Jeans, that enduring staple in our wardrobes, have traveled a long way since their birth in the gold mines of the 19th century. As they evolved, they witnessed countless transformations – from a symbol of rebellion in the mid-20th century to a canvas of artistic expression in the present day. Various brands have emerged and left their distinct imprints on the history of denim. And today, we will shed light on these leading brands that not only have redefined style but have also set high standards for quality, embraced their rich history, and adopted sustainable production methods.
But before we delve into our curated list, let's take a moment to understand what makes a brand truly stand out in this competitive world. It goes beyond just the brand name or the price tag; it's about the value, experience, and uniqueness each brand brings to the table.
- Quality: The quality of jeans lies in their fabric, fit, and durability. High-quality jeans are made of premium materials, intricately woven, and meticulously stitched. They fit like a dream, elevating your comfort and style. They're built to endure, growing more characterful with each wear and wash.
- History: A brand's history adds a layer of authenticity and credibility. Many top jeans brands have rich histories rooted in craftsmanship, innovation, and cultural impact. This heritage not only paints a picture of their journey but also influences their present designs and future aspirations.
- Methods of Production: The way jeans are made significantly contributes to their overall quality and the brand's ethical stance. Methods of production can range from traditional methods, like hand-stitching and manual dyeing, to modern techniques involving laser cutting and ozone washing. A growing trend is the adoption of sustainable practices to reduce water and energy consumption and minimize environmental impact.
Top 10 Jeans Brands In The World
Using the above criteria, as well as public data of sales numbers globally we've come up with a shortlist of the most popular jeans brands in the world.
Note that we are not affiliated with any of these companies or brands, this is just a guide and introduction to the biggest and most popular jeans brands to help guide your shopping.
Levi Strauss & Co., better known as Levi's, is an iconic American brand recognized globally for its denim jeans. Established in 1853, Levi's is credited with the invention of the classic blue jeans, and its 501 model is still popular to this day.
The origin story of Levi Strauss & Co. is almost as iconic as the blue jeans the brand is universally renowned for. Established in 1853 by Levi Strauss, a Bavarian immigrant, the company found its roots in San Francisco during the height of the Gold Rush. Originally a wholesale dry goods business, the firm dramatically transformed when Jacob Davis, a tailor, partnered with Levi Strauss to patent the idea of using rivets to reinforce stress points in trousers. This innovative concept led to the creation of the first-ever pair of blue jeans in 1873, changing the face of workwear forever.
After being privately held for 145 years, the company went public in 2019, listing its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. While physical store sales have taken a hit, Levi's quickly pivoted to strengthening its online presence, which paid off handsomely. Their direct-to-consumer channels and e-commerce sales have seen consistent growth.
Wrangler is an American manufacturer of jeans and other clothing items, with roots tracing back to 1904. It was initially known for its durable and comfortable denim products primarily for working men and women, particularly in rodeo and other western activities.
In the world of denim, Wrangler stands tall as one of the pioneering brands with a rich history spanning over seven decades. Founded in 1947, Wrangler began its journey in Greensboro, North Carolina, with an aim to revolutionize the denim industry. They initially rose to fame with their line of jeans designed specifically for cowboys, introducing innovations that made the jeans more durable and comfortable for rodeo use. Today, Wrangler is recognized worldwide for its quality and robust designs, continuing its legacy of creating denim that blends functionality with style.
Wrangler's unique product is undeniably their Cowboy Cut Original Fit Jeans, a garment that has remained largely unchanged since its creation. Built to withstand the rigors of cowboy life, these jeans come with a higher rise, wider leg openings to fit over boots, and reinforced stress points. With a blend of cotton and heavyweight broken twill denim, these jeans not only exude a vintage charm but also offer exceptional durability.
Diesel is an Italian clothing company founded in 1978, known for its luxury ready-to-wear denim pieces. Diesel jeans are well-regarded for their innovative styles, premium quality, and edgy marketing campaigns.
The story of Diesel is a testament to the vision and endurance of its founder, Renzo Rosso. Established in 1978 in Molvena, a small town in northern Italy, Diesel quickly earned a reputation as a fashion-forward denim brand, breaking through the traditional sartorial conventions of the time. Initially, the brand focused primarily on making jeans for workers due to their durability and affordability. However, under Rosso's progressive leadership, Diesel quickly transcended its utilitarian beginnings to become an iconic symbol of rebellious youth culture and innovative fashion.
Lee Jeans is another historic American denim brand, founded in 1889. Originally a workwear company, Lee gained popularity with its innovations like the zipper fly and the first-ever slim-fit jeans for women. The brand is widely recognized for its comfortable, durable, and stylish denim products.
Renowned for its classic, durable, and stylish denim, Lee Jeans has had a significant impact on the jeans industry for over a century. Established in 1889 by Henry David Lee in Salina, Kansas, Lee originally started as a wholesale grocery distribution business. However, recognizing the need for better workwear, Lee made a strategic pivot in 1911 and started manufacturing dungarees and jackets, marking its entrance into the world of denim. The brand rapidly rose in popularity due to its commitment to quality, comfort, and durability, becoming a staple in the closets of hardworking Americans and eventually denim lovers worldwide.
Pepe Jeans is a popular denim and casual wear jeans brand based in London. Since its inception in a small market stall in 1973, Pepe Jeans has grown to be a leading player in the global fashion industry.
Financially, Lee has consistently been a robust performer in the denim industry. The brand, now a part of Kontoor Brands along with Wrangler, has continued to post healthy figures despite various market challenges. In 2020, Kontoor Brands reported net sales of $2.1 billion, with Lee's contribution to this significant. The brand has a strong global presence, especially in Asia, where it generates a large portion of its revenue.
True Religion is a premium denim brand based in California, USA, and founded in 2002. The company's jeans are recognized for their high-quality craftsmanship, unique detailing, and bold styles, particularly their iconic horseshoe logo stitched onto the back pockets. Despite facing some business challenges, True Religion maintains a dedicated following.
True Religion was first established in 2002, with its headquarters in California, United States. The brand was founded by Jeffrey Lubell and Kym Gold, both of whom sought to redefine premium denim through an emphasis on fit, quality, and style. Over the years, True Religion has managed to carve out a niche in the highly competitive fashion industry with its unique approach to denim. Despite its comparatively short history, the brand has made a lasting impact, often associated with innovation and the American heritage style.
True Religion has experienced a roller coaster of ups and downs. In 2013, the brand was sold to TowerBrook Capital Partners for approximately $835 million. However, increased competition and changing fashion trends led the company to file for bankruptcy protection in 2017. True Religion managed to restructure and emerged from bankruptcy later that year. It navigated another Chapter 11 filing in 2020 due to the general stress on retail, successfully emerging again with a stronger e-commerce presence. As of 2021, True Religion was moving forward with a solid online business model while still maintaining select physical retail locations worldwide.
Calvin Klein is an American fashion house established in 1968, known for its minimalist and functional aesthetic. Their denim line, like the rest of their offerings, is known for its modern, sophisticated styles, and high-quality materials.
Founded in 1968 by the designer himself, Calvin Klein was initially a coat shop in New York City's York Hotel. The brand quickly expanded, with Klein's talent leading it to a line of women’s apparel and later into menswear, making it a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry. Calvin Klein's entry into the denim market came in 1978, dramatically impacting the brand's trajectory. The new jeans collection was an instant success, symbolizing the beginning of designer jeans' popularity. By the 1980s, Calvin Klein Jeans had become one of the most sought-after brands, partly thanks to their provocative advertising campaigns featuring young models like Brooke Shields.
Tommy Hilfiger is a global brand with an American heritage, well-known for its preppy, classic, and youthful style. Although the brand creates a wide range of apparel, its denim jeans are especially popular, with a variety of fits and styles for every age group.
When talking about the giants of the denim world, the name Tommy Hilfiger is one that cannot be overlooked. Established in 1985 by American fashion designer Thomas Jacob Hilfiger, the brand rapidly grew to become a global force in the world of apparel. Born out of Hilfiger's love for music and pop culture, the brand was initially backed by “The Murjani Group”. Tommy Hilfiger’s first campaign, which reportedly left the company with only $50,000 in the bank, famously declared him as one of the ‘4 Great American Designers for Men' alongside Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein. However, this audacious move paid off, catapulting the brand to the forefront of the fashion industry.
The brand is a part of PVH Corp., also known as Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation, which is an American clothing company, and one of the world's largest apparel organizations. Established in 1881, PVH Corp.'s portfolio includes several renowned brands, most notably Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, which contribute a substantial portion of the company's revenue. Other brands under its umbrella include Van Heusen, IZOD, ARROW, Warner's, Olga, True&Co, and Geoffrey Beene.
Guess is a well-known American brand, recognized for its trendsetting and sexy style since its establishment in 1981. Their jeans are famous for their unique washes, fits, and high-fashion appeal, with iconic styles like the Marilyn 3-Zip being emblematic of the brand's flair for innovation.
The journey of Guess began in the early 1980s when the Marciano brothers from France — Georges, Armand, Paul, and Maurice — embarked on their American dream, imbuing their European influence into America's denim industry. Starting from humble beginnings, the brothers opened their first store in upscale Beverly Hills in 1981, launching their brand with a line of unisex jeans known as the “Marilyn.” The stonewashed, slim-fitting design of the Marilyn became an instant hit, marking the beginning of Guess's prominence in the jeans world.
Talking about Guess's financials, it is noteworthy to mention that the company has consistently held its position in the global market. Despite the economic challenges brought on by global events, Guess's strong brand identity and diversified product portfolio have helped the company maintain its profitability. As of the end of 2022, Guess reported global revenues of approximately $2.5 billion, reflecting the brand's vast appeal and the high regard it holds among consumers worldwide. In addition, Guess's strategic approach to expanding its digital footprint and emphasizing e-commerce growth has further solidified its place in the highly competitive global fashion market.
G-Star RAW is a Dutch designer clothing company that specializes in producing raw denim – untreated and unwashed jeans. Founded in 1989, the brand is known for its innovative use of denim and distinctive architectural approach to jean construction. G-Star RAW focuses on streetwear-infused designs with an emphasis on sustainability.
Established in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1989, the brand was originally named Gap Star but changed its name to G-Star to avoid confusion with Gap Inc., and to cement its own unique identity in the international fashion industry. As a brand, G-Star RAW has always maintained an unwavering focus on denim craftsmanship, sophistication, and street-style aesthetics.
G-Star RAW's unique product that stands out from the rest is their ‘RAW' denim. Unlike the pre-washed or treated jeans that dominate the market, G-Star's RAW denim is a testament to the beauty of untouched, untreated denim, which the wearer can personalize over time. The RAW philosophy extends beyond just jeans to a full range of clothing, footwear, accessories, and even eyewear.
Bonus, 10 More Top Jeans Brands
- 7 For All Mankind: 7 For All Mankind is a premium denim brand based in California, USA, and is often credited with establishing the premium denim market. Known for its high-quality materials, fit, and sophisticated styles, the brand appeals to fashion-forward consumers and celebrities alike. Their jeans range from classic to trend-driven designs, catering to a variety of tastes.
- AG Jeans: AG Jeans (Adriano Goldschmied) is a premium denim brand known for its chic, classic styles and high-quality fabrics. Founded in 2000 by denim guru Adriano Goldschmied and Yul Ku, the brand's commitment to eco-friendly manufacturing processes sets it apart in the industry. AG Jeans offers a variety of styles for men and women that blend design expertise with superior craftsmanship.
- American Eagle Outfitters: American Eagle Outfitters is a popular American brand known for its affordable, on-trend denim. The brand's extensive range of sizes, styles, and washes, particularly in their jeans, makes them a favorite among young adults. American Eagle also places a strong emphasis on body positivity and inclusivity in their marketing and product offerings.
- Rag & Bone: Rag & Bone is a New York-based brand that offers urban, chic styles with a strong focus on quality and craftsmanship. Their denim line is celebrated for its clean aesthetic, fantastic fit, and the incorporation of British heritage with modern design. The brand aims to produce wearable yet stylish jeans that seamlessly blend classic tailoring with an edgy yet understated New York aesthetic.
- Nudie Jeans: Nudie Jeans is a Swedish brand known for its commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing. The company offers a variety of raw and prewashed denim jeans, and it stands out for its “repair for free” policy, encouraging customers to mend their jeans rather than discarding them. Nudie Jeans' focus on environmental responsibility and transparency has been a significant factor in its global popularity.
- Uniqlo: Uniqlo is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer, and retailer offering a range of basic and essential apparel including denim jeans. Their jeans are known for their affordable price, comfortable fit, and innovative fabric technology like Heattech and AIRism. Uniqlo is globally recognized for providing high-quality, functional, and reasonably priced products.
- Zara: Zara, a Spanish apparel retailer, is a part of the Inditex group, one of the world's leading fashion retailers. Known for its fast-fashion model, Zara offers trendy denim styles that mimic high-end fashion at affordable prices. Their jeans come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and fits, catering to a vast demographic.
- H&M: H&M is a Swedish multinational clothing-retail company known for its fast-fashion clothing, including denim jeans for men, women, teenagers, and children. Like Zara, H&M offers the latest styles in denim at relatively low prices. The brand aims to be sustainable, and they offer a recycling program where customers can bring in old clothes in exchange for a discount.
- Madewell: Madewell is a US-based company that specializes in great jeans, quality fabrics, and unique details. Launched in 2006 as a sister brand to J.Crew, Madewell is particularly appreciated for its denim range, which offers diverse sizes and fits to cater to various body types. Madewell's mission is to create products that are both stylish and long-lasting.
- Paige: Paige is a California-based premium denim brand founded in 2004 by Paige Adams-Geller, a former fit model. The brand focuses on designing pieces that you can live in and boasts an impressive celebrity following. Known for its considered details, innovative materials, and high-quality products, Paige offers stylish and comfortable jeans that often incorporate a certain LA flair.