When it comes to denim, America has an incredibly rich history. A staple among working-class men in the 1920s who gave it their all in developing this great nation, denim still remains a classic to this day.
Unfortunately, finding a pair of jeans that are still made in America is quite tough. Over the past several decades, so many brands moved their operations overseas and have compromised both their name and quality for a few extra bucks.
But in recent years, a resurgence of American denim is starting to happen. Not only are American-made jeans a point of pride, but their quality of craftsmanship is unsurpassed.
Often relying on beautiful raw denim coupled with a selvedge seam, these jeans are built to last you years rather than a single season.
Let’s take a look at some of the best American made jeans available today:
1. Best Overall: Todd Shelton Pro Selvedge Dark Wash
Sometimes high quality made in the USA jeans requires men to make a bit of an investment. The ROI on the Todd Shelton Pro Selvedge Dark Wash is, however, some of the best jeans out there. With a customizable waist, inseam, and tapering when purchasing and made in East Rutherford, New Jersey, this pair of jeans will serve you well for a slightly dressed-down outfit to heading out to the bar with the bros. The dark navy tone gives the pair a refined, dressier look, while the bartacks provide a bit of extra structure and solid construction. The denim itself is made in Japan, one of the hot spots for great denim in the world. The Todd Shelton Fit Kit makes ensuring you get the right size for your top dollar.
- Gorgeous selvedge stitching.
- Bartacks for extra support
- Todd Shelton Fit Kit
- Very expensive
- Fabric made in Japan
What You Need To Know
2. Best Jeans Under $100 Levi’s Made in the USA 511 Slim Fit Jean
The absolute standard in jeans, Levi’s Made in the USA 511 Slim Fit is a great pair that won’t require a huge investment. The company has been making jeans for men since the California gold rush, and that experience has helped them produce some of the nicest jeans around. Available in tons of different colors, the 511s are made from 99% cotton and just 1% elastane, meaning you get the stretch without sacrificing quality. Near the bottom of our price range, these jeans sit below the hip and are slim through the knee to the ankle – perfect for a night out.
- Iconic name
- Higher cotton content with stretch
- Great price
- Color combinations could offer varied fabric content
- Standard sizing only
What You Need To Know
Tellason is a great company and has been selling high-quality denim products for many years, and they’re offering a stellar choice with the Stock Slim Tampered Fit jeans. Plus, near the bottom of our price range, you get great quality for a small investment. Made from 14 oz. non-selvedge denim sourced from North Carolina, these button-fly jeans have a mid-rise and offer a normal back rise, keeping your bottom covered up no matter what you’re doing.
- Made in America quality with 14 oz. denim
- Button fly adds a nice touch
- American small business
- Button fly may not be right for everyone
- These do tend to run a bit tight
What You Need To Know
As the name suggested, these Dearborn Denim Tailored Fit Jeans are made in the most American of places, Dearborn Michigan, home to the auto industry. 10oz tri-blend stretch and ringspun cotton provide structure with just a hint of movement to ensure you stay comfortable. At the bottom end of our price range, these are mid-rise, sleek through the hip, and fit great for any occasion. Wear the darker washes to your favorite restaurant or to work.
- Expertly crafted in Chicago.
- Customized cuts
- Great dye options
- Slightly tighter fit – may not work for all
- The denim itself from Mexico
What You Need To Know
A great pair of jeans that are made in the USA that are available in five different wash colors, the KATO Pen Slim Stretch Selvedge is a pair of jeans made for men with discerning tastes who want a slightly distressed look. Each pair is handmade in Los Angeles with premium 14 oz Japanese denim from a company that is known the world over for stretch and comfort while maintaining a great look. The selvedge provides a great addition that elevates the style. Wear the Pen Slims anywhere you’d wear a nice pair of denim. A bit on the pricier end at the top of our price range – worth it for the price.
- Handmade in Los Angeles
- Great 14 oz. denim
- Great break-in
- Only available in waist sizes
What You Need To Know
No-fuss, no muss, the American Giant Dakota Straight Men’s Jeans are optimal for getting things done. Made from Mount Vernon custom 12.5 oz denim, these are 80% denim with 18/2 polyester and spandex. That added bit of material makes for a great amount of stretch while ensuring your jeans stay looking like jeans. American Giant hand sands their Dakota Straights before adding a custom leather patch – that probably accounts for the slightly higher price tag – near the top of our price range.
- Stellar cut and fit
- Enough stretch to be comfortable
- Would love to see more wash options
- Length and waist are fixed so you may not find exactly what you need
What You Need To Know
7 Tips on Finding the Right Pair of Jeans
Jeans can come in many different fits, here’s how they differ from one another:
- Skinny: Skinny jeans are the tightest fit throughout with a tapered leg opening. They are often low to mid-ride and are best for men who have slimmer frames.
- Slim: Not too tight but not loose and often just perfect. Usually mid-rise, the slim cuts are straight at the hip and slim through the thigh. Great for men who wants a bit of a snug fit.
- Regular: Regular cut jeans are straight from hip to leg and not too tight or loose. They’re also usually mid-rise. Perfect for men who like to have some room.
- Relaxed: Comfort is key here. Relaxed cut jeans are loose throughout from hip to leg. Sometimes men need a bit more space – perfect.
- Loose: Loose fit are baggy and roomy with extra space throughout the entire jean, from hip to leg. While not the most stylish at the moment, loose jeans are great for men that need to be able to move.
Like the fit of the jeans, the cut from the knee to the foot varies greatly. Here are some of the options you will find in your research:
- Straight cut: A straight cut jeans sounds exactly like it is; straight. There is very little variation from the top of the leg to the bottom.
- Boot cut: Boot cut jeans can have a variety of cuts throughout the leg but generally have a wider leg opening to accommodate the jeans fitting over a pair of boots. The bottom flares a bit at the calf.
- Tapered: Tapered cut jeans gradually become narrower going towards the bottom and are essentially the opposite of boot cut.
Most jeans come in the following material compositions. It’s important to know their differences as they can have a large impact on how the jeans feel and wear over time:
- Denim: Most high quality jeans are made of denim, which is fabric made of 100% cotton twill – usually blue and white cotton woven into diagonal parallel lines. During processing, denim is divided into wet and dry – wet is smoother and softer (often used for skinny jean styles) while dry is stiffer and more durable.
- Cotton: Much like the square and the rectangle, denim is made of cotton, but not all cotton is denim. Some jeans are made of cotton – these look the same but are softer, easy to use and dye, versatile, and makes jeans that are softer and thinner than denim (but this comes with a downside as they are not as durable).
- Combination and Other Fabric: Many pairs of jeans also have a combination of materials, usually denim or cotton blended with another material. This second material is often a bit elastic like polyester to achieve stretch. Typical stretch denim is 10% polyester. Some, generally cheaper jeans may be made of other fabrics like polyester blends. Sustainable options are also becoming available, using materials like hemp and bamboo For real, authentic, American made jeans we prefer and recommend denim.
- Hardware: Rivets are most often made of copper and zippers, snaps, buttons are typically steel.
Jeans are normally and historically blue, but even within that limitation, you have nearly endless options: standard indigo/mid-wash, dark wash, light wash, and more. Outside of blue, other standards include black, grey, and white. You can find other shades as well. Jeans are actually blue due to the chemical properties of blue dye. So, the wilder the color, the less likely the jeans are made with real denim. (source). For a well-rounded jean collection, we recommend a light and/or mid-wash, a dark wash, and a black pair.
There are tons of denim and menswear brands that make denim but many are not made in the USA The original is Levi’s, but even not all of their jeans are made in the United States anymore so it’s important to double-check. A few of the brands that are made in America are:
|Brand Name||Location||Year Founded|
|American Giant||San Francisco, CA||2012|
|Buck Mason||Los Angeles, CA||2013|
|All American Clothing Co.||Arcanum, OH||2003|
|Tellason||San Francisco, CA||2011|
|Bullet Blues||Coral Springs, FL||2012|
|Dearborn Denim & Apparel||Chicago, IL||2016|
|KATO’||Los Angeles, CA||1999|
|Levi’s American Made||San Francisco, CA||1853|
|Flint & Tinder / Huckberry||San Francisco, CA||2010|
We feature several options in our top picks, but if you choose another, do your due diligence to ensure it is a reputable brand – they are more likely to stand behind their products
High-quality jeans generally aren’t cheap and American-made usually doesn’t help with the price. Prices can range from ~$50 to several hundred, but you can get a great pair of American-made jeans between $100 and $200.
Rips and distress can provide a cool, worn look for your jeans. Distressed jeans are given a vintage look to appear worn-in but not all distressed jeans are ripped. Rips and distress can vary from slight “damage” to severe with large or multiple rips and lots of fading. Not all men can pull off the very distressed look so be aware of your style.
Stretch jeans have a little (or sometimes a lot) of extra give to them. This can be more comfortable and sometimes offer a better fit. It could be worthwhile if you work in jeans and have to bend often. Remember that what makes jeans stretchy is the addition of a stretch fabric to the denim, so the more stretch the less authentic denim. Some men need a little stretch, so don’t be afraid of it.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.