I don’t think too many people will be surprised to hear that I was introduced to the world of raw denim through the well-known Canadian brand Naked and Famous. Quite a few people are introduced through this brand and others like it. There is a myriad of North American denim brands that make their products on this continent with denim from Cone Mills or Japan for quite a lot less money than most of the brands that make their products in Japan itself. Not to be a hater, but you really can get a lot of these brands confused with each other. For the most part, there is not all that much that sets them apart. There are only two that appear to be seen in a generally positive light- 3Sixteen and Rogue Territory. The only other two that have really made a name for themselves are Gustin and Naked and Famous, though these two brands have a far more polarizing reputation in the community.
I plan on covering all four of these brands at some point, but the focus will be on the Canadian company today because they are how I got into the raw denim world in the first place. This will probably come to nobody’s surprise because Naked and Famous provides the first pair of raw/selvedge denim for many members of the community. This in itself is one of the reasons that many more seasoned denim heads scoff at the brand. However, I think a bigger reason is the more eccentric types of denim that the company makes.
Brandon Svarc and his team have made everything from cashmere, to silk, to reflective and even glow in the dark denim. Perhaps their crowning jewel of insanity, however, was their 32oz raw jeans that shrank to 36 oz when washed. These crotch destroying pairs of denim armor were actually made of the same threads that carpets are made out of and hold the record for the heaviest jeans ever made. A lot of these weird jean concoctions have given Naked and Famous a reputation for making gimmicks rather than actual workwear clothing. I will admit that this is true in some cases, but in fairness, their jeans actually do successfully do the things that they say they will. The reflective jeans are actually reflective, the glow in the dark jeans do glow in the dark.
What this has allowed the brand to do is transcend both the raw denim and more mainstream fashion market and success has followed. Of course, some of their jeans are basically gimmicks even if they do what they say they will on the box. I don’t have a problem with this personally because they do make a lot of fairly solid pairs of actual raw denim jeans. I owned a few pairs of N&F and other than the fact that I sized one of them completely wrong, I had a pretty good experience with them. For their price point, the jeans are decently well made in Canada and offer quite a lot of choice in terms of fit and fabric. That said, they are not going to be the most detailed in terms of construction. The stitching is good, but not as tight or beautiful as you will get from some one man brands or Japanese giants of the industry. They also omit the back pocket rivets.
The fabrics are of good quality as they are pretty much all milled in Japan. I owned pair of the cashmere blend, silk blend, and broken twill selvedge jeans. The broken twill were fine aside from the fact that I sized them too small and the fact that they faded extremely slowly for a pair of 100% cotton denim. The cashmere denim was in fact quite warm for its weight and soft, though it was itchy if a fiber ever got loose. The best pair was probably the silk denim. This pair had a unique silvery-blue color and were extremely soft and comfortable right out of the box. Like the cashmere denim, they did fade quite slowly, but seem to be more durable. I got a hole in the cashmere pair after only 3 months of actual wear and my brother has put at least 6 to 7 months of wear into the silk pair after I wore them for about a month and they are finally starting to fade, but still are holding up with no holes.
The one item from the brand that I still wear is a kimono fabric shirt. The fit is really quite nice for a standard dress shirt. They nailed the slim, but not constricting fit, arm length, and shirt tail length. It’s perfect for tucking in and it does look more formal than all of my other shirts from raw denim and workwear brands except for my RJB Oxford shirt. The fabric on this one is quite nice and is quite comfortable. The most interesting part of this shirt is that 3sixteen released a shirt in the exact same fabric with slightly nicer buttons for a much higher price. The Naked and Famous one was about $115 and the 3sixteen version was $175. The construction on the 3sixteen version was no better so even if their production costs are higher, it certainly is not worth it to the consumer.
This is where I give Naked and Famous credit. Their products are quite reasonably priced for the same quality as many US-made companies. The biggest strike against them in my book is the fact that the cashmere jeans ripped so quickly, but then again, it was not along any stitch/seem and the fabric probably was just not that strong. For all their gimmicks, the brand does manage to make a solid product. I probably won’t be buying anything new from them in the future, but I won’t be hating on them either… as long as they stop releasing super cringy youtube videos like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGg7dEtc7bs&t=25s At the end of the day, I understand why this brand does get so much hate. They really do not fit within the selvedge and workwear world or ‘community’ or whatever the hell you want to call all of us urban lumberjacks. That said, they do serve a certain market and serve it well. I do know that there are quite a lot of people who actually stick with the brand for the long term and they are quite popular on reddit’s raw denim board.
While many may not like the fact that they aren’t really a workwear style brand, it could very well benefit them in the long run. The raw denim trend has likely already hit its peak and while many of the high end staple brands like The Flat Head, Iron Heart, and Samurai will likely be fine thanks to the hardcore denimheads that have now been connected by the internet and other modern factors (something I will be touching on in the future), some of the more entry level brands may not survive. The entry level market will likely always exist, but a waning of new interest along with the shear number of entry-level brands could spell doom for many of them. Naked and Famous may avoid this issue simply by not being in the traditional raw denim market.
Depending on how popular raw denim continues to be, we could see Naked and Famous move further and further into the fashion market at which point, we won’t even have to discuss them on a blog like this which is pretty much exactly what I would want. They make a solid product and I don’t really have much against them, but I do believe that they are not really a raw denim brand and fit better in a more mainstream or streetwear market. They do make some raw denim, but they do not really fit into the category. To be clear, this does not mean that I think it’s because they are not worthy of being a raw denim brand. There are several brands that make inferior or overrated products that are raw denim brands. N&F makes good products and while they do make raw denim, they just don’t fully fit into the category as well any more just like APC. I will say that it will be interesting to see how this brand changes over time even if they completely fall out of the raw denim market. Whatever happens, I doubt I will ever buy anything else from them again, but I also won’t be selling that kimono shirt from them any time soon.