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Batter’s Box: 5 Pairs at the Top of the Full Count Order

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April 7, 2022

I tend to be drawn towards brands that throw fastballs right over the centre of the plate. No sinkers, screwballs, or knuckleballs—just the straight heat. When the denim is great and the construction is solid, this is all you need. Lob that classic pair right down the centre at…


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Five Steps for a Positive Indigo Invitational Experience

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April 3, 2022

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Who knew Andy Williams was actually singing about the Indigo Invitational? Not buying it? I knew it’d be a tough sell. Moving on.
We are just one week out from the start of the third installment of the Indigo Invitational, and…


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Tour De NYC: The Indigo Invitational in the Big Apple

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March 23, 2022

New York has long been on my list as a destination. Not only does the city boast some of the world's best galleries and museums, it also has a thriving denim scene. I live in Budapest, where selvedge and well-made workwear are as rare as hen's teeth, so when I touched down in New York, I was excited to be among my people, surrounded by shops that cater to my niche interests.

[caption id="attachment_1074" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Photo by Everyday Aperture[/caption]

I wasn't disappointed. I spent the vast majority of my week in Manhattan, and I saw cuffed and faded selvedge just about everywhere I looked. It wasn't hard to pinpoint the reasons why. Not only are New Yorkers a stylish bunch, they've also got access to some of the world's best stockists. Most of these are within a few blocks of each other, at the southern end of Manhattan in Soho, making it possible to visit all of them in a single day.

When I was still groggy with the jet lag, I set out on a cold and blustery morning to visit four selvedge-specialty shops: Blue in Green, Self Edge, Standard & Strange, and the Naked & Famous flagship store. I received a warm welcome at each shop, and I can't tell you how nice it was to sit and talk denim with the knowledgable and passionate staff at each location. I've grown so used to talking about and shopping for denim online that it was intensely refreshing to discuss denim in the offline world. What's more, I could handle the products and try on pieces by some of my favourite makers—many of which I've learned to love without ever seeing up close. 

I asked the staff at each shop to recommend and model three pairs for Year Three competitors looking for a last-minute pair. Here are their recommendations.

Blue in Green

It is fitting that this spacious shop spread over two rooms (with a coffee bar separating them) is named after a Miles Davis song. I'm a bit of an audiophile, so how this place sounds was one of the first things I noticed. In the front room, they were playing soothing electronica on some nice equipment, but I could hear vintage soul seeping out from the back room. I headed to the back to investigate and found a massive set of Altec Lansing Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers flanking a set of fridge-sized JBLs. They were powered by an equally impressive McInsosh amplifier, which looked powerful enough to light up a city block.

All of this suggests a great deal about the founder's passion for quality and niche goods. Blue in Green have made their name by stocking hard-to-find labels and distinctive garments, with an emphasis on the more cutting edge designers in the Japanese and well-made space. They not only had the best-sounding shop I've ever been in, they also had more Kapital pieces under one roof than I've seen since visiting the Kapital shop in Tokyo. I saw the brand's smiley-face logo all over Manhattan, so it looks like the Japanese design house is having something of a moment in the sun in NYC.

Garvey Malawa was my guide for the day, and his first recommendation was a pair from Kapital. The No. 4 Plant Dye Monkey Cisco Denim. The distinct green denim is a mixture of plant dye and indigo, and Garvey and I agreed that this pair would be a great choice for those who want to start standing out from the crowd on day one.

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For another show-stopper, Garvey also recommended a Blue in Green x Pure Blue Japan 15-year-anniversary collaboration with a natural indigo warp and a vivid purple weft. The BIG-PBJ-013 is a 17.5oz and heavily textured denim in the brand's signature slim tapered cut. The purple really pushes through to the surface, so this is a loud pair that you'll want to approach with caution unless you're a lilac lover.

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If you're looking for something a little more conservative, Garvey's last recommendation is right down Main Street. Oni's Secret Denim is one of our favourite fabrics, and we're always thrilled to see faders bring it to the competition. Garvey modelled the 246ZR, which is Oni's modern straight fit, and it took every ounce of discipline I have not to walk out with a pair for my collection. The beige weft and the loose weave produce beautiful dusty-hued fades, and pair start to feel like sweat pants around the 250-wear mark. A great recommendation.

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Self Edge

While the San Francisco Self Edge location is the true Mecca of the American selvedge scene, the New York branch has all the hallmarks of an unmissable denim shop. The shop is small, but every nook and cranny is filled to bursting with top-shelf pairs, leather jackets, flannels, and denim-adjacent goodies. What you see is only a portion of what they have. There's a trap door by the desk leading to their stockroom, which is crammed full of incredible pieces from the likes of Iron Heart, Flat Head, and 3sixteen, just to name a few.

Sean and Zane really sunk their teeth into my request for recommendations. It seemed almost impossible to narrow it down. The Strike Golds and Samurai x Old Blue collaboration held on for dear life, but we ended up cutting them in favour of some classic made-to-fade jeans that might not be on your radar.

First up is the 3sixteen CS100XK. This 14oz indigo selvedge was custom woven for 3sixteen by Kuroki Mills, and, while it doesn't trumpet its virtues from the rooftops, it is stunning up close. At this weight, you'll be comfortable all summer long, and you'll be knocking on denim heaven's door by the end of the year. It was the first pair on their list, and, when I handed it, it was easy to see why it was the easiest pick they made.

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Next, Sean and Zane went with an unsung hero—the Stevenson 220 Carmel. The denim itself is fairly straightforward. It's a 14oz sanforized indigo x natural denim, and the cut is equally unfussy. It's a simple tapered straight with a medium rise. Where things get really interesting is the needle work around the pockets. These are the kind of details that really stand out in a packed field, so it's a great choice for faders who want to get noticed.

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Last at bat is the Sugar Cane 1947, another quietly brilliant pair that rose to the top simply because Zane was wearing a much-loved pair of Sugar Cane AWA-AI when I walked in the door. The 1947s are a meticulous reproduction of 1947 501s, right down to the period-correct 14.25oz red-line selvedge. For vintage faders, this will tick all your boxes. It's not a brand we see a lot of in the competition, and we'd sure love to see what a dedicated fader could do to a pair of these.

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Naked & Famous

The Naked & Famous flagship shop in Soho was pretty well exactly how I imaged it would be. The first thing you notice when you come in is the world-famous N&F denim wall, which has appeared in our feed more than once over the years. Spreading out from there, everything is crisp and clean. The shop has all the hallmarks of a carefully designed fashion boutique, with everything given space to shine and no piles of denim threatening to topple over. To see nearly the entire range of what N&F produces is staggering. They truly do something for just about everybody—all the way from stretchy and ultra-light denim hanging patiently on the rack all the way to their literally top-shelf hand-dyed MIJ8 packaged in a pine box, waiting patiently for that deep-pocketed enthusiast.

After talking for a while about the competition with Zeke, Daniel, and Shane, we got to work trying to narrow the N&F range down for competitors. Let's start with the real stand-out in the bunch—the King of Lords. The multiplication of slub and nep has created a denim that wins the texture game outright. Naked & Famous always push to be the first into a category, and if they can't be first, they'll settle for being the most-est. They've done that with this pair, which should feel like pyjamas after a four or five months.

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Next up, we went with something that we were all curious about. The Matrix Free Will pair is definitely not for everybody, but if you are ever torn between wearing denim or leather pants, this pair should at least capture your attention. It'll take a brave soul to commit to wearing the Free Wills for a full year, but we think the selvedge-loving community will give you a standing ovation after 365 days just for showing us what this pair of faux-leather coated selvedge looks like when it's been thoroughly used and abused.

Finally, we close our N&F recommendations with a pair we know we'll see a ton of this year, the Elephant XS. Year after year, the Elephants have been one of our most dependable competition pairs, and this year, the denim scientists over at Naked & Famous have thrown a touch of stretch into their popular heavyweights. It's a bold choice considering the fact that so many of those who reach for the heaviest pairs have sworn off elastane forever, but the N&F guys say that few who try on the denim are entirely won over. If you're not flexible on stretch, they're still very well stocked in the 100% cotton Elephant X.

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Standard & Strange

[caption id="attachment_1083" align="aligncenter" width="980"] Photo from Gear Patrol[/caption]

If you're a regular reader, you know that we always save our favourites for last. In a 10-block circle absolutely crammed full of world-beating denim stockists, Standard & Strange has that little extra wow factor that puts them in their own category. The Real McCoy's pieces had me slobbering all over my boots, and I finally got a chance to try on Freenote's RJ-2, which might be the world's best lined denim jacket (with the price tag to match). What really puts Standard & Strange over the top, though, is their boot wall. Viberg, Lofgren, and Wesco, oh my!

Patrick Gessner is in charge of the S&S footwear department. If that name sounds familiar, that might be because he produced some beautiful fades on a pair of Oni 622ZR in last year's competition. He was beyond keen to make a few recommendations for the community. He and co-worker Neil Berrett put their heads together and, after some intense deliberations, they settled on three pairs.

First on the list comes from a brand that needs no introduction: Real McCoy's. Their Lot 001XX jeans are the brand's standard bearer, and vintage faders will be hard pressed to find a better pair. The 14.5oz denim has been painstakingly engineered to fade exactly like 1950s Cone Mills denim, and the cut is classic in every way. A brilliant recommendation, and a pair that no collection is complete without.

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Next up is a pair from one of our favourite American brands, Freenote. The 17oz Wilkes Western is the brand's black x black take on the classic cowboy jean. It's a modern tapered fit, but with the taper dialled down slightly so the jeans will slide nicely over a pair of slip-on boots. The zipper fly might be a sticking point for some of you, but it wouldn't be a proper cowboy jean without that feature. Will be a great choice for boot-rockers out there who want a top-shelf fade-to-grey pair. 

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Finally, they've recommended one of our favourite collaborations of the year—the Samurai x Old Blue showdown. Like the Wilkes, there's more than a touch of the old west to this pair. Old Blue has clearly taken the lead on the finishing details, but the fit is essentially a Samurai 710, which straddles the line between the slim straight and the modern tapered cut. With this 21oz unsanforized denim, you can expect fast fades and stunning contrasts, and the blend of Supina and Egyptian cotton means these jeans will be butter soft by the end of the competition. We wholeheartedly endorse this recommendation.

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Goodbye to Gotham

I want to thank the amazing staff at all the stores I visited while I was in NYC. They all made me feel incredibly welcome, and they all gave me hours of their time. If they grew weary of my company and my questions, they never showed it. They really gave me far more than I asked or expected of them, and they made the weekend one I will not soon forget.

New York is bursting at the seams with incredible denim shops. In between museum and gallery visits, I also stopped in at the RRL store (gorgeous but overpriced) and trekked out to Brooklyn to meet Merica Lee, whose Raw Indigo Sailor Jeans were good enough to convince my wife to leave the world of stretch denim behind (perhaps for good). Everywhere I looked, denim was worn and worn well, and the people selling it were salt-of-the-earth denimheads with not a trace of snobbery. It was hard for me to leave the city that never sleeps. It's a denim lover's paradise, and I can't wait to come back for a second visit.


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Big in Japan: Big John Rare 009 Review

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March 20, 2022

When Dave and I started this competition, neither of us had an encyclopedic knowledge of denim brands. Each day at the helm of this competition exposes us to something new. Often, the product itself is new—usually some incredible new collaboration or an up-and-coming brand from Europe, North America, or…


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Cuts Like a Katana: Comparing Samurai’s Standard Fits

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March 14, 2022

A favourite brand for those seeking fast-fading heavyweights, Samurai Jeans boast some of the hardest and heaviest raws around. Fade lovers can choose Samurai denims confidently, but, if your experience has been anything like mine, the model numbers can be a little confusing. What do these three- and four-digit…


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Leaving the Nest: Realign RLGN-R Review

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February 22, 2022

It’s a familiar story. In March of 2014, Robin Meijerink (aka Robin Denim) fell head over cuffs in love with raw denim. A friend dragged him to a local shop (Tenue de Nîmes) in Amsterdam. The young student’s curiosity was piqued, and he slapped his plastic on the counter,…


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Diamonds in the Raw: Crate-Digging with Iron Heart

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February 8, 2022

Iron Heart pairs continue to be stellar performers for our competitors. They dominated the podium last year, taking the gold medal for the first time (unseating Y1 champ Samurai Jeans) and repeating as bronze medalists. For faders who expect to take their jeans there and back again, Iron Heart…


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Worth the Weight: SOSO 33oz Breaker of Legs Review

on
January 12, 2022

In 2019, with just weeks to go before the start Year One of the Indigo Invitational, SOSO dropped something absolutely massive on the denim scene. It was, at that time, the heaviest denim in the world, and, until Naked & Famous release their 40oz denim, SOSO holds the crown and sceptre. I've long been curious about the denim, so I ordered a pair and asked Johan and Jannis to tell me a little about the pair's origin story.

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It all started with a chance encounter in the hallways of a Thai university. Jannis and Johan were both studying marketing at the University of Bangkok. They started talking, and it turned out they were both from Stockholm. They quickly became fast friends, and, over beers, they talked about doing something more productive with their time than drinking in the local tavern. They were both deeply passionate about denim, so they decided on a lark to start a denim brand.

They asked around until they found somebody who could put them in touch with a denim importer, who showed them samples of some of his denims—including some raw offerings. It was an eye-opening moment for the two Swedes. They knew they wanted to do something with the fabric, but neither of them had any tailoring experience, so they started looking at local sewing factories. The first two were a bust, but the third one showed promise.

[caption id="attachment_798" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Johan (left) and Jannis (right)[/caption]

Their first pairs were less than satisfactory, but Johan and Jannis were convinced the Thai tailors could build better if given a better blueprint. The third SOSO Brother, Fredrik, had been working in a Stockholm denim shop for years. He knew the hallmarks of quality construction, so he was able to help his partners provide more precise instructions. They worked every cut, stitch, and sundry, making small changes with each iteration. 

In 2012, they finally had something they could confidently stamp their name on. They launched the brand with a narrow range of cuts but a wide range of sizes. The jeans in the middle of the size range sold quickly, but the SOSO Brothers were left with a stack of unsold pairs in the smaller and larger sizes.

They quickly decided to transform SOSO into a custom brand. This would help them reduce waste, while also helping them solve one of the common issues that raw denim customers have: standardized inseams. The SOSO Brothers were convinced that the option to customize inseam measurements would help set them apart from other brands in the space. 

When they re-launched as a custom raw denim brand, they were swamped with orders from denimheads all over the world. As happy as they were with this success, it was a double-edged sword. The new customers were enthusiastic about the ability to customize their raw denim, but they were an exacting bunch. They gave a lot, but they asked for a lot in return. This forced the brand to mature quickly by responding to concerns and critiques on the fly.

SOSO's ongoing process of improvement, and particularly how they respond to customer issues, has been like catnip for denimheads looking for a brand with a human rather than a corporate face. It's a very special feeling when you see a reasonable suggestion for product improvement implemented. It feels like they're plugged into not only their customers but also the broader denim-loving community. They're listening and learning, and they show this by taking three big steps forward whenever they take one step back.

They've chosen a difficult path, and, through a combination of persistence and adaptability, they've made leaps and bounds in the past few years, and they're far from finished. They've got some big changes coming down the pipe focused on how and where they source their denim and assemble the finished product. These changes, like so much else they do, are a direct response to what their customers have asked for. They're listening and learning. Like a great pair of heavy selvedge, they're just getting better with age.

The Birth of a Leg-Breaker

When SOSO was still a very young brand, Johan and Jannis met Brandon Svarc, Founder of Naked & Famous, in Bangkok. He showed them a pair of the brand new Naked & Famous 32oz superheavyweights, and the SOSO Brothers were blown away. It opened their eyes to how far modern engineering could push selvedge denim. They wanted to see if they could push the limits even further.

[caption id="attachment_703" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] The Spark: Naked & Famous 32oz Denim - Now Extinct[/caption]

They started asking denim mills to help them produce the heaviest denim in the world. Their first attempts broke the looms. It took the mill two months to produce enough yardage to make the first pairs, and the problems didn't stop when the denim rolled off the looms. The heavy denim broke the sturdiest sewing machines they had in the workshop. They kept at it, repairing the Jukis, Brothers, and Union Specials as they went, determined both to break the record and to break it with a wearable and durable pair. 

[caption id="attachment_704" align="aligncenter" width="1045"] The First Generation of SOSO's 33oz Breaker of Legs (the pockets are now considerably smaller)[/caption]

With each new iteration, they've improved. They worked with their first 33oz customers to address the problems they had, repairing or resizing as necessary. Sometimes, this meant making adjustments at their shop in Umea, Sweden, but they also encouraged customers to seek more local solutions—picking up the tab for these repairs whenever tailors have been willing to feed the needle-breaking denim into their machines.

They've noticed a dramatic drop-off in problems since they introduced the latest version of the Breaker of Legs in 2021. They've adjusted the patterns to make it easier for the tailors to get the sizing on the nose, and they've tweaked the construction, using heavy-duty Coats Dual Duty poly-core threads to make them more durable in the areas where they were prone to breakage. This thread change has been, they say, a "game changer".

They've also started to use long-staple, family-farmed Australian cotton. The move away from the Xinjiang cotton they used for their first 33oz pairs to the ethically sourced cotton they're using now is an important step for the brand. The community was quick to point out that the deeply problematic Chinese cotton was a deal-breaker for many, so SOSO corrected course, locating a cotton farm more in line with their (and their customers') values.

The cotton is first ring spun and then rope-dyed. It is dipped in a synthetic indigo bath 8 times, which is higher than average, but lower than some of the more deeply indigo-saturated denims out there. Every step in the process has been engineered with fades front of mind. The denim is extremely stiff, and the SOSO brothers know that it takes a brave soul to challenge this pair. They want to reward that bravery with thick combs, whiskers, and stacks. They might come slowly, but when they do finally come, they are utterly brilliant.  

The denim is woven in China on vintage GA1515 shuttle looms (China's oldest selvedge looms). It's a 3x1 twill that uses 5-gauge yarns (the same kind of yarns that you might find in heavy rugs). The the mill has twisted three of the heavy-duty yarns together to form the warp and two of them together to form the weft.

What this means is that the dark warp yarns absolutely dominate the surface of the jeans. A flash of white pokes through here and there, but the white yarns all but entirely disappear when you hold the pair at arm's length. There is definitely texture here, but it is in the hand, not the eye.

The SOSO Brothers say that the Breaker of Legs remain a work in progress, but, with hundreds of finished pairs behind them, the hardest work is in their rearview mirror. The three latest 33oz denims (the classic indigo x white, the double black, and the double indigo) feel in every way like a fully mature product. The tweaks they've made to the construction seem to have paid off in a big way. The pair feels bulletproof, and, based on my examination, it doesn't look like there are any weak spots. They're braced and squared away. Give them both barrels.

Breaking Down the Numbers

Thanks to their vanity sizing, if you jump into a pair of SOSOs blind, you'll probably be throwing good money (and denim) away. I'm usually in the range of a 33/34, but with SOSO, I'm a 32 with a little room to spare.

 

SOSO 33oz Pre-Soak Measurements

With Variation from Advertised Measurements

Size 32 x 35
Waist 89 (+1) / 35 inches
Front Rise 30.5 / 12 inches
Back Rise 39.5 / 15.5 inches
Upper Thigh 29.5 (-1) / 11.5 inches
Knee 21.5 / 8.5 inches
Opening 20 / 8 inches
Inseam 89 / 35 inches

Some have reported issues with sizing variation, but it looks as though the SOSO boys have, together with their Thai tailors, worked the sizing bugs out of the system. There were small and acceptable variations on the thigh and in the waist, but they were otherwise perfect down the line.

Before soaking, the fit is generous through the thighs. There's enough denim for a solid two inches of cuff. The denim creases a little below the knees, so I may adjust the cuffs after soak to pull a little bit more of that excess denim towards the break.

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As you can see, the pre-soak fit is ample in the top block. I can easily slide my hand into the waistband without much trouble. 

I soaked the pair for 30 minutes or so in a hot bath, then hung them to dry next to a radiator and waited until they were bone dry to measure them and put the VERY stiff denim back on. Let's see how much they snugged up.

 

SOSO 33oz Post-Soak Measurements

With Variation from Pre-Soak Measurements

Size 32 x 35
Waist 88 (-1) / 34.5 inches
Front Rise 29 (-1.5)  / 11.5 inches
Back Rise 38.5 (-1) / 15 inches
Upper Thigh 28.5 (-1) / 11 inches
Knee 21.5 / 8.5 inches
Opening 20 / 8 inches
Inseam 87 (-2) / 34.5 inches

The soak resulted in a much better fit in the top block. I'm back to the usual hole on my belt, and there's no more gaping around the waistline. The 30 minutes in the bath didn't seem to soften the denim, though the yellowish blue ring they left in the tub after I pulled the plug suggests that the soak pulled a considerable amount of both starch and indigo out of the fabric.

After the soak, what I'm left with is a pair with zero fit issues. They are a far cry from comfortable, but the rigidity of the denim is manageable when the pair fit in much the same way as you expect selvedge north of 20oz to fit. I'm fighting a battle on one front, taking on the denim with my knife between my teeth. Rather than being an enemy, the comfortable fit is an ally in this fight.

The battle is fiercest at two points: where the thighs meet the top block and behind the knees. You can almost forget that you're wearing double-thickness trousers until you go to climb a flight of stairs. It's then that you really feel as though you're slogging in the trenches with mud up to your waist. I find myself a little out of breath every time I climb the stairs.

I've also got battle scars on my thumbs. After the first week, they were calloused and numb from fiddling with the buttons. Getting them buttoned the first time took about 25 minutes of sweaty labour. The second time wasn't much better. 

[caption id="attachment_712" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Thumbs v. Buttons Battlefield[/caption]

Word to the wise: do this pair up before you put them on, and soak them with the buttons fastened. Use a sturdy tool (I used a screwdriver) to get in there and stretch out the button holes. It'll take a bit of work, but don't give up. They will fasten. Your thumbs will be sore for the first week or so, but it'll get a little easier every time you button them. If you'd rather skip all this struggle, just go with the zip fly. 

The look of the denim makes all this struggle worthwhile. There's no mistaking this pair for a typical pair of jeans. They're heavy, and they're proud of it. I found people double-taking on the street, and friends have commented on and complimented me on them every time I've worn them out.

Simply put, the Breaker of Legs get noticed. They don't wait quietly in the wings. They rush the stage and hog the spotlight like Kanye at an awards show.

 

The Details: Speak Softly But Carry a Big Stick

SOSO gives the customer almost complete freedom to design the pair they've always wanted to wear. This is a big draw card for those who want to break out of the conservative denim mould, and we encourage you to experiment with some (but not all) of their custom options with this pair.

Keep in mind that, with this 33oz denim, you're already butting up against that too-much-of-a-good-thing line. Loud details will be (as my Norwegian wife says) like butter on fat. The denim is such a loud statement on its own that there's just no need to turn the details up to 11.

I chose khaki for the thread colour. The subtle contrast highlights the jeans' design, particularly the large front placket, but it doesn't compete for attention with the denim itself.

Dave, who went with the double indigo, went even more conservative, opting for blue threads that nearly disappear into the denim.

These are by no means the only thread colours that will work, but our advice is to lean heavily towards the conservative side. This denim is as serious as a sonata. There's no need to spice it up with a funky bass-line.

This goes for the pockets as well. SOSO offers a number of different options for arcuates. The western-style arcuates might be a good choice if you are head over heels for that looping boot-stitch, but this denim is a fire-belching, motorcycle-riding hellcat. Western details might be an uneasy fit with the denim's high-octane character. The row of three straight lines is probably the best choice if you really want to add arcuates of some kind, but for our money, the best option is none of them.

 

We're big fans of the heavy 4mm veg-tan patch, which went into the bath without any kind of protection and emerged unscathed. I applied a dab of Red Wing leather conditioner to it once it was dry, and the patch absolutely ate it up. Condition it after each wash and you'll help nudge that beautiful veg-tan patina along. SOSO's first pairs of Breakers came with the patches stitched all the way around, but now they offer pass through as an option—absolutely essential, we think, when the patch is as heavy as this one.

The belt loops leave enough room for a 2.5-inch belt. They're bigger, I think, than they need to be. I can wedge three fingers in there along with my PTC belt. It would be nice to see them offer an option of smaller loops that are a better fit with standard 1.5-inch belts.

The antique copper YKK buttons and rivets seems tough enough to do the job. I've been extremely rough on the buttons, doing my best to make them a little easier to fasten. I pull down hard on the placket to pull the pants open, and, so far at least, none of the buttons have failed. I performed a brief stress test on the rivets, pulling at the major stress points on the pockets. They're not budging.

Thanks to layer upon layer of this extremely heavy denim, the front placket feels like a codpiece. On a pair of five-pocket jeans, the placket always sits slightly to the left of centre, but it's easy to miss this design detail. When the denim is this heavy, that slight tilt becomes a pronounced lean. It's exactly where it should be, but it might feel like it's off centre until you get used to it.

As expected, the inseams are overlocked (a flat-felled seam with denim of this weight would be impractical and uncomfortable). The stitching is clean and tight throughout, which is impressive considering how thick the denim is when it is folded. The tailors have clearly been instructed to beef up the stitching in the crotch, and it definitely doesn't look or feel like an Achilles heel for the pair.

They've added a nice touch along the waistband. The double layer of denim is finished with a touch of black chambray. The thought of an edge of this cardboard-like denim rubbing against my backside all day sends shudders down my spine, so I'm grateful for the soft touch. 

 

The pocket bags are sturdy and handsome. Dave went with the camo pocket bags, but I went with the printed design featuring the three mascots. There's Lennox the Kangaroo (representing the Australian cotton), Ryder the Moose (a nod to SOSO's Swedish base of operations), and Maddox the Elephant (representing the Thai tailors). It's a sharp design, leading to one of the better-looking pocket bags I've seen out there.

If you carry keys or a phone in your front pocket, the pocket bags will probably be the first thing to go, but this doesn't mean they're a weak point for the jeans. They won't break down prematurely, but, if you're patient enough to fade this pair to perfection, you can expect to replace or repair the pocket bags at some point down the long line.

The Fades: What to Expect from 365 Days in 33oz Denim

One of our Y1 competitors, Todd Hallowell, got his hands on just the sixth 33oz pair that SOSO produced. The first five were all test pairs for the SOSO team, so Todd was the first customer to take a run at them. He essentially volunteered to be the brand's crash-test dummy for the 365 days of the competition.

[gallery link="file" columns="2" size="full" bottomspace="five" ids="794,795"]

This was before SOSO had made the change to ultra-durable polypore threads, and Todd noticed early on that the stitching at the crotch was going to be a weak point. He wanted to make sure that his pair made it for the full 365, so rather than waiting for the thread to give way and leave him swinging in the breeze, he reinforced his pair by hand, securing not only the crotch seam but also all the major seams with the kind of thread normally used for boot stitching.

This meant that there was nothing that would tear his pair apart, so we got to spend the rest of the competition watching him put the 33oz denim through its paces.

At the four-month mark, Todd washed his Leg Breakers for the first time. The progress up to that point had been slow, but the first wash was a game changer.

[gallery link="file" columns="2" size="full" bottomspace="five" ids="787,788"]

Eight months into the competition, the weave had relaxed considerably, and the jeans were no longer blue-black. They were now a vivid shade of indigo. with thick honeycombs behind the knees that made a loud statement about the heaviness of the denim.

The fades continued to roll downhill until the end of the competition. When he crossed the finish line, it was with impressive combs and whiskers and a beautiful all-over blue tone. The pair actually looked comfortable and, more than this, incredibly stylish. Cuffed high at the top of his boots, they made Todd's already thick legs look like absolute tree trunks—as though they could stop the train bearing down on him dead in its tracks.

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Todd is still wearing the pair regularly, and he says that they've still got lots of fight left in them. "These are," he says, "the titans that Hercules Faced. Wearing them is not for the faint of heart but for the brave and courageous of spirit (or the lunatics)." We couldn't agree more.

The Verdict

After 66 days in this pair, my impressions still seem tentative. I still feel like I'm only just getting to know them. They're not spilling their secrets yet, but they're starting to open up. They'll be at the centre of my rotation until Y3 of the competition starts, but even this doesn't feel like enough time. After six months, they'll be well on their way, but this will still be the only first steps in a much longer process.

[caption id="attachment_870" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] After 66 Days, They're Still Just Getting Started[/caption]

A good comparison here might be Frodo's journey from Bag End to Mount Doom. After spending 66 days in my pair, I feel like the journey has only just begun. I'm still in the shire, with a long and difficult road stretching out before me.

If you want a pair that is a walk in the park, the Breaker of Legs are not for you. To bring the best out of this pair, you'll need to commit to the process. The 365 days of the Indigo Invitational will be a good start, but, even with complete dedication, one year will only get you as far as the gates of Mordor.

From there, you'll be able to see the fires of Mount Doom. Even with the destination in view, other pairs might call out to you, making your burden feel all the heavier. Ignore these calls. This heavy pair is worth the weight.

[caption id="attachment_871" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Worth the Weight[/caption]

The difficult path has, at its end, the greatest rewards. If you can walk that long and difficult road with this pair, they will pay back your investment in spades. When you've taken them there and back again, they will be unlike anything else in your collection. They will be one pair to rule them all. They will be precious.

Buy now for $299


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