Despite a return-to-the-office market filled with workleisure clothing, jeans are still very much a thing. It’s difficult for a staple to go out of style, but the desire to reach for a pair of potentially constricting, form-fitting, elastic-waist-lacking pants has been on the “no thanks” list for a while. Now, though, denim brands have several things going for them: new trend-driven silhouettes, new consumer priorities (think: comfort and sizing), and the opportunity to emphasize new conscientious practices for a more eco-minded customer.
Want a new pair but don’t know where to begin? Here are some of our favorite new (and updated) brands for fall.
California heritage-inspired brand Rails recently launched its first denim collection. In four classic fits (plus jackets and two denim skirts), the new jeans are designed using soft, sustainably made organic cotton, with each sale contributing a year of safe water access to one individual through global nonprofit Water.org. We like the light-stretch Larchmont, a high-waist, ankle-grazing skinny, and the Melrose, a button-fly, slim straight-leg made with 100% cotton.
Maggie Winter and Max Bonbrest’s AYR—meaning All Year Round—wants to be a guaranteed go-to. The brand’s Bomb Pop jean—a kick-flare with just the right amount of stretch—is a Recommender favorite. And the Must, a navel-high wide-leg, is on the wish list. You’ll find a range of inseam lengths for several styles (including the Bomb Pop and super-skinny Riser), which makes finding the ideal fit easy, whether your legs run short or long.
Warp + Weft
Denim notoriously takes an outrageous number of gallons of water to manufacture—Warp + Weft claims to use just 10 per pair. Founder Sarah Ahmed, who also leads her family’s luxury denim brand, DL1961, creates simple, stylish jeans for affordable prices (starting at $98) and designed for sizes 00 to 24 for women, and up to size-48 waist for men. We’re fans of the stylish full-length NCE Wide Leg and the PHL Slim Bootcut, a perfectly modern take on the flare with exposed button fly and patch pockets.
Reformation and Grlfrnd Denim alumnus Jordan Nodarse makes timeless, climate-neutral jeans that look like that perfect pair you’re always scouring thrift stores to find. Boyish leans on eco-conscious distressing techniques and Earth-friendly and upcycled materials. We love the Mikey, a stretchy, body-grazing high-rise, and the casual, straight Ziggy in a clean, washed black the company calls Space Odyssey, with a full 32-inch inseam.
With Universal Standard’s Fit Liberty program, you can trade in pieces for a size up or down within a year of the purchase date. This applies to selections of the brand’s denim collection, with sizes ranging from 00 to 40; a range of inseams and rises; and curve, tall, and petite fits. We like the Seine high-rise skinny for a comfortable, like-a-glove stretch that doesn’t bag out by the end of the day, and the Hana Patchwork Jean, from the brand’s collaboration with British luxury designer Erdem.
Madewell was a tried-and-true favorite throughout quarantine, and for fall the brand has expanded its vast denim library’s washes and fits. We’re interested in the Perfect Vintage Straight—a narrower, hip-hugging version of the regular Perfect Vintage Jeans—and the Classic Straight Selvedge, with a built-in exaggerated cuff for extra interest. In August, the company launched Madewell Forever, a platform of pre-loved garments, with Thredup. Customers can snag gently loved Madewell jeans at a discount (under $50), and/or donate their own for $20 off a new pair.
Fast Company’s Recommender section is dedicated to surfacing innovative products, services, and brands that are changing how we live and work. Every item that we write about is independently selected by our editors and, whenever possible, tested and reviewed. Fast Company may receive revenue from some links in our stories; however, all selections are based on our editorial judgment.