Give Your Denim Collection a Kick in the Pants

These four brands will help you do it.

Jean Shirt

The first pair of blue jeans was introduced more than a century ago, and their appeal hasn't faded since. If anything, jeans have withstood the test of time to become better (and cooler) than ever. Thanks to a variety of cuts, eye-catching embellishments, and bespoke touches, you basically have no excuse not to up your denim game. Start with these four brands, all of which are reinventing the basic blues to wonderful effect.

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Patchwork denim might conjure up memories of grandma's quilt and D.I.Y. projects, but the stitched-up style has recently experienced a major runway update. For those not ready to shell out for a designer version—or dust off the sewing kit—B-Sides is here to do the legwork for you. The brand's founders, Claire Lampert and Stacy Daily (who also run the online shop Where I Was From), travel to states like Colorado and New Mexico in search of the coolest, most unique discarded textiles. Then, back in their New York studio, they rework them, using vintage Levi's as a base, for a completely one-of-a-kind result. Sure, they're $300 a pair, but these are handcrafted creations, not mass-produced clones. And no one else will have the same pair.

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Though many labels have set out to bring blue jeans into the realm of high fashion, U.K.-based brand Aries takes the opposite route, looking to youth movements of decades past and infusing their denim with a punk-meets-skate sensibility. Designers Sofia Prantera and Fergus Purcell first met while working at the iconic London shop Slam City Skates in the early '90s, forming a friendship based on their mutual love of fashion, art, and counterculture. With Aries, they've set out to create a collection that reflected both their appreciation for beautifully made pieces, as well as their passion for streetwear and the youthful energy that it signifies. Each piece is finished by hand, embellished with patches, graffiti-style lettering, and glittering metallic trim, for a result that's original, experimental, and always a little subversive.

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The designer behind the Los Angeles-based line 69 continues to remain anonymous, preferring to let the clothes speak for themselves. The label is "nongender, and nondemographic"—made for anyone and everyone—and features a variety of silhouettes, from roomy tunics and classic pocket-T's to cocoon dresses and button-fly jeans. In addition to breaking stereotypes, they're also committed to ethical labor practices, manufacturing all of their designs in L.A.'s garment district.

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Elle Sasson

Though her line is primarily focused on ready-to-wear, Elle Sasson's denim offerings are not to be overlooked. The New York-born, Israeli-raised, Hong Kong-based designer first launched her collection in spring 2014, incorporating several denim pieces that put a feminine twist on the fabric with embroidery and voluminous ruffles. This season, Sasson keeps the feminine silhouettes but toughens things up with darker washes and frayed edges.

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