Ethically-made products for ethically-minded women.
Brand: Industry Standard
Price: $115 – $135
Eco / Ethical: made in Los Angeles out of denim from Cone Mills in North Carolina
I still remember the first time that I spent over $100 on a pair of jeans – it was about 13 years ago, the jeans were Citizens of Humanity, and I was pretty sure I’d reached peak extravagance and would never need to buy another pair again.
I was wrong. Premium denim served as my gateway drug into well-made, high quality apparel and eventually became the cornerstone of my wardrobe. Today, it’s fairly common to find jeans priced well over $200 – and sometimes, that is fair. Most of the better-made jeans out there are cut and sewn in Los Angeles, and if a brand uses high quality materials, offers unique silhouettes and washes, and sells through other retailers, $200 can be a realistic price, if not always reasonable for you and me. That said, in the last few years I’ve noticed more and more bigger brands selling $200+ jeans that are made overseas using poor quality materials, which, to me, is unacceptable. If I spend over $200 on a basic pair of skinny jeans, the fabric better not pill, the wash better not get streaky, the knees better not bag out after one wear, and the jeans better not rip at common tension points.
Fortunately for all of us, Nicole Najafi had the same issue – she couldn’t find jeans that were well made, great fitting, and priced under $250. As an economics major working in e-commerce at Balenciaga, she saw this as a challenge, and set out to understand how the industry worked, and what she could do to create great jeans that were more accessibly priced.
Nicole quickly learned that the best domestic manufacturers require large minimums, making them inaccessible to new brands. She networked her way through LA until she met a manufacturing partner who understood her goal of making quality jeans at a realistic price, and who also happened to be one of the top jean makers in the industry. She partnered with the manufacturer to build her business, allowing her to price products as if she owned the factory, and launched Industry Standard in April 2014.
Industry Standard is focused on the ideal fit (more commonly known as… the industry standard) and works to ensure the jeans complement your figure and maintain their shape. The denim is sourced from Cone Mills’ White Oak Plant in North Carolina – the original and premier supplier of denim in America – and each pair is individually made, one-at-a-time. The jeans are sold direct to you, which not only allows for a better retail price but also enables Industry Standard to provide you with a personalized experience – from insight into sizing to custom embroidery.
I review and test so many brands, and very few are as good on paper as in real life. But Industry Standard is exactly what it says it is. I have been wearing them since 2014, and they hold up – the fit is perfect, they don’t lose their shape, and the color doesn’t fade. I’ve had a few pairs (I live in my jeans so I basically wear them until I do something stupid that warrants replacing – don’t touch up paint in your favorite jeans!), but I never feel bad about having to replace my pairs from IS because of how reasonably priced they are. I also love that their sizing tool allows you to determine your size based on the sizes you wear in other popular brands. I was fortunate to get my first pair at a try-on session (Industry Standard does pop-ups around the country so women can try on their jeans in person), but I’ve used the tool for more recent purchases and it is spot on. These are my favorite everyday, everywhere jeans, and it’s so nice that they cost less than $150.
Rita Mehta shops for a living and talks a lot. She launched her website, The American Edit, and podcast, Why Do We Have Things? so she’d have a place to talk about some of the things she’s most passionate about: American made design, responsible manufacturing, and conscious consumption. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.