Few items of a man's wardrobe are as essential as a pair of jeans. This series offers up style tips and history lessons about America's greatest contribution to the world of fashion.
Where to: Repair Your Jeans
(Photos: Courtesy of Denim Therapy)
Jeans are the sartorial equivalent of man's best friend. They come in all shapes and sizes, usually say something about their owners and if you treat them right, they'll never let you down. That said, while you can't teach an old dog new tricks, an old pair of jeans can get a new lease on life. We scoured the country for the best places that will put as much TLC into your favorite jeans as you have.
Vitals: 7934 W 3rd St., Los Angeles; 323.852.0171; website
Price range: $15-$25
Turnaround: 10 business days
Formerly known as "Denim Doctors," these guys have been repairing jeans since 1994. Back then, they specialized in collectible jeans—so they're definitely no strangers to selvedge seams. Nowadays they've expanded their services, even taking care of high-end leather goods. Though their vitals have changed a few times, the service and years of experience remain the same.
Vitals: 394 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York; website
Price range: $7-$25 per inch
Turnaround: 2 to 3 weeks
This mail-order service touts that they "not only fix jeans," but "rebuild relationships." Reading their blog reveals a deep understanding and love for denim of all kinds, whether talking about mainstream brands like Levi's and Gap to more artisanal tastes like Sugar Cane. Attention is paid to every painstaking detail. They even have a thread selection process that takes into account the well-worn fades of a variety of denim.
Vitals: 25 W 43 St. Lobby, New York; 877.336.4679; website
Price range: Priced per request
Turnaround: 7-10 business days
Another mail-order service, Denim Surgeon frequently offers coupons giving you discounts on services like zipper replacement and hemming. Their most alluring aspect? Free return shipping. They'll give you an estimate for repairs once they receive your jeans, so if you're looking for a cost-effective way to see what you may be in for, you can't go wrong here.
What once started with owner Sam Parker's mom repairing jeans, is now a full-fledged service. Context's Denim Repair Squad uses industrial sewing machines, heavy-gauge dry denim and mattress ticking for its repairs. That's right, the same stuff you sleep on is used to help reinforce patches. Customers outside of Madison, Wisconsin can mail their jeans for a free e-mail estimate. You don't have to buy jeans from Context to utilize this service, but if you've seen their selection, you may end up doing so anyway.
Vitals: 133 Arena St., El Segundo; 310.607.0044; email; website
Price range: $7-$30 (plus shipping)
Turnaround: 3 days from receipt of jeans
Taking its name from the most iconic pair of jeans, the folks at USA 501 primarily deal with wholesaling a variety of denim products. Being well-versed in used jeans, they offer a cleaning service that involves washing and scrubbing your denim by hand, and for as little as $5. Their repair process is also pretty affordable, and consists of layering different colors of thread into a weave around the hole, subtly concealing the damage under different hues of indigo.
Vitals: 714 Valencia St., San Francisco; 415.558.0658 and 157 Orchard St., New York; 212.388.0079; website
Price range: $40 flat ($20 for items bought at Self Edge)
Turnaround: 2-6 business days
Owner Kiya Babzani knows denim diehards love authentic details, so he furnished his San Francisco shop with a 1950s Singer darning machine, capable of repairing your jeans without the use of patches. Darning was the standard practice of denim repair until the 1960s, and works by weaving threads together to essentially create new fabric where none previously existed—creating a considerably more streamlined look. Both the New York and San Francisco stores also possess Union Special sewing machines in order to hem your jeans with a chain stitch, which promotes a "roping" effect in the jeans by slightly twisting the hem.
A few years ago, the denim artisans at 45 rpm published a quick guide on fixing minor holes in their newsletter.