OD+BJ 12.5oz. "Luxe" Jeans | Review by Clueless Wanderer

Hailing from Australia, Michael Nguyen a.k.a Cluess Wanderer has spent the last two months giving his OD+BJ 12.5oz. "Luxe" Jeans some serious love, and taken the time to put together one of the most thorough reviews that we have had the pleasure of reading. Featured below, is Clueless Wanderer's write-up which covers just about everything there is to know about our second collaboration model with Big John:

  • Right-hand twill denim. Short-staple neppy Desi cotton for the warp.
  • Luxurious Suvin Gold for the weft side. Here we can see the neps more vividly.
  • Warp and weft.

Fabric

Fabric is the first reason making me picking this pair. It features short-staple Desi cotton — an Indian indigenous variety — for the warp, and luxurious Suvin Gold cotton for the weft. The purpose is to create a fabric that is super comfortable inside but still has a textured look on the outside. Not a brand new idea but let’s see how this combination works out. (As the name of the jeans is “Luxe” so I will also use “Luxe” to refer to the fabric as well.)
We have a fabric with a relatively uniform appearance with neps here and there. The denim is mildly hairy due to using the ELS Suvin Gold cotton. It has an interesting hand feeling on the warp side with all the neps and the weft side is super smooth. The indigo hue is about in the middle of the spectrum, not too dark nor too bright, with a grey tinge.
“Luxe” denim on the left. Unsanforized 9oz. Cone Mill denim on the right.
I will compare it with two other fabrics: unsanforized 9oz. Cone Mill denim and Suvin Gold denim from Studio D’Artisan. I would like to see the difference between this “Luxe” denim and the other two. One denim is categorized as “lightweight” (9oz. at raw state and around 11oz. after soaked) and another one that made from 100% Suvin Gold cotton.
The indigo hue on the 9oz. Cone Mill denim is much brighter than “Luxe” denim. Both textures are uniform but we can see tiny streaks of slubs on the 9oz. Cone Mill, whereas only the neps are visible on “Luxe” denim. When putting them on, the 9oz. Cone Mill is super lightweight, but it gives me a flimsy and paper-like feeling, while the “Luxe” denim feels more substantial, comfortable, and silky smooth on the skin.
I believe this “Luxe” denim would be much durable than the 9oz. Cone Mill denim. It is because the fabric is woven with Suvin Gold cotton — known for its extra long staple — rather than merely being heavier. What's more interesting is “Luxe” denim stretchesssss, a bit!
SDA’s Suvin Gold denim on left. “Luxe” denim on right. 

Warp to warp and weft to weft comparison.

Compared to Studio D’Artisan Suvin Gold denim, both of them are uniform in texture. But the Suvin Gold has more subtle slubby streaks, darker indigo hue than “Luxe” denim. The whole Suvin Gold denim gives an absolute silky smooth feeling but personally, I like the “Luxe” denim more. Somehow it feels right to me, textured but smooth and comfortable. I will discuss more about this in the final section.
At the moment, I have no idea how the denim will fade over time. I do not expect to have some crazy fades on this since we utilise an ELS cotton here. However, I do believe it will fade with interesting characteristics over time.
Front, back and side — Triple cuffs.

Fit

Since the denim is sanforized, I skipped the initial soak and tried it on straight away. I’m 176cm and 94kg and wear size 36.
At first, I was considering sizes 34 and 36. Taking into account the stretch amount at the waist as advised from OD, size 34 would be a snug fit for me. However, the knee and leg opening would be a bit risky since I have relatively big calves and prefer comfort over a trimmed look. Hence, I picked size 36.I hesitated a bit as I thought the tapering would be quite aggressive with a 7.5" of leg opening for size 36. However, the fit turned out pretty well. The top block is comfortable. The tapering starts from just below the knee and hug my calves nicely. I have no problems at all with this new fit and I’m glad that I picked size 36.

Construction and Details

The sewing on this jeans is done by one of the most prestigious sewing houses (if not the most) in Japan — Big John. So I expect impeccable needlework.

I will walk through the construction and most of the details together with photos.

  • The jeans have all the classic details: 5 fly buttons, chainstitches on waistband, riveted front pockets, lockstitches at fly.

  • Construction is mainly done with chainstitches. They utilised 2 colors: ecru and traditional burnt orange. The sewing is super neat and these two colors go along effectively. No hidden rivets for back pockets, only bartacked.
  • A close look at fly and waistband. The sewing is just perfect. Fly buttons are branded and backed with leather.
  • Stitches and reinforcement stitches in the crotch area. Simple, dense, and solid.
  • From left to right. Button hole is sewn neatly — Flat belt loops — Lockstitches, chainstitches on the inseam and hem. Flawless! I love the way they use 2 contrast colours chainstitches on the inseam.
    Riveted front and coin pockets. I like this kind of rivets because of it smooth feeling. Of course the selvedge for the coin pocket is there.
  • Half-lined back pockets. They use an original Indigo stitch fabric for the lining.
  • And this beautiful fabric is used for the pocket bags too!
  • Lastly, the selvedge ID is left blank for a clean look.

Impression and Thoughts

In the past few years, lightweight denim has been an interesting topic to me. However, not many of the releases attracted me this much. I have a few criteria for my lightweight summer denim and the “Luxe” jeans ticked all the boxes.
Flasher with pins. The branded tab with green characters is a nice touch to the jeans.

Balance of Denim weight and texture

Denim weight and texture balance is often a trade-off. Of course, I have seen some lightweight denims that packed a lot of characteristics such as the “Dog Days” denim (a collaboration from Okayama Denim & Japan Blue), Kiraku denim from Oni denim, etc. But to me, the thing is to get the right amount of it. I always stay away from lightweight denim that also has exaggerated texture. Because I will question the durability and personally I do not feel the fabric is “denim” anymore.
With this “Luxe” denim, Nihon Menpu definitely nailed the balance of weight and texture. 12.5oz is a good point in lightweight denim category. I feel anything that falls below 11oz. would be flimsy. The texture on this denim is neither bland nor exaggerated. The warp side is interesting to look at or touch. The neps have an appropriate size and are distributed evenly. This denim indeed got that little twist I wished for. I am happy with it.
After around 30 wears, the fabric is soften significantly and the indigo hue is brighten up. Creases are formed but still not very clear. Fabric is still hairy and neps are still dark.

Comfort, design and versatility

Comfort is my top priority when actually trying the denim on, after having a quick examination of the fabric. And I have to say, “Luxe” jeans are the most comfortable jeans among my lightweight denim collection. Thanks to the sanforized fabric, I can enjoy the pair straight out of the parcel, without having to soak or wash it. Using Suvin Gold cotton for the weft gives a silky smooth feeling to my skin. The fabric gets softer and more flexible after every wear. I think it will get even more comfortable after the first soak or wash.
The “New Taper” fit also enhances comfort. It provides a lot of mobility. I tried jogging, squatting down, sitting on the ground and I found no difficulties at all. The tapering is a bit huggy in the beginning but thanks to the stretchy fabric, after just a few wears, I am totally fine with it. The pockets’ size is good enough for me to store my phone, wallet or keys. Overall, I have no complaints with the comfort provided by “Luxe” jeans. It definitely is the most comfortable lightweight denim I have, just like Okayama Denim promised.
Beautifully executed chainstitches, dense and neat bartacks. 

This is what you expect when it comes to Big John!

To describe the design aspect of the jeans, I will use two words: minimalism and Japanese.
Minimalism is expressed firstly when looking at Big John’s meticulous needlework. The stitching colors are all subtle yet elegant. The sewing is executed flawlessly. Although things are kept simple such as omitted rivets on back pockets and flat belt loops, but who cares? Look at the bartacks and I just know that they are more than enough to hold my jeans up for a long period. The whole jeans just look so clean and solid.
However, it does not mean the jeans appearance is just mediocre. Okayama Denim has cleverly balanced things out by using an original indigo sashiko stitch fabric for the pocket bags, back pocket lining and a heavy-duty natural cowhide for the patch with “Seigaiha” artwork done by Nathan Spoor. Doing this way, I feel a strong Japanese spirit “within” the jeans, despite other details being kept low-key on the “outside”. And only the owner of the jeans knows that!
  • Beefy natural cowhide patch with beautiful “Seigaiha” artwork from Nathan Spoor.
  • A closer look at the original indigo sashiko stitch pocket bag. It is so beautiful that I avoid putting anything sharp or pointy in my pockets.
Ok, so this pair of denim is comfortable and designed in a well-thought manner. But the important thing is when and where I am going to wear this pair! I love denim and wearing denim at as many places as possible. And as my workplace allows employees to wear denim, I would never miss this opportunity. So a versatile pair of denim to me is what I can wear at home, at work, while walking in the park or hanging out with my friends.
 I am not sure how the neps will fade out over time but at the moment, it is still at a modest level and I have no issues with it. I tried matching it with different outfits and they are going pretty well together. The only limitation is that it would not fit well with work boots since the cut has moderate tapering.
Below are four outfits I have tried with “Luxe” jeans:
  • Left: with Japan Blue aloha shirt, Iron Heart sneakers for a relaxed, summer vibe. Right: with PBJ&OD Kakishibu slub tee, and The Flat Head derby. My favourite outfit.
  • Left: with Samurai Jeans black tee, Freewheelers worker deck jacket, Hawkmoth Leathers Punjab belt and The Flat Head derby for a military-inspired look. Right: with Fullcount chambray shirt, Roleclub derby for a more formal look.
“Luxe” jeans work well in all outfits. Whether it is casual or semi-formal looks, the jeans just fit in appropriately. And the importance is I feel comfortable and confident when putting it on for most of the occasions. Thus, I am definitely satisfied with the versatility of the “Luxe” jeans!
Okayama Denim 10th anniversary label sewn behind the leather patch, representing a product with pride!

Value for money

I usually hear people saying “you get what you paid for”, I believe there are always products that are crafted with high quality and marked at a reasonable price. I am not really a fan of over-complicated products or with lousy details, products which do not focus on their core values.
With the “Luxe” jeans, I feel the product is worth every penny I paid for. It possesses everything I need for a summer pair of jeans. The fabric is silky soft inside but textured outside, woven by the famous Nihon Menpu, utilizing Indian cotton. The fit is comfortable and provides a lot of mobility. The construction is done flawlessly by legendary sewing house Big John. And the design and details are kept in a perfect balance between minimalism and Japanese spirit on the outside and inside.
When I saw the retail price at $185 USD, I fell out of my chair. It is the best offer in the market for such a thoroughly well-made product. It beat all other summer jeans offers (Pure Blue Japan, Oni Denim, Momotaro, Railcar Fine Goods 9oz Cone Mill denim, Tellason 12.5oz) which I have ever come across.
All in all, this is definitely one of the best purchases I made in 2021. It is THE summer jeans I’ve been looking for! Thank you Okayama Denim for putting a tremendous amount of effort to collaborate with Big John and Nihon Menpu and release this terrific product. I cannot wait to see how this pair go along when the real summer comes. It is bound to be an enjoyable journey!

Many thanks to Cluess Wanderer for taking the time to put together this incredible review.


The original review can be viewed here.

@cluelesswanderer26


Subscribe

Sign up today