These are the first jeans I’ve had from Bryceland’s, and I’ve been absolutely loving them – for the fit, the colour and the denim.
But I was a little nervous about buying them, as I’d never had unsanforised denim before. Given I know this will be a concern of readers, and it’s where my journey started, let’s deal with that issue first.
Unsanforised denim will usually shrink more than sanforised, but also mould and shape to your body more. Most raw denim is sanforised to some extent, and doesn’t shrink as much.
The fear, of course, is that you buy the wrong size, it shrinks a bit more or less than you expect, and you end up with jeans you don’t like.
Brycelands try to help in two ways – by listing the jean measurements before and after a first wash, and by selling jeans that have already been washed. So you can buy them with the shrink taken out, or indeed try a washed pair and then buy the unsanforised, knowing how they’ll shrink.
This is what I did, and found the process pretty straightforward.
I noted the measurements on the website, and thought I’d be a 32 or a 33. I then tried on washed pairs in the store and found the 32 a little big snug, the 33 a little bit loose.
Going off the team’s advice, that the denim would stretch to fit, I took the 32 and they have proved to be perfect.
They were a little tight when first washed, but within half a hour of wearing had grown out to the size they needed to be. And of course this is the point of unsanforised denim: ‘shrink to fit’ means not just that it will shrink down, but that it will also then stretch again if required.
After three washes, my jeans now measure 83cm on the waist, which is closer to a washed 33 than a 32 on the Brycelands measurements. They have effectively grown a half inch where they needed it.
Unsanforised denim, like raw denim, has this advantage of fitting to you, fades more, and usually has a more characterful, hand-woven feel (the sanforising process can flatten out some of that character).
But there’s no point having any of those things if they aren’t ones you’ll appreciate. If they’re not, just get a washed pair. (When I say appreciate, by the way, I don’t mean enjoying telling other people about them – that doesn’t count.)
Elsewhere, the jeans are also a great fit. The rise is fairly high without being up around the natural waist – we could call it a high mid-rise – and bigger in the back than the front.
It’s generous through the hips, noticeably curving around them before tapering through the legs – unlike most old 501s, which are very straight through there (my only fit issue I have with vintage ones).
The leg line is then slim, but not as much as I thought it would be. The chart says a 20.1cm hem, I measure mine at 20.8 (there will always be small differences) and most of my dress trousers have a 20cm hem. That taper through from the knee also makes them look more generous elsewhere.
It’s the same fit in the top half, by the way, as the first Bryceland’s jeans, the indigo 133; it just tapers more. They are working on an indigo jean in this cut, but it won’t be ready until the Autumn.
The other significant thing about the Bryceland’s black denim is that it has black yarn in the warp and the weft, where most mainstream jeans use white and black.
The effect is that the jeans are very black – blacker than the jeans you’re used to seeing from mainstream brands, which are virtually mid-grey after they’ve been washed.
They will fade, and mine have already done so after three washes, as you can see from the close-up images. They will also eventually turn a mid-grey, as shown on the Bryceland’s site. But it will take a lot longer, so for a good while they will be more like the colour of mine.
I like this colour, and in fact I’ve found them the easiest thing to wear of all the black pieces I’ve added to my wardrobe. But they are not the grey jeans many people want when they say black, and won’t work in the same way. I particularly like how friends wear navy with their black jeans, for example – almost like a denim version of grey flannel – and these jeans won’t give that look.
On the subject of colour, Ethan would not wash these jeans as quickly and as frequently as I have (or indeed as Kenji has).
Doing so gives up a fair bit of the personal fading that comes with wearing denim from raw – the whiskering, the honeycombing. But while I’m happy to give that time with an indigo jean, I just found the raw black too dark to enjoy wearing, so wasn’t going to get them to that state.
From that point of view, there was less point me buying the unwashed version, but I have also enjoyed how the denim has adapted. (Plus it’s a useful thing to try out for all those unsure PS readers.)
The jeans can be hemmed in store, by the way, as Ben now has the chainstitch machine fully up and running.
Read more about advice on wearing and washing raw denim here.