One Man Denim Brand Battle: Viapiana Custom Denim Review

It may surprise you to see a custom denim maker so high on my list after reading that I thought Ooe Yofukuten made the right decision by discontinuing their custom denim. To be honest, I am slightly surprised myself. The custom vs. non-custom battle is an interesting topic and it certainly is an important factor for the brand in question. However, there are many other notable traits about these jeans that I am very excited to discuss so let’s get into it!

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Today, I will be reviewing my custom pair of Viapiana jeans. Ben Viapiana is a Canadian who started his one man brand denim business while living in Thailand. He has since returned to the Great White North and has continued his business of making high quality, custom jeans, jackets, and even shirts. This brand had been on my radar for a while, but I never made a purchase due to the fact that something always has to grab my attention for me to be willing to spend money on denim. None of the indigo pairs that I saw ever really spoke to me, but I kept him on my radar due to the positive reviews that I had heard and the clearly stellar stitch work that I had seen on his jeans posted on Instagram. Eventually, I took a look on his website and saw that he had a breathtaking burgundy/red denim fabric available. Being that I am nearly as obsessed with the color burgundy as I am with Harry Potter, Parks and Recreation , and  Calvin and Hobbes, I sent a message to Ben in attempt to order a pair.

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burgundy and gold go together like wine and cheese

Communication was very clear and easy. I gave some specific requirements such as a cinch back and the measurements, but I also asked the maker to come up with some of his own ideas for other areas. This is something I do often with custom one man brands. Given their skill and experience, I often decide to trust them to make their own creative decisions with my orders and I am rarely disappointed. As the pictures show, I had no reason to be disappointed with this pair in terms of appointments and details.

Details don’t matter if the jeans themselves do not fit properly and I am happy to say that these do fit perfectly. Obviously, this is partly due to the fact that I have owned far too many pairs of jeans and therefore am quite confident with what measurements I prefer. Still, the maker has to actually follow my measurements and I have had issues with this in the past. Fortunately, there were no such issues here as the jeans measure exactly as I specified:

Waist: 35”

Front Rise: 12”

Rear Rise: 16.75”

Thigh: 13”

Knee: 10”

Hem: 9”

Inseam: 29”

These are pretty much ideal measurements for me, being essentially a straight fit that has a fairly high waist and comfortable, but not loose fit. However, commenting on the cut here means even less than with Roy because these were made to my specs.

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The fabric is another aspect that I must mention, but do not wish to go into exhaustive detail over due to the fact that it is a fabric I chose and is one of so many on offer. It is a 13oz sanforized fabric from Japan. I generally prefer unsanforized, but beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to colored denim. Speaking of which, the color is indeed the most noticeable part of the jeans. It is too bright to be burgundy, but too dark to simply be called red. I have therefore been describing the color as ‘cherry.’ While I would have preferred more of a true burgundy, the rich color present makes this the best pair of dark red/burgundy trousers I have ever owned (and I’ve owned 5.)

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As with any truly great pair of jeans, the details are where the magic is. The cinch back is beautifully shaped and is certainly one of my favorite cinch back designs I have ever seen.  Hidden rivets are present on the back pockets and there are least 3 different thread colors, which is impressive on a tonal pair of jeans. The back pockets deserve attention because while they are not lined, they do have a very simple, but uniquely beautiful stitch. It involves one line across the bottom third of the pocket and a three leaf symbol in the outer corner of each pocket. Back pocket arcs are so controversial that many brands simply forgo them, but I am happy to see this unobtrusive, but creative design that really helps the jeans stand out. In addition to this, there is a custom fabric patch on the inside of the left pocket which is a very cool detail.

DSCF0119Cinch backs make me happy

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DSCF0120This may be my favorite back pocket stitch design 

There is another fabric patch on the inside of the waistband as well as a simple, but well executed rear patch made from relatively thick leather.  Further branding is present on the pocket bags with some very cool patches stitched onto both front pockets. Speaking of which, the pocket bag fabric is a nice and thick ecru/off white material that feels quite durable. Without question, the coolest inside detail is the selvedge fly. This is not only great for durability, but it is something that is quite rare to see and looks ace thanks to the yellow selvedge line matching with the brass hardware. While not custom, the brass hardware used is quite nice and was a great choice from Ben to work with the dark red denim.

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It is nice to see that the coin pocket has visible selvedge and that the belt loops are tucked into the waistband. However, the show stopping feature is the front pocket design. The elegantly curved shape not only looks beautiful, but it also is unique even among abnormal pocket designs, most of which are more angular and straight. Superior to the visual candy of this design is the fact that this design is quite practical. Most jeans, especially raw jeans for some reason, have very tight front pockets to the point that it is quite difficult for me to remove items from them when sitting or even standing at times. The shape of these pockets means that they are the most easily accessible front pockets of any jeans that I have owned. While not as smoothly accessible as most chino pockets, it is still a welcome improvement from most 5 pocket jeans.

DSCF0107I adore these front pockets

To top the positives off, the stitch work itself is incredible. While difficult to see from a distance due to the tonal color of the threads, upon closer inspection, it is revealed that Viapiana really knows how to stitch jeans properly. Everything is tight, neat, and straight with no wonky stitches present. In fact, the only less than perfect areas are the two inside pockets which are still better stitched than my Roy’s were.  The stitches are not as dense as other brands such as Roy or RJB, but I would still put these up there with the very best in terms of neat construction. While not possessing that utter perfection in some areas like Roy, these Canadian jeans are more consistently well-made than the pair from Oakland. For example, there are no loose threads at all while the Roy jeans had many of these on one of the leg inseams and as mentioned before, the inside front pocket stitching is slightly better on these. I am not saying that one pair is better than the other, but the fact that these jeans stack up so well against the most famous one man denim brand of all time means that they really are quite impressive.

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With this pair of denim being so well made and containing such incredible details, the question of custom is one that causes me to ponder. As mentioned near the start of this article, I did not see a pair of Viapiana jeans that grabbed my attention until I noticed that he had a specific color of fabric that I wanted. This perfectly shows the positive and negative aspects of being a custom denim maker. Because he does not do runs or standard models, it is harder for Ben’s jeans to specifically stand out and have characteristics that define his products. Roy’s shell stitching, Ooe Yofukuten’s OA02 cut, Samurai and Iron Heart’s heavy denim, PBJ’s slubby texture, and Stevenson Overall’s single needle stitching and unique rear pockets are all traits that are instantly recognizable to denim heads. While Viapiana jeans offer many incredible options and features, none of them are standardized to the point of making his brand be associated with certain traits and qualities apart from his gorgeous rear pocket stitch and the fact that his jeans are made to the highest standard.

DSCF0131selvedge fly goodness

DSCF0135the buttonholes are beautifully stitched

On the other hand, he can pretty much do anything with a pair of jeans and do it extremely well. He can make a killer selvedge fly, a sweet cinch back, some extremely unique front pockets, beautiful bar tacks or rear pocket rivets (hidden or visible), several rear pocket patterns, any size or fit, triple stitching, single needle stitching, and so much more. He has a wealth of choices available when it comes to fabric, thread colors, and hardware. Perhaps most importantly, he can make your jeans to exactly the right size that you want. I do love the fact that I was able to order such an exemplary pair of custom jeans, but I can’t help but wonder if Viapiana’s name would be more well-known and revered if he decided to implement some of these amazing features in standard lines of jeans. On the other hand, this would likely only work if he were able to get his own exclusive fabric to utilize.

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Of course, he may have no interest in doing this, but I do think it would be cool to see as the pre-made jeans he has released before do not fit into the category I have outlined above. What is more, he has been dabbling in leather jackets lately so maybe he will move in a different direction than where Ooe Yofukuten moved. Either way, these jeans are absolutely amazing. I love them and are one of my favorite pairs, despite them not being worn as consistently as indigo jeans. $345 USD may seem like a lot of money, but considering what you are getting, it is absolutely a fair price. Viapiana lands in second place on my personal one man brand list because I not only was able to receive exactly what I wanted in a pair of custom jeans, but also because of how the construction exceeded my high expectations and the fact that some of the design features present are unique and very well thought out.

DSCF0332This color goes well with black…

DSCF2161…and with brown boots

Check out these incredible jeans at http://www.viapiana.ca/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ben_viapiana/ . Stay tuned for the next article that will cover my favorite one man denim brand. No prizes for guessing who it is.

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