About the author: Chris (aka Bruschetta) is an America-born university researcher and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a moderator on Threads. His sense of style is inspired by a childhood dressed in Ivy league trad, and the fact that he is enormously well bred.
Half a year ago I committed to a lifestyle change that incorporates frequent exercise, healthy eating, and looking goddamn fantastic. To unveil my new, healthier body shape, I decided to find a few pairs of ass-flattering jeans that would make my buttocks pop like a baby pumpkin.
Uniqlo’s denim does the trick. My ass has never looked more magnificent than it does in these jeans.
Behold! An ass.
Uniqlo is not a newcomer to the denim world. Their jeans have a steady following among members of style forums, but they don’t get very much coverage from style bloggers or trade magazines. I attribute this lack of coverage to three things:
- Uniqlo is a budget brand, and their denim is priced accordingly. It’s hard to get excited over an inexpensive, easilyobtainable product.
- Uniqlo has such a wide variety of denim fabrics, colours, and fits that it’s difficult for a reviewer (or, one assumes, a consumer) to navigate the array of options.
- The product descriptions on Uniqlo’s website lack the buzzwords that men’s style aficionados look for when shopping for denim.
I’m here, dear readers, to unravel the web of confusion caused by Uniqlo’s poor product descriptions, and abundance of fits and colours.
Color, or, the many… many colors.
First, let’s tackle colour. Uniqlo labels each denim colour with a number. In theory, that number should remain consistent across all of their lines, fits, and fabric. For example, a pair of Uniqlo’s denim that is marked ” colour 68″ should always be a dark blue wash. In practice, that is not always the case. Here is a breakdown that lists all of Uniqlo’s denim shades:
- 00 Pure White
- 01 Very Slightly Off White (Almost all of the denim with this number looks pure white in person)
- 03 Light Gray
- 04 Light Gray
- 07 Mid Gray
- 08 Dark Gray
- 09 Black
- 31 Beige
- 50 Light Green
- 61 Very Light Blue
- 63 Light Blue
- 64 Light Blue (Darker than 63 or 66)
- 66 Light Blue
- 67 Medium Blue
- 68 Dark Wash Blue
- 69 Dark Navy Blue
UNIQLO’s #68 shade. Changes a bit, depending on light, but it’s dark blue.
The 68 shade is the only shade that I’ve found to be almost universally consistent. Almost. On most of Uniqlo’s offerings, 68 is a very dark blue wash. It is a few shades darker than it appears in the pictures on Uniqlo’s website. This is the shade of dark wash denim that style bloggers love to recommend. It’s darker than Levi’s tumbled rigid. I have four pairs of Uniqlo jeans in the 68 shade from three different seasons and the colour is consistent across all of the pairs.
The 69 shade is a dark navy shade that is attained by alternating blueblack and white thread in a diagonal pattern. The shade is less dressy and gives the impression of thick, classic workwear. It is only found on their selvedge denim.
Fabric: Standard, Premium, Selvedge, & Coloured
Uniqlo is horrible about describing their denim’s fabric on their website. Why is this important? Well, Uniqlo makes some of its denim with premium Kaihara 13 ounce denim. The only way to know if a pair is made with the premium Kaihara denim is to check its tag. Kaihara denim comes with an extra tag that says “Kaihara”, “Kaihara Premium”, or (in the case of selvedge denim) “Kaihara Selvedge Denim”.
Not all of UNIQLO’s denim is made at Kaihara.
The premium Kaihara denim is great: it’s soft, thick yet flexible, and it retains its shape over multiple wears. One thing to note: the premium denim will fade over time based on your wearing habits. It will also fade dramatically if you wash it in warm or hot water. It will also shrink if washed on a warm or hot cycle. It requires a bit of extra care (wash them inside- out on the delicate cycle), but that care pays off in a great feel and look.
I have three pairs of Uniqlo jeans made with premium Kaihara denim over two different seasonal runs. The Kaihara fabric does vary every season, but it’s always very high quality.
Yet here’s the good news: even Uniqlo’s regular, nonpremium, non-Kaihara denim is pretty good. I have a fourth pair of Uniqlo jeans that were not made with Kaihara denim. The 68 wash is so consistent that it’s hard to tell that they’re not made out of the premium fabric. I’m not convinced that I could tell the fabrics apart in the wild. And by wild, I mean on buttocks other than my own.
UNIQLO’s Selvedge. Thick. Raw. Will shrink.
Uniqlo’s selvedge is a slightly different animal. At the time of this review, Uniqlo uses Kaihara Selvedge for all of its selvedge offerings. The fabric seems to be the same Kaihara selvedge denim that menswear denim boutiques charge a premium for. The fabric is thick, ringspun, and unsanforized (or “raw” as some companies like to market it). Uniqlo neglects to mention the unsanforized bit on their website, and that’ll be a bit of a surprise to many new to the denim game.
Since the fabric is unsanforized, it will shrink and fade when washed. This needs to be repeated for emphasis: The denim is untreated. It will shrink and fade. That means that you should size up by an inch in the waist unless you’re a daredevil, a masochist, or you enjoy a morning routine that involves taking a dip in melted butter before attempting to slip into your jeans.
Editor’s note: UNIQLO customer service told the author that the Selvedge in question is unsanforized. But apparently, there’s much debate about that, and they very well could be sanforized (raw and sanforized are not one and the same). Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that most of this post is about their non-selvedge denim. Specifically, color #68, featured in the asstastic images above. So, keep that in mind, that the back and forth on reddit, is about the Selvedge option, which many of us just don’t “get” (or, appreciate?) anyway.
Uniqlo also offers colour jeans, which are similar to other companies’ five pocket trousers. The fabric has a uniform dye similar to a pair of chinos. They’re comparable to Bonobos’ travel jeans.
Fit and Sizing: How Skinny do you want them?
Uniqlo’s denim comes in six fits:
- Stretch legging jeans
- Skinny fit
- Slim fit
- Regular fit
- Relaxed fit.
I first tried Uniqlo’s denim in the slim-straight fit, but they were skintight until I sized up at least 2 inches in the waist. When I sized up they were still very formfitting. Dappered’s readers may find it entertaining to know that I nearly got stuck in the first pair that I tried. Luckily, I was able to extricate myself through a high level tactical shimmyslide. The rise was low, they were tight through the hips, and had an aggressive taper. If you’re exceptionally slender, then they’re worth trying out. But a word of warning: There’s not a lot of room in the crotch for Fenton Hardy and The Boys.
UNIQLO’s Regular Fit denim. Slim but not tight through thigh. Slight taper.
I settled on the regular fit, which is actually slim fit with a very slight taper. My legs have a fair bit of definition from jogging and frequent exercise, but I’m far from what I’d consider brawny. The regular fit is formfitting in the bottom (Helloooooooo Nurse!), and close- fitting in the thighs with a bit more room in the calves. They’re slim without being skinny.
Moreover, and I can’t mention this enough, the regular fit makes my bottom a spectacular work of art, a breathtaking foray into asstranscendence, and a beacon of rumptitillation for all mankind. I don’t know what voodoo they’re working back there (lift and compress?), but I’m thankful.
The quality of Uniqlo’s denim is higher than the similarly priced offerings that I tested made by Levi’s, Gap, Banana Republic, and J.Crew’s regular line and is comparable to the two pairs of Bonobos premium denim that I own. This is significant as Uniqlo’s jeans cost roughly 1/3rd of the price of Bonobos’ denim. However, Uniqlo’s jeans are machine stitched in Bangladesh using Japanese fabric, whereas Bonobos jeans are machine stitched in Los Angeles using American fabric.
Is it worth paying a premium for handstitched (or machinestitched) premium denim? Does it matter if denim is 100% Made in America? I understand that denim has become a religion to some style connoisseurs, so I will not pass any value judgements in this review. Let all Dappered wearers of denim unite in harmony.
For me, the less expensive Uniqlo denim hits the sweet spot (that’s double entendre for you savvy readers) in terms of price, fit, and quality. Uniqlo’s regular fit jeans are $49.90 at the time of this review. At that price it’s fair to say that most will find their jeans as an affordable, solid quality option.
Many thanks to Elegans Concordia Photography for providing the photography.