—more on that later.)
The other result is that, after countless trips from Canada to Japan and back, Naked & Famous founder Brandon Svarc and team have become connoisseurs of both nations’ cultures. Below are Svarc’s travel tips (warnings?) for the next time you’re up North—or far East.
Japan: Baseball. “We attended a Climax Series (that’s what they call Playoffs) in Tokyo on our last visit, and it was so much fun. The cheering is orderly and organized—it’s highly different from North-American fans. At the 7th-inning stretch, everyone simultaneously launches blue balloons in the air! It’s quite a sight.”
Canada: Hockey. “Not shockingly, we love hockey. We love to play on ice, roller and floor. Funny enough, we actually once made denim-and-leather baseball mitts, so I guess the next sports creation from our brand should be denim-covered hockey gauntlets.”
Japan: Udon. “Okayama is where we buy our denim fabric, and there are many famous Udon restaurants that we hit up each time we visit. I prefer hot Udon with shrimp tempura. Mmm.”
Canada: Poutine. “If you ever visit Montreal, you are not allowed to leave before eating poutine! It’s french fries with squeaky cheese curds and gravy poured on top! Also mmm.”
Japan: Habushu. “It’s this crazy alcohol from Okinawa, Japan, that contains a venomous cobra inside the bottle! We have three bottles in our office. The Japanese say it makes your bamboo stiff.”
Canada: Ice Wine. “To be honest, this isn’t our personal favorite to drink, but it is our favorite gift to bring each time we visit Japan. It’s made in Canada, and creating a wine out of frozen grapes makes a great story to tell.”
IV. ADULT ENTERTAINMENT
Japan: Hostess Clubs. “Japanese adult clubs aren’t what you might think. In fact, there is no nudity allowed. Fabric suppliers love taking us to these places where cute Japanese girls sit and pour your drinks and talk to you about life, and anything really. You pay by the hour, but it’s all-you-can-drink.”
Canada: Danse Contact. “Montreal is quite famous for its gentleman’s clubs. It’s said that we have more than Vegas! Personally, we only attend these places if one of our friends is having a bachelor party, but the veterans know that the best clubs to visit are the ones that say ‘Danse Contact’ in the window, which means it’s 100% legal to…” [Ed. note: The rest of this sentence omitted for the sake of decency.]
Japan: Kojima Hotel View. “We always stay at the same hotel in Kojima, Japan, which is a beautiful city in the countryside near Okayama, where there are many fabric mills and denim companies. There is a stunning view of the Great Seto Bridge, which is the longest two-tiered bridge system in the world.”
Canada: Whistler Blackcomb. “While in Whistler, BC, a few years ago, I ventured to the top of the giant Blackcomb mountain glacier. It took like three or four chairlifts and two buses to get there! But once at the top, it was one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life.”
Coming Soon from Naked & Famous. Here’s the brand’s founder Brandon Svarc talking up the styles we’ll carry at the Nordstrom Men’s Shop this coming spring.
Advanced Color-Change Technology. Did he say ‘thermo-chromic’? Here they are in action.
The Everest of Denim. Those freaky denim experiments we mentioned earlier? Here’s one from previous seasons: jeans so thick, they can stand up on their own. Watch to hear the method behind Svarc’s madness.
[Top grid of photos courtesy of the official Naked & Famous Denim Instagram feed: @NFDenim. Videos courtesy of the brand's official YouTube channel, and the Montreal Gazette. Additional photos via Wikipedia, except as noted here: Japanese baseball fans via; Demi Moore from Striptease movie poster courtesy of Castle Rock Entertainment, Lobell/Bergman Productions, Columbia Pictures; Great Seto Bridge via; Whistler Blackcomb via. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]