Published on September 17th, 2015 | by Greg0
Patagonia Performance Jeans: Friendlier Denim
We receive a lot of press releases, and normally just take a quick look over them before moving on. But every now and then, a message comes through that grabs our attention and sparks some curiosity. Making strong statements about their differing standards, we heard this about a product that we all use and love: “typically, denim production involves the use of dangerous chemicals to grow conventional cotton; dying it produces millions of gallons of wastewater; and, too often, jeans are sewn in factories where workers may not be treated fairly. “
Patagonia decided to do something about it, and so we found ourselves wearing a pair of jeans from the company, well-known for their outerwear but also very engaged in environmental stewardship. The Patagonia Performance Jeans (tested in the Men’s Straight style), are made with organic cotton, grown without chemical or synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. They aren’t sandblasted, bleached or stonewashed, so they don’t offer the crazy looks that you might have seen from other brands, but instead a fairly conservative and dark appearance that is more classic. Even their sewing practices are Fair Trade certified.
The Performance line uses about 70% cotton, but includes 29% Coolmax® Mechanical Stretch fabric and a DWR finish for water resistance. They have a little bit of give- which makes them more comfortable and better-suited for active endeavors where traditional fabrics can rub or irritate- but they still look like your old pair jeans. Fit was true to size, with only even sizes (no 29″, though that isn’t uncommon). They were nicely structured around the legs, not baggy, and fairly slim, with a perfect amount of flexibility around the lower legs and hips.
They certainly aren’t fast-fashion, but are available at a lower cost than most premium denim (we regularly see pairs for upwards of $250). Nonetheless, a lot of the market is driven by brands and labels, and it will be interesting to see if Patagonia can help push others towards a better product by raising standards. Certainly, they’re a nice-looking, easy-to-like set of jeans that have quickly become among our favorites, and the Patagonia Performance Denim line is available now direct in six styles (three for men and three for women), ranging between $99 and $119 (as tested). Look for them largely at outdoor-focused retailers like REI, or directly.