UJeans, a custom premium-denim maker based just outside of Toronto, has experienced a surge in sales among male buyers in the past year, says Daniel Feuer, the company's president.
"At the end of last year, approximately a quarter of our clientele were male," Feuer says.
Many buyers of premium men's denim want jeans that don't droop or sag in the waist, or hang too low at the hem, experts say. And they want a wash that looks good enough for multiple events, from day to evening.
"My impression is men are realizing that you have that extra utility with jeans," Feuer says. "Put it on with a blazer, with a jacket, go from home to the office to the club with only a slight change in what you're wearing."
And it's not just the higher-end department stores and designers who have joined the premium-jeans craze. Lands' End recently developed a premium line for men called Hand Crafted Jeans, which features narrower-leg styles in finer washes for $75.
There's only one problem for the men who have recently jumped on the premium-jeans bandwagon. As men have become more comfortable shopping and dressing up, the trend of wearing "dressy jeans" to formal or upscale events has begun - just ever so slightly - to taper off.
At a recent party for a Sean John fragrance launch in New York, hip-hop mogul Diddy reportedly turned guests away who were clad in jeans.
"There definitely is a shift to the more dressed-up," says Memsor Kamarake, fashion director of Vibe magazine. But, he adds, "When it's a luxury look, without the flashiness, [denim] can still fit in to the classier event."
Retailers and fashion experts say denim will never be replaced. Men love their jeans the way women love shoes.
"People have said denim is trending down," says Pepper Foster, the other half of the Chip & Pepper design team. "But I don't believe that. Denim's going nowhere."
Buying premium denim
Here are a few tips:
Start off in a price range that suits your pocket. There are good brands out there that won't cost you hundreds of dollars. Lands' End has premium denim for $75. A company called Cheap Monday sells pairs for $65.
Don't get confused by all the new brands, styles and washes. In "Time to Lose the Dad Jeans," in Details magazine's September issue, writer Katherine Wheelock urges men not to be "paralyzed by choice." Premium denim doesn't have to come from some fancy, fashion-forward designer. Frankly, good old Levi's makes one of the more fabulous premium jeans. When in doubt, go with a dark wash in a relaxed cut.
Be kind to your high-end jeans. One of the great things about regular jeans is their durability. Throw 'em on the floor, or toss 'em in the washer. But with premium denim, the rules change. An article on denim-buying in the October issue of Men's Health recommends guys dry clean their dressier denim. Otherwise, dyes bleed and denim will fade.