One of the questions I see most often online about raw denim is “I want to buy a pair, but my budget is tight. What would you recommend?” The most common answer I see is “Unbranded.”
|This closeup on the coin pocket shows inconsistent stitching:
The other rivet is not stitched onto the primary jean layer in the same way.
Hidden copper-rivets reinforce hind pockets, alongside stitch-reinforcement. I haven’t seen the frontside of these rivets yet, but the backsides are slightly different from the exposed rivets on the front: They have an external circle on the underside that is lacking on the exposed rivets. This may mean that the rivets are different, or that the craftsmanship is inconsistent.
|Shoddy stitching like this one is common at ends.|
A close inspection of the denim on arrival shows nearly every stitch is coming loose at the ends. The triple-chainstitch of the waist ends about an inch before the waist-button on bot sides, the denim appears to be fraying near the buttons and the belt-loops. and back pockets. I suspect this is because the stitches are entirely machined without the capability to knot the ends, or requirements for workers to make quotas may prevent them from performing small steps like this.
|The outseam has a nice two-color stitch: Dark gold and navy.|
The outseam of the legs has a nicely executed doublechainstitch, one dark-gold, the other a shade just off of the blue of the denim. The hemline is a solid chain-stitch, with the trim along the inseam coming loose at the ends. Belt-loops are secured with simple stitch reinforcement that is somewhat inconsistently placed: On one beltloop, it is perfectly centered on the uppermost waist-chainstich. On the next, it is uneven and slightly sloped against it. The next is slightly below the chainstitch, and the next two are centered again. These inconsistencies do not appear intentional, they seem to be mild manufacturing defects. I have not noticed this sort of inconsistency on more expensive pairs before.
You can wear Unbranded and get wonderful results, but the overall craftsmanship is not the same as a more expensive pair of jeans. I generally agree with my brother: If you want a pair of high quality denim, you generally should expect to spend at least $200. But for about the same price as Unbranded, GUSTIN is currently offering pre-orders through Kickstarter of a much better constructed, lighter weight pair. At the time of this posting, orders are being accepted for a 12.5 ounce japanese selvage. While their fit offerings are currently limited to a straight-leg cut similar to the UB 301, their plans to expand is sure to give Unbranded a run for their money long term. Shipments are not expected to happen until March or April, but in my opinion it is well worth the wait. Waiting for similarly priced different cuts, however, may not be worth it: there is no telling how long the wait will be, nor is there a certainty that more fits will come. TL:DR: If you are considering the UB 301, I think you are better off with GUSTIN. If you want the UB 101 or UB 201, go ahead.
|While the overall quality of Unbranded may not be very good, one thing is certain about them: They fade fast, and results can be beautiful! These early honeycombs took only two months to form.|
All in All
Unbranded is a mixed bag. They currently dominate the under-$100 pricepoint of Raw Denim, and for good reason: They are readily available, fade fast and often beautifully. But they also showcase mediocre craftsmanship. For a similar price, I like GUSTIN‘s offerings more: Though limited to one cut similar to the UB301, they have a variety of denim weights and sources to choose from, and are assembled in San Francisco versus Unbranded’s factory in Macau. But I may be biased, as I have had interactions with the guys behind GUSTIN.
Below are some Fit-Pics. I plan to wear them once every two weeks in the future: on apartment cleaning day.
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