High rise selvedge denim for $60? Yes please.
There’s a lot of denim brands out there. The market for raw selvedge denim has never been larger- over the past 30 years raw denim jeans have gone from a niche specialty item to something you can buy at Target. I mean seriously, you can actually get decent 100% denim (with a moderate rise) at your local Target. The regular consumer is becoming more educated, thanks to the countless sites advocating for dark wash, selvedge denim. But if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably past that first pair of jeans. We know you want selvedge denim with something a little bit extra. Usually that comes in the form of having a high rise, a detail that the mainstream fashion world has yet to embrace.
Now selvedge is something that Spencer has always worn (since he liked americana/workwear earlier than me), but it’s a fairly new investment for myself. I started out with the selvedge model of the Levis 501CT (currently discontinued) which has a high rise and a slightly tapered leg. Looking back, I should’ve sized down further as those jeans were too big. I definitely became a Levis-head and made sure that all my jeans were from them, even if they weren’t selvedge; I ended up owning the black 501CTs and thrifted lightwash 501s for casual wear. Then I obtained some cooler stuff like the cinchback LVC 1878s (which also ended up loose after I lost some weight) and some faded LVC 1947s. Both were second hand thanks to vintage stores. Overall, I hadn’t bought a new pair of jeans since the Levis 501CT!
Now there wasn’t anything wrong with the denim I already owned, but I was open to getting another dark pair of selvedge denim. Honestly, the fit on the 501CT and the LVC 1878s are a little off and the others aren’t really suited for something super sartorial. I briefly considered getting Luther’s Denim which had MiUSA vintage cuts for $100, but according to Spencer, they had a smaller rise and were a little bit too slim (the latter I don’t have a problem). Then came in the Gooch Brothers.
We were grabbing boba before recording a podcast episode when Garret told us how a someone had dropped off a bunch of Thee Teenaged denim at their local Wasteland, a clothing reseller. I had previously heard him talk a little about it before and only knew that they were MiUSA (made by immigrants!) and were very good for raw selvedge denim. Intrigued, Joshua and I went met Garret there and sure enough, there were a few sizes and models. I tried on a W30 of the “Thee Teen-Aged Jean” and was impressed! Even though it said W30, it fit my 32 body well. I’ve heard that you typically size down when it comes to selvedge denim, something that I wish I knew when I got my 501CTs.
I was about to buy them for an affordable $88 when Garret stopped me; he revealed that The Teen-Aged was selling their models (original $220) online for $60 and that they had free shipping. Intrigued even further, I decided to look more into the brand. What I found was a brand that wasn’t just different in their offering, but in their branding and theme.
Alyasha Owerka-Moore (known as Aly) started Thee Teen-Aged a year ago, and he didn’t want it to be any specific type of denim store. He was no stranger to this scene, especially since he has designer and brand ambassador credit (among other things) to his name. If you look at the about page on the website, you’ll see that it’s not Americana, workwear, or streetwear. It’s just Aly making denim and all of his influences that apply and don’t apply all at once. It’s a real big contrast to other brands that feel a need to push themselves into a singular theme.
“There are so many brands that do “workwear” well. Perhaps too many. I love workwear, but I’m a black man who grew up in New York City. I don’t personally find any romance in the dustbowl, depression or Jim Crow eras, as much as I respect the clothing and style of those eras. I do find inspiration in the music of those times. In my mind, the world doesn’t need another workwear brand. I like rock ‘n’ roll and city shit. A brand is similar to a person; if you spend your time trying to be everything to everyone, you lose your sense of self and identity. It’s my own opinion, but a brand should have an attitude.”
I really like what he said there, especially since it resonates with how I made my blog. For example, I love 1930s-1940s style, but I never really watched old movies or swing danced. I also like bespoke tailoring and luxury suiting, but I have no desire for a “classy lifestyle”. Plus I also felt like I had to subvert the “typical dress” for Asian Americans. I’ll probably get more on that in the future.
During my quick research into the brand, I found their instagram, which is filled with some great imagery that ties into their theme. You can even read about their UNION collaboration called “Trust the Process”, which details the two leads experience and reflection on black culture in America (specifically the 40s-90s). Please learn more about Aly by checking out Denim Dudes, Heddels, and Pony Boy Mag.
By this time, I was already sold on The Teen-Aged. When I went onto the shop portion of the website, I found that there were only a few models of jeans remaining. Sure enough, almost all the pieces were at or around $60, including the Thee Teen-Aged model that I wore at Wasteland. I didn’t know the reasons behind this crazy sale, as the prices were originally $220. I honestly debated a bit, but I ended up getting a pair in the W30 based on my experience at Wasteland.
EDIT: Apparently, they were clearing out the old stock to make way for new pieces!
It ended up being worth it because right when I got my order confirmation, all of the denim (save for the UNION collab) missing from the website. Spencer and I must have gotten the last of sale stock!
The denim came after a week, which was an unexpected surprise as I didn’t receive any shipping notification. They were as stiff as can be, which makes sense as these are 100% raw denim. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this feeling, but I was certainly pleased since I don’t get to buy new things very often. The finishing was well done, and I really appreciate the more subtle yellow stitching; if you compare them to the Levis 501CT, you’ll notice that the Levi’s yellow is bright. The indigo itself is a great dark color that really reminds me of the Drake’s denim. My jeans are all a bit light, which makes it a bit hard to wear with tailoring; I had a feeling that these Teen-Aged ones were going to be what I’ve been waiting for.
They might be a little high priced for what they are, since they lack the extra details that come with selvedge (cinchbacks, suspender buttons, pocket variations), but it’s nice that they were MiUSA and had a high rise; that latter detail is perhaps the most important one of all.
The rise measures out to be 11.5″, which is absolutely perfect as it sits at (or nearly above) my belly button. It’s much higher than my LVC 1878s (which are 10.5) and are pretty comparable to the 501CT except I’m much more happy with the fit at the waist. We shall have to see as they wear in, however. My initial complaint is that the pockets are not deep at all. I can barely fit my hands into them and I haven’t even tried to stick a cell phone in there. It’s not a big deal, as I’d probably be wearing a jacket with these trousers.
The leg has a straight fit, fitting comfortable around the thigh with little-to-no taper to the ankle. They don’t feel very wide, but the leg opening actually measured out to a little over 8″ (but less than 8.5″), which is pretty much close to my trouser dimensions. I’ve been experimenting wider trousers lately (like the cinchback flannels and keeping 1940’s proportions) so I’m okay with this; it’s not terribly wide at all! All of the jeans have a 34″ inseam (at least I think so) which allowed me to give them a heavy, 1.5 inch cuff, rolled three times. to end right at the top of my shoe.
As I wasn’t expecting to receive them, my first outfit with the denim was a simple one for a “lazy work day”. I don’t always wear 3PC suits to work and there are times when I keep things toned down, especially when I don’t have a blog post coming out. The denim naturally goes well with my tweed sack-jacket, which was paired with a mint 1950’s shirt, crepe-silk repp tie, and my beanie (because it was damn cold). It feels like a Drake’s outfit, which is probably semi-intentional, since I’ve been inspired by them a lot lately.
The Gooch Brothers actually said that they don’t want to soak their jeans, but Spencer and I knew better than to just perpetually wear them. We each took a moment during the weekend to soak the jeans in cold water for only 30 minutes, just to remove the starchy feeling. The jeans were still pretty tough after they were air dried, but now the real breaking in process can begin. We’ve been wearing them quite a lot since first receiving them and they’ve definitely softened a bit.
Now there really isn’t a need for a post on jeans, because people should already know how to wear them. Obviously these jeans are a bit wider than the recommended Levis 501 (classic) or 511 (slim), but that’s why we like them! The width and high rise add that vintage flavor that rings throughout the blog. Here are just some outfits that we hope can inspire you to make your own combinations if you do decide to get Thee Teen-Aged.
I want to talk a little bit about this casual outfit. As you know, I’ve been branching out with my dressed-down wear and most of it incorporates sneakers with wide trousers and beanies. It has a bit of a vintage casual vibe, but instead of a sportshirt (like Spencer) I wore a striped tee. Honestly, the striped tee deserves it’s own blog post, but just know that it goes with everything whether you tuck it into high rise denim, trousers, or even gurkha shorts.
A great cheat code for cool casual style is to wear something pretty simple and then add on an interesting outer layer. It gets a little difficult during warmer seasons, but that’s why it’s important to invest in lightweight jackets. Instead of a leather jacket, I have a cotton jungle jacket which is still stylish and functional. Now the outfit has a bit of vintage-casual, nautical, and military vibes, all within a dark blue theme. The pop of red amongst the blue was inspired by Marvin Gaye.
$60 for a great pair of high rise selvedge is pretty damn good, especially since no one does that apart from heritage brands that are dedicated to a certain look. That’s why Thee Teen-Aged is so attractive to us; it subverts the expectations of the americana-workwear scene that makes great quality denim for everyone. Aly, the founder, understands that denim is important to streetwear and workwear, but he was never apart of those scenes; the same goes for us and our vintage/classic menswear environment. We just like clothes.
Overall, both Spencer and I are really pleased with our jeans. They’re a dark wash, with a high rise and a pretty full leg. That makes them perfect for our aesthetic, whether it’s to be worn with tailoring or worn with a vintage sportshirt for a casual look. If we’re being honest, the $220 price tag is high for menswear maximalists like us, but that’s usually what happens when you want a MiUSA, high quality garment. Luckily they were offered at $60 for a short while, which made them an incredible buy. The last time I got something like that happened was when I got my Camoshita suit for $75! I really wish I could have shared them with you when they were that low. However, its full price is still cheaper than new LVC, which definitely fills a market gap for high rise denim.
I’m not sure when the official stock is coming back, but I suggest keeping an eye on Thee Teen-Aged. I can only hope that they bring back these models so that everyone else can buy them and support immigrant MiUSA clothing. Or you can just buy them because they are great jeans.
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza