One Man Denim Brand Battle: Roy Big Bro 2 Jeans Review

The term ‘living legend’ is one that is often overused. In the world of raw denim and heritage work wear, there are many skilled designers and craftsmen that are rightfully revered, but only one who could possibly live up to this title. Roy Slaper is indeed a living legend not simply because he supposedly crafts some of the best denim jeans ever made, but because of the mystique surrounding him and the fact that he is considered to be the best jeans maker of all time by so many people. There is an important distinction between someone who is a legend and someone who is truly great. While it is possible for someone to fit into both categories, there is no question at all that Mr. Slaper fits into the first.

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In fact, such is Roy’s fame and prestige among the general denim population that I specifically avoided buying a pair of his jeans for several years because I was so annoyed by the hype. In my mind, there was no way that his products could be as good as everyone said they were. Despite him only being a one man brand who does not market himself, his releases sell out faster than tickets to a Rolling Stones concert. Alas, I did eventually cave around a year ago when the one pair of Roy jeans that I truly enjoyed the design of came up for sale in my size in brand new, unsoaked condition on Grailed. Having now spent a substantial amount of time with them and worn them on many occasions, I believe that I can comment on them intelligently.

My Roy Big Bro 2 jeans are a size 33 and measure as follows:

Waist: 34”

Front Rise: 11.5”

Back Rise: 15.75”

Thigh: 12.5”

Knee: 9.5”

Hem: 8.5”

Length: 29”

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These are a pretty nice fit, though certainly not my absolute favorite. It is somewhere in between a slim fit and a more traditional classic straight fit. As mentioned in my previous article on Ooe Yofuketen, I have moved away from slimmer, tapered fits and I only keep these because they are just wide enough to not feel like a true slim fit on me. The Ooe OA02 cut was definitely a better slim fit, but that’s exactly why I stopped wearing them. With that said, I do like this cut overall and appreciate that it has a decently high rise even though it is not as high as I would like. Roy himself says that jeans are a poor fitting garment by design which makes over-analyzing his fits unnecessary, especially considering the fact that he has no standard fit and changes them up often.

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DSCF9444The fit is neither truly slim, nor classic and straight

While the fit is perfectly adequate, the denim itself is a little lackluster for such a lauded pair of leg coverings. The current trend is to glorify Cone Mills denim in response to their recent closure, but in my opinion, this constant stream of remorse and praise is starting to sound like a Christian rock song. While Cone did not make bad denim, they certainly paled in comparison to the Japanese and even the Italians when it came to innovating and producing characterful denim that was artful in and of itself. The only interesting part of this denim is the fact that it is made with Roy’s exclusive black seed denim which at least makes it more interesting than the average Cone fabric. However, even with that said I have seen Roy jeans heavily faded and I must say that they have never once impressed me in any way. In my eyes, they fail to achieve interesting texture, high contrast fades, or subtle, but beautiful vintage fades. Just as Bud Light is a beer that people happen to drink and Belgium is a country that just so happens to exist, this black seed denim is a fabric that happens to fade.

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DSCF1389The denim itself is forgettable to me, though I love how the belt loop is lined up with the seam stitching

It is at this point that I must discuss the details and stitch work of this pair of jeans and if you have read many of my reviews, the fact that I have been quite negative so far means that you may be surprised to read the upcoming paragraphs. However, if you have watched Jeremy Clarkson review a car even once, you will know exactly what is coming.*That’s right Top Gear/Grand Tour fans, this pair of Roy jeans is like that BMW E60 M5 that Jeremy reviewed several years ago. Despite the lackluster denim and the neither here nor there fit, I absolutely love this pair of jeans. In fact, these jeans are so utterly incredible that Roy may just live up to the hype. Let’s find out why.

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The details of these jeans are a master class in subtle brilliance. The shape of the rear pockets are nothing too crazy, but their square shape with rounded ends certainly help them stand out from the crowd while not feeling over-designed. Adding to this are the visible back pocket rivets. This is the reason that I specifically wanted this pair of Roys above any others and the real genius is the fact that these rivets would probably look silly on normal back pockets, but look absolutely right on these. In addition, these pockets are lined which is a nice touch that I wish more brands would implement. In typical Roy fashion, the patch is well designed and has a welcomed humorous touch.

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DSCF1388I truly love the details presented here

The inside of the jeans contains is oozing with even more delicious details. The pocket bags are a wonderfully thick and substantial while being triple stitched on and containing Roy’s beautifully chainstitched signature on one of them. Other than the back pockets and exposed rivets, my personal favorite detail has to be the shell stitching that Roy is known to use for the fly and pocket bags. This is a gorgeous form of stitching and really adds a recognizable and beautiful look to the inside of the jeans.

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DSCF1395Beautiful chain and shell stitching galore!

As enjoyable as many of the details such as the raised belt loops are, the real reason that I love this pair of jeans is the stitching. Anyone who has read all of my reviews or many of my posts on other forums will know that stitching is something that I care very deeply about. I am an absolute stickler for stitch quality as it is one of the most telling signs of craftsmanship and effort put into a product. In jeans, I have failed to notice any brands that have truly stood out above the pack in terms of stitch quality as I have for leather jackets, wallets, and boots… until this pair. I really thought people were crazy when they said that Roy made the best jeans in the world, but as it turns out they were on to something. It comes across fairly well in the pics, but is undeniable in person- these are the best stitched jeans in the world. By far, they are the most neatly stitched jeans that I have ever seen or owned in my life.

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DSCF1378Even after being soaked, the stitching is generally neater than high end sanforized jeans

In most areas, Roy’s stitches are tight, laser straight, and have a very high stitch count. What must be remembered is that these jeans have been hot soaked twice, making the neatness of the needle work even more impressive. In a couple of places, it is less than perfect (specifically on the pocket bags and at a couple of spots where the seams join on the outside), but in no area is it below the work of other high end brands and there are no loose or wonky stitches. The only complaint I have is the massive amount of loose threads present on one of the legs’ inseam while the other leg is spotless. The bar tacks are nicely done and the button hole stitches are the tightest and cleanest I have ever seen. One of the rumors about Roy that adds to his mystique is that he makes jeans because he loves working with sewing machines. I have no idea if this is true, but it would make sense given the most exemplary characteristic of these jeans.

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DSCF1402These loose threads are a little out of place compared to the rest of the garment

Overall, I do absolutely love this pair of Big Bro 2’s and Roy is not only a legend in the denim world, he is indeed truly great at what he does. Roy’s jeans almost lived up to the hype. The truth is, however, that nothing can live up to hype surrounding them.  Unlike what it seems like from what others say, they do not have the ability to make Amy Schumer funny or Dasani water taste good. As perfect as the stitching is in some places, it is not perfect everywhere and there are some aspects that are less-than-stellar. This is perfectly fine. I am in no way disappointed by them and in fact like them far more than I expected to. It is very clear that Roy Slaper is very passionate and talented with his denim craft and I am honored to own a pair of his incredible jeans. He is definitely one of the best denim makers in the world and is a shining example of why one man brands are so awesome.

The fact that there are still two one man brands left in this series means that there are at least two denim brands that I personally prefer to Roy, but as I said, I absolutely put his jeans up there with the very best. While I do believe that there is no best denim brand, when I hear or see someone posit that Roy’s jeans are the pinnacle of the denim world, I will now understand why they are saying so and unlike in similar situations with Red Wing, I will not argue. If that doesn’t tell you that I admire and respect Roy’s talent and products, I don’t know what will.

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You can buy Roy’s incredible jeans on his website here: http://www.roydenim.com/

Follow him on Instagram to find out what and when he is making next: https://www.instagram.com/roy.stuff/

 

 

*The Jeremy Clarkson method of reviewing cars involves listing all the positive or negative aspects of the car first so the viewer will think that he either emphatically loves or hates the car and then lists all the opposite aspects, concluding with the opposite opinion that he sets up in the beginning. This is meant to create drama and surprise the viewer and create a sense of nuance and depth in his reviews and as much as I do find him funny and entertaining, I must say that it’s criminal how often he gets away with using this method.

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