Denim Week

This Is What It’s Like to Get $635 Custom Jeans

Spoiler alert: It was pretty effing fun.

By: Katie Becker
Photography: Weston Wells

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How does one buy jeans for seven-foot-one-inch-tall basketball player Tyson Chandler? You don’t. You make them from scratch at the 3x1 denim boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. “We’ve made jeans for Karlie Kloss, actresses, models, athletes, collectors, billionaires,” says Scott Morrison, co-founder of the custom jeans operation where they let customers fine-tune each pair. “In many cases we work with clients who have every detail in their mind designed. We’ll have to go through multiple rounds of fitting and spend time to get it right. One celebrity who has built 12 to 14 different jeans with us was so exacting, he would ask us to change the threading stitches on different portions of the jeans to be certain stitches per inch.”

When you walk into the 3x1 boutique on Mercer, you’ll see a wall with giant bolts of denim (which includes only 70 of the 250 different types they have in the building), a glass-walled room with a team of cutters and sewers at work, a rack of ready-to-wear, and a million little details from which you can customize your pair: cuts, colors, washes, pockets, buttons, thread, patches….

To make a pair just for you, you have two choices: You can go with the Custom process starting at $625 where you choose your favorite of several designs available that season, find your perfect size, and then customize all the little details. Or you can go for the Bespoke process, which starts at $1500, during which your every measurement is digitized and saved in their database, and you design the exact cut and fit (go ahead, recreate those super-wide bell-bottoms from middle school) plus all the little details. It takes 3 to 4 try-ons and happens to be a favorite among the Silicon Valley millionaires. In the interest of time and sanity, I went with a Custom pair with dreams of a high waist to, you know, hold things in, plus a few cute details to make the whole custom experience… custom.

Here’s how it all went down:

First things first. For a Custom pair of 3x1 jeans, you first choose from a selected group of styles available that season.

Who can resist a wide-leg jean right now? These are insanely comfy, but look a little like a pair I already have.

These skinny jeans come with a panel down the inseam that make your legs look extra slim, but I’ve decided I’m sick of struggling to get my jeans off every day—I’m retiring the skinnies.

The high waist on this pair is super flattering and I love all the little stitch details at the top. It makes these feel a little retro, which would be cool to play up.

Even though this denim wall is the obvious Instagram shot in the 3x1 store, they actually do use this wall every day to pick and choose denim for clients. However, of the 70 up here, there are about 200 more also available in the building in all different colors and weights.

I picked a dark wash with a little stretch—the go-to recipe for a flattering pair.

If you’ve never cared about the fabric on the inside of your pockets, you will after you see a million fun options laid out like this. I went for simple cute dots.

I was super tempted to go with a yellow or red button, but got scared it would look too Osh Kosh. I went with bright shiny copper.

Even though 3x1 specializes in making a pair that will last you a lifetime, they’re also completely on top of trends. You can pick from a set of original patches. I’m tempted to come up with a creative place for the shark….

The thread you choose can disappear into your wash or contrast completely, showing off the design of your pair.

To play up the retro vibe I’m starting to feel with this pair, I go for a contrast thread in this goldenrod shade.

Cutting is a complicated science, Scott tells me of their expert cutter, Andy. “There’s a direction to every fabric, and we have to pay attention to the grain as different styles have different direction,” he tells me. “For example, the back legs of the jeans basically need to be cut vertical, but the pockets might require something different. The direction of the waistband can affect a stretch, like the contour waist band might go cross-grain, while a men’s waistband might go with the grain. For Andy, he can do 12 to 18 different things in a day.”

Two weeks later (full disclosure: they put my order on rush; it can take longer depending on what you ask for) I’m in my custom pair!

I am loving how the contrast stitch looks on the back.

Now we decide where to cut the hems at the bottom and whether to leave them raw. I went with slightly cropped (with plans to be able to cuff them later) and a raw hem because, yes, I do love that look.

The hem cutting process reminds me (painfully) of trying to make my own jean shorts in middle school and high school. Let’s just say, I wasn’t using a tape measure and… it showed.

Living my best 3x1 Custom jeans life in SoHo!

Last step, climbing onto ledges and windowsills throughout downtown New York City. I can’t think of a better way to show off.

Part of the series:

Denim Week