Bryceland’s, Rubato, Blackhorse Lane, vintage – Permanent Style

My favourite jeans largely come from brands that make in Japan, using Japanese denim, but that tweak the fit to make it their own. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they’re also classic-menswear brands, who make or at least appreciate tailoring. 

I’ve tried a few from more workwear-oriented brands, such as Full Count, and they are great. But little aspects of fit or wash tend to make them not as good on me. I’ve tried to explain why, below, because this is personal. 

My other jeans are vintage – 501s from the 1960s to the 1990s – which is down to two separate factors: colour and pure love of denim.

I have yet to find a light-wash blue jean that I like from a modern brand, as they do have to be industrially washed. And the love of denim means I find it endlessly fascinating finding unique jeans, each of their era and style but also distinctive. This is a deeper involvement with denim that won’t be for everyone. 

Here’s a rundown of the jeans I wear, with brief explanations. Related articles on PS include what makes quality in jeans, how to wash and wear raw denim, and the extent to which jeans can be altered and repaired.

Bryceland’s black 933 

Size 32 (normal size, worked after shrink to fit)

These are my favourite jeans right now (above), and have been wearing in beautifully. Initially I got some veining from putting them on too high a spin with the first wash, but that’s fading as the rest of the denim does. 

It’s a softer denim than most, including the other Bryceland’s jeans, which makes them very comfortable, and it has a tendency to go white along seams and wear points quickly. 

The fit is just perfect on me. It’s mid-rise, with a slightly tapered leg, and crucially has a little extra room around the hips. Anyone that has larger thighs will love this – my bane was always jeans that were tight on the thighs but still gaped at the waist, and that was the original reason I went bespoke

Rubato Lot Nr1 denim dark-blue rinse

Size 32 (normal size, once-washed so little shrinkage)

There isn’t much that separates the Rubato and Bryceland’s jeans, in terms of denim or fit. Rubato jeans are similar to the 933 (and 133S) from Bryceland’s, just a very slightly lower rise and a touch less of that fullness on the hips. They’re still a great, modern style that I know works well for lots of people. 

I have a pair of these that’s a few years old (above), and love the blueness of the denim. It’s similar to the original Bryceland’s jean, the 133, and a very classic 501 colour. I was a little unsure on size as the 32 initially felt a little tight, but it gave enough and has proved to be the right choice. 

The main reason I got the Rubato jeans was the fact the Bryceland’s 133 was a little too wide in the leg for me. But Bryceland’s now also do the 133S, in the same fit as the 933, and I got a pair recently (size 31, they shrink less) that I’m looking forward to wearing in.

They’re a left-hand twill so should be smoother in the long term, though right now the aspect I notice most is they’re a darker indigo than the Rubato, which can useful style-wise (eg better with black shoes). 

Vintage 1970s Levi’s 501s

No size (but not as relevant with vintage)

For most people, the only reason to go vintage is if they can’t find a light wash they like. There’s a lot of raw or one-wash denim out there, and my favourites are mentioned above. But there’s less washed denim because it’s an industrial process, and so much harder for a small brand to do. I’ve seen Blackhorse Lane go through that process in the past few years. 

I have yet to find a light-wash from a modern brand I like, and so I’ve bought vintage. Orslow is probably the closest I found, but the fits aren’t great for me. 

My favourite vintage pair is from the 1970s (above), bought at Le Vif in Paris, and I wear them more than any other jean. The quality from that period is as good as any modern maker; they’ve washed out nice and light; and the wear over the decades means they have the unique character that’s the added bonus of vintage. 

Blackhorse Lane NW1 ecru jeans

Made to measure

I have two pairs of white jeans (or rather ecru) but at some point I’ll probably switch to something in the Bryceland’s or Rubato fit. I’ve used the made-to-measure service at Blackhorse Lane to good effect, but sometimes it’s hard to know what you really want until you experience it. 

I also have a pair from Drake’s (above) which are good, but it’s a very soft denim and doesn’t age in the way I appreciate in other jeans. The straight pockets with coloured linings are also not ideal. Hopefully it’s all good research for the blog, and for articles like this. 

I’m really looking forward to wearing white jeans again when the weather turns. It’s such an easy way to wear paler trousers, and they can easily be dressed down in a cold-colour wardrobe kind of way (as above).

Other vintage

I’ve collected a few other pairs of vintage jeans over the years, all of which are worn less than the seventies pair above, but which I love and are worth listing. I’ve linked to articles below that show them in use. 

1960s blue 501s (above) – My first pair of vintage, the most worn and the most beautiful, but also the most delicate. They’re still wearable, but can’t be worn every day. Something you love as an object as much as a piece of clothing.

1990s black 501s (pictured top) – These are interesting as a demonstration of what ‘lower quality’ denim can be like. It’s smoother, more uniform, and while there’s definitely less character, in some ways it makes them easier to wear with tailoring. Picked up cheap – see article here.

1990s blue 501s (pictured below) – These were bought in research for that article above, but I kept them because they were a good back-up jean. They’ve proved useful, though I prefer all my others here.

2000s ripped 501s (second image below) – These were also cheap, and I loved how thrashed they were. Originally they came with big patches over the holes in the knees. I took them off, but am still in two minds whether I prefer the look with or without. They’re also the palest jeans I have, which makes them particularly nice in summer.

Lastly, a quick word on the bespoke Levi’s I had made in London years ago, because it says something about fits and fashions. 

I have two pairs, and have covered both their making and the way they have aged. I love them, and still have them. But today, 10 years later, the cut is just too slim for me. 

Changes like this are inevitable in menswear, and tend to happen in cycles that last perhaps 15-20 years. We covered it in some depth here.

This can be frustrating, but it’s a lot better than womenswear, and if you keep to moderate changes then the cycles are longer. Jeans are also so personal that I think I’ll always keep those bespoke ones. 

Related pieces on denim (a fair bit – and not including style pieces):

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