This week's Critical Shopper Jon Caramanica documents his descent into the denimhead cult from which few have been known to return. No more pre-washed, whiskered denim for him! Seven for All Mankind? Citizens of Humanity? Feh! It's authentic unwashed denim from here on out.
He starts off innocently enough with a pair of vintage style raw denim Levi's 501s, the denim gateway drug. His search for a proper chainstitched hem leads him inevitably to Self Edge, the Lower East Side denim specialists who will shorten your jeans the right way for a mere $25. (For the record, Earnest Sewn will also hem with a chain stitch, but we are pretty sure they will only alter or repair Earnest Sewn jeans). Of course, now he has walked into the lion's den where the prices escalate exponentially as the tiniest details become more obscure and so ever more captivating.
The wall of jeans at Barneys New York may be overwhelming, and the struggle between 511s and 514s at the Levi’s store might make for a momentary distraction, but Self Edge, with its selection consisting largely of micro-variations on a theme, forced existential grappling: Am I articulate enough to make an appropriate selection, and then properly pull it off?
Yes, it turns out he is and winds up with a pair of $350 Iron Heart jeans made of 21 oz. denim which is almost like wearing pants made of plywood. We congratulate him on his entry into the exclusive circle of enlightened jeans wearers, but we must warn him about the chafing. That breaking in period has got to be a bitch and a half.
Critical Shopper | Self Edge: Denim for a City That Takes a Tough Hide by John Caramanica (NYTimes)
Self Edge 157 Orchard Street at Rivington Street, Lower East Side