What is wrong with pants in America today?

One man’s quest to find jeans that fit

It used to be easy. When I needed a new pair of jeans, I just walked into a store and bought Levi’s 569s. They were the only jeans I’d found that fit off the rack.

Back in March, I went to Macy’s to buy a pair to replace the threadbare ones in my closet. They didn’t have my size (29 x 32) in stock. The salesclerk checked the computer and reported that no Macy’s stores in Missouri or Illinois had that size in stock, but he’d located a pair in New Jersey. New Jersey!

I am in decent shape. Apparently, that makes me a hard-to-fit rarity. If I were looking for jeans with a 40″ waist, they had plenty of those in the store. I’ll note that there’s a lot of obvious psychological manipulation in the way jeans are sized. In the world of Levi’s, I have a 29″ waist, but in reality, I have a 32″ waist. I suppose that’s meant to appeal to people who think “I like these jeans because they tell me I’m skinnier than I really am.” I wonder how big those jeans with the 40″ waist size really are.

When the jeans from New Jersey arrived in the mail, they didn’t fit. At some point since I bought my last pair of Levi’s 569s in 2009, they drastically changed the cut without changing the style number. They reduced the front rise from 11.5″ to 10″ and reduced the thighs from 27″ to 25″. Even though these crack-exposing sausage casings cut off my circulation everywhere else, the new Levi’s 569s are somehow too loose in the waist, so they constantly feel like they’re falling down into wardrobe malfunction territory. They’re made for guys with pencil legs, no butt and, um, small packages. I have 24″ thighs and 38-½” hips from doing a lot of squats and riding my bike to work. (I’ll let my wife answer questions about how I measure up elsewhere.)

The whole point of buying mass-produced jeans with a specific style number from the same manufacturer was to make that decision once and then never have to think about it again. Levi’s touts the 569s as “our loosest wide leg jean.” If those are loose, I can’t imagine what their 510 Super Skinny jeans are like. I probably couldn’t even get them over my calves. Of the 16 different styles listed on Levi’s website, can’t at least one of them actually be loose?

This issue is not unique to Levi’s. I had the same problem trying to replace an old pair of relaxed-fit “classic” khakis from the Gap. They didn’t have 29x32s in the store, so I ordered them online. The rise was ridiculously low, the upper thighs were tight, and the waist was loose and gappy — just like the Levi’s. You can’t call a style “classic” if you keep changing the cut to appeal to hipsters. Are you happy now, hipsters? Your insidious plot to make skinny jeans ubiquitous has come to fruition.

Feeling somewhat panicky about finding a pair of jeans that fit before my old ones completely disintegrated, I turned to Google and found MakeYourOwnJeans.com. As their domain name suggests, you send them your measurements, and they send you a pair of custom-made jeans.

MakeYourOwnJeans.com is based in India. (My three pairs of “American” Levi’s 569s were made in China, Egypt and Cambodia.) They offer jeans in a dizzying array of colors, washes and weights. They also make custom shirts, suits, chinos and other items, including, intriguingly, ’68 comeback Elvis leather suits.

I ordered a pair of Dark Blue 14.5oz Heavy Denim Jeans on November 23. They were surprisingly affordable: $51 + $2 for antique copper star rivets + $2 for an iPhone coin pocket + $16 for shipping = $71 total.

My jeans shipped from Mumbai on December 26 and arrived on December 28.  They fit perfectly — exactly like the old pair of Levi’s 569s I used for the measurements. They arrived with a charmingly obsequious letter signed by “Harry.” Here’s an excerpt:

We are sure for many of you this must be the first time you will be wearing a jeans specially made and enzyme washed for you, else the standard jeans you buy from any store are bulk made in thousands of quantity together using one measurement system.

Making your own Jeans and other clothing is an unique and incomparable experience which you should be proud of, the very existence of this garment is due to your inputs, you are a very integral part of this garment without whom this would not have been possible.

MakeYourOwnJeans.com, a Harryfashion Company, is very committed to the Harry character. He also sent the order update email message and signed the “checking report.” Harry has a new, loyal customer.

4 thoughts on “What is wrong with pants in America today?

  1. Ron Rogers

    Welcome to the “blog-a-sphere,” Brian! I had the same experience with Gap jeans. I finally gave up and started trying on all sizes of all brands near my size until I found one that I could tolerate. 🙁

  2. beingtree

    Yay! The fat days are back! I can’t wait to share this with Patrick — I’m sure he’ll totally love to get some custom-made jeans. Heck, I might do it too!

  3. Aaron

    You have to almost be a Levi’s expert to order a pair of jeans from them. For example. I normally wear 34×30 with no problem. In 501’s I wear a 36×30 and 36×32. I ordered an older pair of 569’s on a website and no I have to have them altered because the inseam wears more like a 32.


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