Quick, think about the single-most ubiquitous piece of menswear. If jeans weren’t the first thing that came to mind—T-shirt is also an acceptable answer—there’s a good chance they were among the ones that immediately followed. A relatively recent invention by clothing standards, jeans have gone from a workwear staple to a foundational piece of casual wear to a statement piece within the luxury realm. There are jeans for almost every occasion, cut in ways to fit almost every body, with dyes and peculiarities that are near infinite. Take a look below for our list of 10 of the best and coolest brands of jeans.
Levi Strauss & Co. is an American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi’s brand of denim jeans. It was founded in May 1853 when German immigrant Levi Strauss moved from Buttenheim, Bavaria, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers’ New York dry goods business. The company’s corporate headquarters is located in the Levi’s Plaza in San Francisco.
Levi’s has been worn by people from all walks of life, from miners to actors to Nobel Prize recipients, from Marlon Brando to Albert Einstein himself, whose leather jacket was made by Levi Strauss & Co in the 1930s and sold at auction house Christies in July 2016 for £110,500.
2. Wrangler Jeans
Wrangler is an American manufacturer of jeans and other clothing items, particularly workwear. The brand is owned by Kontoor Brands Inc., which also owns Lee. Its headquarters is in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina in the United States, with production plants in a variety of locations throughout the world.
Wrangler Jeans were first made by the Blue Bell Overall Company, which had acquired the brand when it took over Casey Jones in the mid-1940s. Blue Bell employed Bernard Lichtenstein (“Rodeo Ben”), a Polish tailor from Łódź who worked closely with cowboys, to help design jeans suitable for rodeo use. He convinced several well-known rodeo riders of the time to endorse the new design.
The 13MWZ style, short for the thirteenth version of men’s jeans with zipper, was introduced in 1947. This model is still available and the company has since introduced several other lines that are more designated towards a specific group or demographic. Examples include 20X, Riggs, and Aura. Wrangler also exports its goods to many countries, with Europe and Australia being some of its main export markets.
Wrangler also has a line of music accessories targeted toward country music fans.
3. Lee Jeans
Lee is an American brand of denim jeans, first produced in 1889 in Salina, Kansas. The company is owned by Kontoor Brands, a spin-off of VF Corporation’s Jeans wear Division. Its headquarters is currently in Merriam, Kansas, just outside Kansas City, Missouri. The company states that they are an international retailer and manufacturer of casual wear and work wear and that they have more than 400 employees in the United States. In Australasia, the brand is owned by Pacific Brands since 2007, after it was acquired from Yakka.
The company was formed in 1889 by Henry David Lee as the HD Lee Mercantile Company at Salina, Kansas producing dungarees and jackets. The growth of Lee was prompted by the introduction of the Union-All work jumpsuit in 1913 and their first overall in 1920. Later in the 1920s Lee introduced a zipper fly and continued to expand. Around this time, the first children’s overall line was sold. In 1928 H.D. Lee, founder and president of The H.D. Lee Mercantile Company, died. During the 1930s and 1940s the company became the leading manufacturer of work clothes in the US. In 1944, the Lazy “S” became the official Lee back pocket.
A flood wiped out Lee’s Kansas City distribution center. It ruined the entire stock of merchandise, except the Buddy Lee dolls, which floated. In 1954, Lee expanded into casual wear. During the 1960s the company expanded to 81 countries and in 1969 was acquired by VF Corporation, becoming a brand. Lee aired its first television advertisement, which promoted Lee western wear. In the 1970s Lee shifted its focus from the workwear business and began catering to fashion cycles. Lee created an all-new fit for women under the Ms. Lee label. A youth wear line for boys and girls was introduced.
In 1996, the company launched Lee National Denim Day as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Working with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Lee National Denim Day has raised over $75 million to help fund breast cancer research programs. In 2014, the brand was relaunched in Paris via the Citadium Paris store. In 2019, Lee, Wrangler, Rock & Republic, and VF Outlet were Separated from VF Corporation into Kontoor Brands.
Diesel S.p.A. is an Italian retail clothing company, located in Breganze, Italy. It sells denim, and other clothing, footwear, and accessories. The clothing line has two different brands: Diesel and Diesel Black Gold. There is also a line for children, called Diesel Kid. The company is known for its surreal advertising campaigns.
The Diesel branded luxury fragrance line is owned and produced by L’Oréal. Diesel USA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2019. Its parent company, Diesel SpA, is not part of the bankruptcy filing.
5. Calvin Klein
Calvin Klein Inc. is an American luxury fashion house established in 1968. It specializes in leather, lifestyle accessories, home furnishings, perfumery, jewellery, watches and ready-to-wear. The company has substantial market share in retail and commercial lines as well haute couture garments.
The company was founded by designer Calvin Klein and his childhood friend, Barry K. Schwartz. The company is headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.
6. Pepe Jeans London
Pepe Jeans London is a denim and casual wear jeans brand established in the Portobello Road area of London in 1973, and based in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Spain. Carlos Ortega is the CEO, and owns more than 20% of the company.
Pepe Jeans was founded in 1973 by three brothers who ran a weekend stall at Portobello Road Market in London, before expanding to a store in Carnaby Street and then into Europe in the 1980s. In 1988, Pepe Jeans was owned by Arun, Nitin and Milan Shah.
In February 2015, Pepe Jeans and Hackett London (part of the Pepe Jeans Group) were bought by the Lebanese group M1 and the LVMH subsidiary, L Capital Asia. These companies were previously owned by Torreal Funds (31 percent), Artá Capital (16.4 percent), L Capital Europe (11.5 percent), and its managers. In 2015, Pepe Jeans announced the Group was adding a new brand, Norton Clothing, a tribute to the British motorcycle brand founded in 1898.
7. True Religion
True Religion Brand Jeans is an American clothing company established in December 2002 by Jeff Lubell and Kym Gold and based in Vernon, California. True Religion Brand Jeans focus on premium denim, some of which is made in the United States. In 2009 True Religion was sold in around 900 boutiques and specialty stores in 50 countries on six continents. The flagship store opened in 2005 in Manhattan Beach, California. True Religion products are also sold at major department stores like Von Maur, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as a handful of others. The brand has had to close stores as it goes through bankruptcy restructuring.
True Religion was purchased by TowerBrook Capital Partners on May 10, 2013. That provided shareholders a 52% premium to True Religion’s share price on October 9, 2012, the day before the company announced it was exploring strategic alternatives. The stock had fallen 40% in 2012 up to October 9, 2012, due to a poor Christmas period in 2011 and worries that a shrinking number of shoppers were willing to purchase True Religion’s high-priced jeans. Forbes also noted that over the prior three years, True Religion shares had gained just 11.6% while shares in comparable luxury-goods companies VF Corporation, Ralph Lauren Corporation, and PVH Corp. had all more than doubled in value during the period.
8. Tommy Hilfiger
Tommy Hilfiger, formerly known as Tommy Hilfiger Corporation and Tommy Hilfiger Inc., is an American premium clothing company, manufacturing apparel, footwear, accessories, fragrances and home furnishings. The company was founded in 1985, and today is sold in department stores and over 2000 free-standing retail stores in 100 countries.
In 2006, private equity firm Apax Partners acquired Tommy Hilfiger for approximately $1.6 billion, and in May 2004, PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH) (then known as Philips van Heusen) bought the company. Daniel Grieder was appointed CEO in July 2014, while founder Tommy Hilfiger remains the company’s principal designer, leading the design teams and overseeing the entire creative process. Global sales in retail through the brand in 2013 were US $6.4 billion, and $6.7 billion in 2014.
Burberry Group PLC is a British luxury fashion house headquartered in London, England. Its main fashion house focuses on and distributes trench coats (for which it is most famous), ready-to-wear outerwear, fashion accessories, fragrances, sunglasses, and cosmetics.
Established in 1856 by Thomas Burberry, originally focusing on the development of outdoor attire, the fashion house has moved into the high fashion market, developing a first of its kind fabric called Gabardine, which is completely breathable and waterproof, and exclusively made for the brand. Their pattern-based scarves, trench coats, and other fashion accessories are unique. The first shop opened in the Haymarket, London, in 1891. Burberry was an independent family-controlled company until 1955, when it was reincorporated. In 2005, it completed its demerger from GUS plc, the company’s former majority shareholder.
The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. In 2015, Burberry ranked 73rd in Interbrand’s Best Global Brands report, alongside Louis Vuitton and Prada. Burberry has stores in 51 countries.
10. American Eagle
American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., known as American Eagle, is an American lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer, headquartered at SouthSide Works, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1977, by brothers Jerry and Mark Silverman, as a subsidiary of Retail Ventures, Inc., a company which also owned and operated Silverman’s Menswear. The Silvermans sold their ownership interests, in 1991, to Jacob Price of Knoxville, Tennessee. American Eagle Outfitters is also the parent company of Aerie.
The brand targets male and female university and high school students, although older adults and teenagers wear the brand. There are currently 933 American Eagle Outfitters stores, 109 Aerie stand-alone stores, and 4 Tailgate stand-alone stores. In 1977, the first American Eagle Outfitters store opened in Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan.
Some of the brand’s popular products are jeans, polo shirts, graphic T-shirts, boxers, outerwear, and swimwear.