What do you get when you spend $1,500 on a pair of blue jeans?

By Troy Patterson, Bloomberg

What does $1,500 get you in blue jeans? One answer is 44 pairs of Wranglers. Another option: Four or five pairs of raw denim-a rigid, rugged, unrinsed jean for true connoisseurs-from Pure Blue Japan, Samurai, or any of the other excellent brands frequently hailed on Reddit’s /rawdenim subthread. A third, for a sophisticated rich-brat look, gets you a single reworked pair of Levi’s, with asymmetrical cuffs, from Parisian design collective Vetements.

But if you believe that your 15 Benjamins entitle you to completely personalized perfection, you’ll want an appointment at Manhattan’s 3×1, reputed to offer the best best tailor-made denim in the world. Though the word bespoke has been misused and degraded, it legitimately applies to the custom work done at the company’s SoHo premises.

“Bespoke is typically for harder-to-fit guys, or people who have something really specific in mind,” says 3×1 founder Scott Morrison, who launched the company in 2011, following the entrepreneurial successes of Paper Denim & Cloth and Earnest Sewn.

For my part, I arrived at Morrison’s Mercer Street sales floor bearing a reference garment: A pair of raw jeans purchased (a million or so years ago) at a Freemans Sporting Club sample sale.

Back then, my jeans were as crisp as the bolts of new denim I found hanging on 3×1’s wall. Now, they were deeply marked by decent whiskering and honeycombs — jargon for the types of fades that some hard-core denim-heads pursue by putting off washing jeans. Mine had been worn often enough that it was time to consider retiring them.

“The first thing we talk about is: What are you looking for in a jean?” Morrison said.

I replied that I was looking for the same jeans — but better. Morrison gauged them with a tape measure and photographed me in them, a prelude to digital rendering. We then talked about the fit: I wanted them slightly looser in the top block and maybe an added bit of tapering below the knee. Then the discussion gave way to a point-by-point discussion of particulars. Did I want to change the pocket opening? How did I feel about the back pockets?

Morrison felt that the back pockets appeared a touch out of proportion — “This doesn’t look bad; it’s just a little bit, like big,” he said — and proceeded to softly but firmly recommend adjusting them. In much the same way, he recommended lengthening the rear rise by a fraction of an inch. His tone indicated that this wasn’t really a recommendation, more the casual statement of an obvious fact.

“So, let’s talk some denims,” he segued. Along the wall in the shop hung 70 bolts of denim, almost exclusively selvage, which means (long story, short) that its edges are resistant to fraying. But 3×1 can source more than 800 different types of denim. If your tastes run Euro, and Diesel discontinues white jeans in your favorite club-going cut, Morrison is your man. Moreover, he can give raw denim any rinse you might dream of.

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