9 Under-the-Radar Denim Brands You Need to Know (and Shop!)

9 Under-the-Radar Denim Brands You Need to Know (and Shop!)
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Isn’t it about time you invested in a new pair of jeans? Whether you’re aching to nab a pair of patched jeans or simply want to invest in some classic skinnies for fall, you never actually need a proper excuse to shop for denim.

However, it’s because denim is such a staple year-round that we often turn to the same old designers season after season. Snore. So we’re spotlighting nine totally awesome denim brands that we bet you haven’t heard of yet.

There’s the fresh new label from the designers behind Current Elliot, a brand that adds a modern spin to vintage jeans, and one label that you can shop for less than $100. So step inside—and start spending.

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Picture a denim brand that combines everything you love about Rag & Bone or Helmut Lang jeans—except all of your friends haven't discovered it yet. Now you have a clear picture of fresh label Talley. The brand's creator, Benjamin Talley Smith, designed denim for brands such as Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, and Helmut Lang before branching out solo. The label is online-only and has a focus on transparency in manufacturing, which means they send you updates every step of the way while your pair of jeans is being made.

Prices start at around the $300 mark, but as Smith explained to us, they're totally worth it: "Every jean is made in the USA and comes with a certificate of birth explaining when it was made, where, and more fun facts," he says. "All the jeans are produced in Los Angeles in one of my favorite factories. The actual technicians and sewers who made the first samples also make the customer orders. Everyone involved in the process really takes pride in the product from start to finish."

Photo: Talley

We're so used to parting with upwards of $200 for a good pair of jeans that we're conditioned to expect great denim to be expensive. But it really doesn't have to be, and DSLTD is proof of that. Their styles are modern and wearable and edited to a color palette of black, white, gray, and traditional blue. However, unlike many brands in this space, it forgoes the middleman (i.e. department stores) to offer luxe denim at about a third of the traditional price (usually around $100). That doesn't mean the label cuts corners though—DSLTD collections are actually manufactured in the same factories as the notable designer labels you shill out hundreds for. The company is also eco-centric and focuses on using sustainable materials, natural dyes, and eco-friendly techniques.

Photo: The Dashing Rider

At face value, RE/DONE puts a whopping $250 price tag on what are essentially a pair of used jeans—but the cost is worth every single penny. By updating cool vintage jeans—by, say, tapering the leg—the brand creates pieces that have a flattering, modern silhouette and all the charm you can only get from a pair of vintage threads. This also means everything is one-off, so no one will have the exact same pair as you. The brand also tells the history behind your jeans, like where they came from, during which era they were made, and which elements (like rips) were part of the original design or natural wear and tear.

"We aren’t just another denim brand making the same stretchy skinny jean as everyone else," said Jamie Mazur, the brand's cofounder (and Alessandra Ambrosio's husband!). "We are a movement to make heritage brands relevant, toward ethical fashion, and to restore individuality to the luxury fashion space."

Photo: Amfuku

A Brand 
A Brand is growing a reputation for its denim cutoffs and distressed jeans. Since launching in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013, the label has proven to be a huge hit with the blogger crowd.

Photo: A Brand

Our two favorite Olivias (that would be Wilde and Palermo) are fans of TROA, and we can totally understand why—its skinny jeans and boho flares are great. While hugely underrated (in our opinion, at least), this label isn't new. In fact, it started in 1966 in Seoul, South Korea, when founder Troa Cho began selling needles door-to-door and teaching herself to sew. Over time, she transformed her company into one of Seoul's most successful fashion brands, with a laser focus on producing great denim.

Photo: TROA

Bluer Denim
These skinny jeans come with the promise of lots of warm, fuzzy feelings. Not only are the washes and cuts super flattering, but the collection—which launched on Kickstarter in 2013—is made with a philanthropic mind-set. "We are 100 percent transparently made in the USA," founder Jeff Shafer told us. "We offer a 'buy one, give one' philanthropic incentive where we give customers cash for jeans traded in and then give them to people in need."

Photo: Bluer Denim

We'll admit that we're 100 percent obsessed with Baldwin's cropped, straight-leg jeans, but the brand's easy-fit sweaters and tees are worth a look as well. The brand was founded by Matt Baldwin in Kansas City, Kansas, and focuses on quality textiles and American manufacturing.

The Great
From the designers who brought you cult-hit denim label Current Elliot, we have The Great. Think playful, nostalgic denim (and other non-jean pieces) that refresh American classics. Designers Emily Current and Meritt Elliott explained their thinking behind the label: "With our denim collection for The Great, we were inspired by boyish, vintage, and sometimes slightly awkward silhouettes. We turn to old photographs of the Dust Bowl, the gold rush, and railroad workers as well as characters in children’s novels like Tom Sawyer and The Boxcar Children for inspiration. With The Great, unlike with our past experiences designing denim, we are able to give context to the denim by it living within a larger multicategory collection."

Photo: The Great

Tortoise Jeans
This L.A.-based brand has to be among the most eco-conscious in the industry. Not only does it recycle every bit of water used to wash the jeans, but it also creates the collections locally—and that's definitely an ethos we can get behind. Oh, and did you see that killer pair of patched jeans? Get shopping—Tortoise Jeans has stockists all over the country.

Photo: Tortoise Denim

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