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Rag & Bone, photo by Brian Harkin
Rag & Bone, photo by Brian Harkin

From Cheap to Boutique: Where to Buy Denim in NYC

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Rag & Bone, photo by Brian Harkin

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Jeans are as personal as love, family, and dietary preferences. The rise, the inseam, the wash, the details, the leg opening, the ratio of cotton to stretch: it's honestly a miracle that these things are sold ready to wear. Actually, in our city of neverending possibilities you can get bespoke denim—just head to 3x1 for that. But for off-the-rack, where to start?

After considering the department store denim bar bounty, studying the small run American-made offerings, and polling our I-don't-believe-in-jeans-that-cost-more-than-$50 friends, we've narrowed down New York City's denim choices to nine shops. Click through for a map of our picks—we've even included stores' tailoring options and rates, where available, to ensure the perfect fit.


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The Japanese megabrand's most monsterous store offers the best selection of their inexpensive denim. At under $40 a pop, the jeans—available for men and women—come in standard washes as well as seasonal hues and prints. Complimentary on-site hemming makes this a standout for budget-friendly blues.

Madewell

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J. Crew's little sister store is heavy on the denim. The house line offers a range of fits from skinny high risers to slouchy "boyjeans" at around $100 a pop. They also offer BlankNYC, which retails closer to $85, and a few boutique brands that can reach up to $350 for all those hand-finished details. Denim and chambray shirts, skirts, and dresses can regularly be found, often with a polka dotted accent in the mix.

Rag & Bone

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The brand has a handful of outposts in the city, but this location has the best dedicated denim space. Both men's and women's styles are available, with an even mix of on-trend offerings—like punched leather details or pixilated camo prints—and old standbys. The /Jean space flows seamlessly to rooms carrying shoes and ready to wear, so you can pick up a blazer or a bootie to go with your new skinnies. Hemming is done in-house and is complimentary.

Civilianaire

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A relative newcomer to the city, the brand hails from LA, where all of their product is made. There's more available here for men than for women, and the selection is overarchingly to the point: not a lot of frills. For guys, 100% cotton Japanese jeans run around $230 per pair. Women's denim costs about the same and comes slim with a bit of stretch.

Barneys CO-OP

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The lower level reveals a denim hideaway, with a mix of of-the-moment styles and reliable fits. Harder to find brands like Genetic and Mother are displayed on tables while more established brands like Current/Elliott and JBrand are organized on a wall that is divided by rise, making this a great choice for someone who prefers high or mid and can never find them among the low-slung styles.
The back of the shop houses the permanent collection which includes the cult-status denim. Styles are unisex, mostly raw denim, and err on the straight-leg side. Pre-broken in pairs are also available: when a customer has worn their A.P.C.'s in, they can bring them back to the shop, the store sends them out to be repaired, and resells them, so you can get the authentically broken-in look without any of the time expense. Hemming services cost $15 and have a turn around of 7—10 business days.

Raleigh

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Small batch, limited edition jeans for men and women made in the good ol' U.S. of A (Raleigh, North Carolina, to be precise). The inside pocket is signed and the leather patch is hand stamped with a unique number on each of the vintage machine-sewn jeans. Expect to pay in the mid-$200's for the Americana blues. Hemming and tailoring are available on-site.

Self Edge

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We can't argue with this mission statement: "We are a sanctuary for those that dream of rainbow selvedge and obsess over patina." For raw denim devotionals, this is the spot. They carry a mix of brands in addition to a house line. Chainstitched hemming is complimentary for jeans bought in the store, or $25 on previously worn pairs, and takes two to five days. Repairs are a flat $20 for Self Edge-purchased jeans—$40 if you got them elsewhere—and completed in about a week.
Your best bet for a custom fit. They offer three levels of service: level one lets you choose a pair off the rack (they only make ten to 24 of each style!) and customize buttons and rivets; level two is a custom pair based on one of their patterns but with your choice of fabric, details, and of course tailored to fit (starts at $525); and level three is fully bespoke, where a custom pattern is made based on your measurements and you select all design details.

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UNIQLO

The Japanese megabrand's most monsterous store offers the best selection of their inexpensive denim. At under $40 a pop, the jeans—available for men and women—come in standard washes as well as seasonal hues and prints. Complimentary on-site hemming makes this a standout for budget-friendly blues.

Madewell

J. Crew's little sister store is heavy on the denim. The house line offers a range of fits from skinny high risers to slouchy "boyjeans" at around $100 a pop. They also offer BlankNYC, which retails closer to $85, and a few boutique brands that can reach up to $350 for all those hand-finished details. Denim and chambray shirts, skirts, and dresses can regularly be found, often with a polka dotted accent in the mix.

Rag & Bone

The brand has a handful of outposts in the city, but this location has the best dedicated denim space. Both men's and women's styles are available, with an even mix of on-trend offerings—like punched leather details or pixilated camo prints—and old standbys. The /Jean space flows seamlessly to rooms carrying shoes and ready to wear, so you can pick up a blazer or a bootie to go with your new skinnies. Hemming is done in-house and is complimentary.

Civilianaire

A relative newcomer to the city, the brand hails from LA, where all of their product is made. There's more available here for men than for women, and the selection is overarchingly to the point: not a lot of frills. For guys, 100% cotton Japanese jeans run around $230 per pair. Women's denim costs about the same and comes slim with a bit of stretch.

Barneys CO-OP

The lower level reveals a denim hideaway, with a mix of of-the-moment styles and reliable fits. Harder to find brands like Genetic and Mother are displayed on tables while more established brands like Current/Elliott and JBrand are organized on a wall that is divided by rise, making this a great choice for someone who prefers high or mid and can never find them among the low-slung styles.

A.P.C.

The back of the shop houses the permanent collection which includes the cult-status denim. Styles are unisex, mostly raw denim, and err on the straight-leg side. Pre-broken in pairs are also available: when a customer has worn their A.P.C.'s in, they can bring them back to the shop, the store sends them out to be repaired, and resells them, so you can get the authentically broken-in look without any of the time expense. Hemming services cost $15 and have a turn around of 7—10 business days.

Raleigh

Small batch, limited edition jeans for men and women made in the good ol' U.S. of A (Raleigh, North Carolina, to be precise). The inside pocket is signed and the leather patch is hand stamped with a unique number on each of the vintage machine-sewn jeans. Expect to pay in the mid-$200's for the Americana blues. Hemming and tailoring are available on-site.

Self Edge

We can't argue with this mission statement: "We are a sanctuary for those that dream of rainbow selvedge and obsess over patina." For raw denim devotionals, this is the spot. They carry a mix of brands in addition to a house line. Chainstitched hemming is complimentary for jeans bought in the store, or $25 on previously worn pairs, and takes two to five days. Repairs are a flat $20 for Self Edge-purchased jeans—$40 if you got them elsewhere—and completed in about a week.

3x1

Your best bet for a custom fit. They offer three levels of service: level one lets you choose a pair off the rack (they only make ten to 24 of each style!) and customize buttons and rivets; level two is a custom pair based on one of their patterns but with your choice of fabric, details, and of course tailored to fit (starts at $525); and level three is fully bespoke, where a custom pattern is made based on your measurements and you select all design details.