I'm the Pickiest Denim Shopper—These Are the Only Brands I Trust


(Image credit: @anna__laplaca)

For the longest time, I thought I just wasn't a jeans kind of girl. Crazy, I know. But for most of my life, the only jeans I encountered were the kind that stretched out much like leggings do or worse, were so thin that they revealed everything that lies beneath. While some of those styles are comfy as hell, they just didn't do it for me. So I kind of lost faith in denim altogether for a while, opting instead for trousers and skirts. One day, though, I picked up a pair of vintage jeans and quickly became obsessed with their rigidity and shape. Here were jeans that held everything in place and kept their shape throughout the day. Oh, and they fit so, so well.

I thought it was impossible to find the same vintage-inspired material shopping brand-new, but I was wrong. It took searching far and wide, but I've finally narrowed in on six of the only denim brands I'll trust for rigid jeans. Thanks to how picky I am when denim-shopping, I've learned how to tell the good from the bad and the rigid from the stretchy.

It's all about the fabric breakdown, so check those labels. One hundred percent cotton (aka zero stretch) is like denim gold in my book, but I've also found that anything 95% cotton makes the cut. I always buy true to size, too, since jeans with a high cotton content are almost guaranteed to stretch out a tad and mold to your body after a few wears.

Ahead, I'm breaking down which brands I can count on and exactly what makes their jeans so rigid.

1. Levi's


(Image credit: @kristenmarienichols)

There's a reason vintage Levi's are the gold standard of rigid jeans, and it's because they take great care to develop their fabrics.

Jill Guenza, global VP of women's design at Levi's, shared, "The perfect rigid fabric is all about comfort and moldable structure. We offer a range of soft yet structured fabrics in our 501s and Wedgie fits, from 100% cotton to a mix of 98% cotton and 2% elastane. The small amount of stretch in our 98/2 fabrics provides just the right amount of comfort while holding and molding like a classic pair of vintage Levi's. However, even our 100% cotton shrink-to-fit fabrics that we offer in 501s and Wedgies have more give than other cotton fabrics because of the special method of weaving."

2. Agolde


(Image credit: @anna__laplaca)

Agolde is another brand I love because of its commitment to 100% cotton with each new style it makes. Look no further for on-trend shapes that won't actually cost you an arm and a leg.

3. Citizens of Humanity


(Image credit: @sylviemus_)

A Who What Wear editor favorite, Citizens of Humanity aces their rigid jeans. With a timeless approach to of-the-moment denim trends, this label is one that will remain in your closet for years to come.

4. Re/Done


(Image credit: @devapollon)

Re/Done's line of reclaimed vintage jeans hardly needs an explanation as to why each pair is so high-quality. At a certain point, shopping for vintage jeans became a tiring process. I had to try on every pair I encountered because you never know which could be The One, aka the one pair that ends up fitting you like a glove.

Co-founder Sean Barron shared what it is that you should look for when jeans shopping: "Shoppers should definitely look for a jean that has no give and a bit of weight to the denim. Other than that, it’s about fit. The fit is crucial when shopping for rigid denim. We have so many rigid styles because we want everyone to be able to find the perfect rigid jean for their liking."

Once I slipped into a pair of Re/Dones, I finally understood what all the hype around the brand is about: vintage-quality jeans tailored for a modern shape and fit that you can easily add to cart without lifting a finger.

5. Grlfrnd


(Image credit: @amagodson_a)

Grlfrnd is another favorite of mine because every denim shape across the board is made without stretch. The VP of buying and merchandising, Lauren Yerkes told me that the brand has "a core program that consists of all rigid styles, plus all the key bodies are done in 100% cotton non-stretch. The Karolina group are our best-selling rigid styles, but we also have a rigid stretch program that consists of 1% stretch that still gives it a vintage feel."

This post was published at an earlier date and has been updated.

Senior Editor

Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.