As far as wardrobe essentials go, a quality pair of jeans is second only to a rail and some hangers. Along with a few well-fitting tees, shirts and a core selection of outerwear, they form the foundation of your day to day attire; the backbone of your casualwear.
“Jeans have been an integral part of modern menswear ever since workwear crossed over into the mainstream after World War II,” says Rudy Budhdeo, owner of Son of a Stag, the UK’s foremost premium denim specialist store.
“Today, they’re a fully fledged wardrobe staple – equally at home digging around under a car bonnet or out for food at a trendy restaurant,” adds Budhdeo.
Strangely, though, while most style savvy men relish any opportunity to splash out on the latest trainers, a new jacket or a made-to-measure suit, jeans are rarely given the same attention.
But the way we see it, something this integral to your daily look deserves careful consideration. That’s why we put the best pairs on the market through their paces and rounded up our favourites below.
To help you get the best bang for your buck, we went over every pair of jeans with a fine-tooth comb – paying close attention to craftsmanship and quality of material.
All of our selections were then tried on and tested in order to arm you with first-hand feedback about fit, comfort, looks and overall wearability.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Uniqlo slim fit selvedge jeans
Jeans may have their roots in the USA, but Japan is undoubtedly their spiritual home. It seems fitting, then, that its premier high street fashion retailer should be responsible for some of the best affordable denim to be found, and these slim fit selvedge jeans are no exception. Selvedge refers to a type of high-quality denim that is woven using traditional machines called shuttle looms. It produces a clean finish to the edge of the fabric which looks pretty sharp and, perhaps more importantly, stops the denim from unravelling. The catch is it's often quite expensive, but these jeans give you plenty of change from £50 and easily compete in the looks and quality department with options twice their price. Fit wise, they do exactly what it says on the tin – nice and slim but with a stretchy quality that allows for impressive freedom of movement (maybe even some lunges if you’re feeling brave).
Asket raw denim jeans
If you’re the type of person that finds yourself head scratching when faced with too many choices, then Asket’s tightly curated approach to retail could be for you. In true Scandi minimalist style, this Swedish brand sells only what it deems to be “essential” and puts the rest of its efforts into ensuring those garments are of the highest possible quality. Take these raw denim jeans, for example. The fabric is woven in Japan, stitched together in Italy and the resulting pair of jeans fits like a glove thanks to the detailed sizing options on offer. Plus, thanks to Asket’s direct-to-consumer approach, there are no retail markups, so you’re getting a pair of jeans that would cost considerably more elsewhere for the best possible price.
H&M slim straight selvedge jeans
If you measure a retailer by its ability to deliver a mixture of trend led pieces and evergreen wardrobe mainstays, but at highly competitive prices, then it’s difficult to fault H&M. Case in point: these endlessly versatile, black selvedge jeans in a timeless slim fit. Another pair at a reasonable price, these jeans offer all the more reason to take the plunge and find out what this selvedge business is all about firsthand. A high quality, affordable option.
A.P.C. petit new standard slim fit jeans
Parisian label A.P.C. is renowned for its upscale take on wardrobe basics, and denim is no exception. In fact, the brand’s jeans are often touted as a sort of gateway drug into the world of raw denim and the unique fades and glove-like fits that come with it. This style is A.P.C.’s slim, tapered silhouette. It’s spun from reassuringly heavy Japanese denim and, like all great jeans, features a subtle, red selvedge line to the inside of the outseam that can be seen when the legs are cuffed. Perfect for anyone looking to leave the high street behind and dip their legs into premium denim for the first time.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers E5 relaxed tapered jeans
With Savile Row, the shoemaking heritage of Northamptonshire and London’s status as a global fashion capital, England is pretty well established as a sartorial powerhouse. But something it’s never been known for is jeans. Until now.
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers is a denim workshop born and bred in east London and its jeans are some of the most robust we tested. The E5 has a relaxed, tapered fit – perfect for those with muscular legs – and are made in London using high grade Turkish denim.
Be warned though, this is serious stuff. If you’re looking for something that’s comfy right off the peg, then these aren't for you. If, however, you’re willing to persevere through the initial stiffness then you’ll eventually be rewarded with a custom fit garment that will fade and stretch to become as unique to you as your fingerprint.
Mr P slim fit jeans
Mr P is the in-house label of luxury menswear retailer Mr Porter, and is known for its premium basics and tastefully executed seasonal staples. Its clothing doesn't come cheap, but the cost is reflected in the quality, fit and look. These white slim-fit jeans are a shining example of what the brand does so well. They are simple yet eye-catching and made from only the finest Japanese selvedge denim. There’s minimal detailing, and the stitching is tonal to keep things clean and uncluttered.
Levi’s 501 original fit jeans
Without Levi’s, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article today. The San Francisco denim brand started life as a simple haberdashery in the 1800s before singlehandedly starting a global indigo legwear revolution. Suffice to say, in the time that has elapsed since, Levi’s has made a lot of pairs of jeans, but the 501 is undeniably the most iconic style. It’s been in production since 1873 and features a classic, straight leg cut that will never go out of fashion. If you’re looking for something timeless and steeped in history, these are hard to beat.
Everlane slim fit jeans
American brand Everlane is all about transparency. Clothes are ethically made (you can even check out the factory where your jeans were made on the brand’s site), stylish and competitively priced thanks to the direct-to-consumer business model. If you don’t believe us, just check out the price comparison listed for every garment.
The label’s slim fit jeans are a best seller and it’s easy to see why. Firstly, they look, feel, and wear way beyond their modest price tag. Secondly, they’re produced using methods that are safer for the environment, including recycling 98 per cent of the water used during the manufacturing process. And last but not least, they’re comfortable right from the word go, thanks to the Japanese denim that has a touch of stretch added to combat stiffness.
Edwin ED-55 regular tapered jeans
It wasn’t until the 1950s that Japan became obsessed with jeans, but the machinery at Edwin’s Tokyo factory had already whirred, clunked and rumbled into action years before then. Today, the brand is one of the leading names in denim and has been responsible for inventing industry changing production techniques like stone washing.
The ED-55 is the brand's most popular style, most likely due to its timeless cut, comfortable fit and versatility. This particular iteration features a nice textured wash for a worn in look right off the hanger and is woven from a particular denim (12.6oz Japanese Yoshiko left hand denim) that is designed to have a nice soft feel for added comfort.
The verdict: Men’s jeans
When weighing up quality, affordability, fit and look, it’s hard to beat Uniqlo’s slim fit selvedge jeans, which tick all the boxes and then some. Still, if you have the budget for it, we’d suggest stretching to a pair of Asket’s raw denim jeans or A.P.C.’s petit new standards – both of which will age better and last longer thanks to the higher tier of denim used.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.