Make Your Own Jeans dot Com (makeyourownjeans.com) is a company that will allow you to type in your measurements in a form, and get the company to make them for you. They then send the jeans back to you in the mail. If you have a pair that fits you perfectly, they also offer a 'clone my jeans' option - you just send your beloved pair to them, they make accurate measurements, and replicate them exactly.

The Quest for the Perfect Pair of Jeans

When I was 3, I started wearing jeans. I continued doing that until I was 16, when I abruptly decided that I hated jeans. I guess the main problem was that I was growing quickly. The last pair of jeans I bought before I stopped buying them was 28 waist, 32 inseam, I think. Any idea how hard it is to find those?

Anyway, I hated them, and I started wearing chinos, cords, or trousers from suits bought from charity shops. Anything, really, to avoid jeans. For 8 years or so, I never wore the damn things again, and I never missed them. Then, last year, I had to get out of the office of the company I was working for at the time for a bit. It was a stressful day, and I hadn't taken my 1 hour lunch-break for about 3 months, so I decided to make a bee-line for the nearest shopping centre and have a look-about.

I walked into random shops, and suddenly realised that I hadn't been in any clothes shops for a while - I had been using the same wardrobe of trousers for a while, and ordered everything else off the internet. Then, completely on a whim, I bought two pair of Head jeans. I tried both in the fitting room, and sorta-kinda liked them. Over time, it transpired that one of the pairs totally didn't fit, and the other one was a Perfect fit. Seriously perfect. I loved those jeans. But of course, I wore them a lot, and wore them out within 7 months.

Ever since, the chase has been on for a pair that will fit me properly, and that make me look good. It's a tall order, I know.

Anyway, a friend of mine stumbled across makeyourownjeans.com, and suggested I give it a try.

Ordering the jeans

Armed with a tape-measure and the instructions on the website, I went about the somewhat cumbersome task to measure myself, and I entered all the information into the boxes provided. From there on, you select what fit you want, what kind of cut, what type of jeans material, and various other options. If you know exactly what you want, you can give more measurements, but if you aren't too steady on the 'ole measuring or sowing, you can just give the basics, and they figure out the rest.

Personally, I ordered one pair of jeans exactly to their recommendations, and one with a slightly looser fit and longer leg length.

The company quotes delivery time as 2-3 weeks. I placed my order on September 20th and took delivery of my package exactly a month later - on October 20th. I'm not sure if they just had a large workload, or if the mail was slow, but I remain relatively unimpressed. I mean, I don't mind waiting 5 weeks for custom-made clothes, but I don't like waiting 2 weeks longer than expected. (to their defence, they now quote 2-5 weeks delivery time)

Price-wise, the jeans were on par with a pair of medium-famous brand jeans (US$39.00 per pair). The postage means that the price gets bumped into Levi's and Diesel territory, though: As the factory is based in India, shipping costs are relatively high (US$27). They take payment via PayPal, which offers a layer of safety against the products never showing up etc.

The result

I've just tried on both pair of jeans. On first impression, both pairs of jeans seem to be a perfect fit around my hips (A little tight, but it'll stretch out, like a good pair of jeans should), tight around my bum, and loose enough for my crotch. Both pairs show off my bottom in a suitable fashion, and fit comfortably.

I'm not overly convinced about the length of the jeans though. If they are pre-washed (I think they are, but I'm not convinced), they will be of adequate length to not look ridiculous, but I really prefer my jeans to hang on the ground at the back of my shoes. The pair I specced to be an inch longer than the other seems to be perfect, and the pair following Make Your Own Jeans' recommendations are a little, eensy bit on the short side. On the other hand, I like wearing my jeans quite low, so there's a possibility the fit will become better over time, as the waistband stretches a little.

Quality-wise, there's no failing either pair of jeans. The material is of top quality, the stitching is precise and of good quality as well, and the buttons, rivets and belt hoops are all attached the way you'd expect from a good pair of jeans

The Verdict

It's a pricy exercise - $105 (£56) for two pairs of jeans is not exactly bargain bin, but on the other hand, these are made exactly to my specifications. Despite the high shipping price and slow shipping speed failures, the quality of the product is impeccable.

The web-site saves your preferences and past orders, so after wearing the jeans for a couple of months, I imagine I'll know which measurements need changing to make the Perfect Pair of Jeans. The ones I just took delivery of are pretty close, but not quite there. I wouldn't hesitate to use makeyourownjeans.com again, though, in the next step of my Quest.

Another perspective

I'm tall. Those of you have met me know that this is an understatement - I'm probably the tallest person that you know - and accordingly, I have a hard time finding clothes that fit without paying a significant amount over the retail price of normally sized clothing. When a pair of slacks that fit cost $50, you start to consider other options.

As a result, I've been buying clothes online for quite a while. Though I drooled over the amazing selection of sizes offered by internet clothing retailers in the late 90s, before they realized that they couldn't make much more money than by just offering a standard range, I never purchased anything from them. Most of the clothing that I've purchased in the past couple years has come from eBay. The items have all been new, but purchased there because it's easier to find what I need and cheaper than buying through the usual retail outlets.

When I read Sharq's review of this business, my heart leapt. Though I'd heard about various businesses in Hong Kong, India, and Thailand that offer cheap custom suits, most of them lack an internet presence or require measurements and fittings by tailors stateside, which drives up the cost. Make your own jeans seemed to be what I needed. Though his review didn't say anything about suits or dress shirts, it seemed possible that they might be willing to make such things. Their website revealed a nice array of clothing at reasonable prices. Jeans, of course, but also slacks, shirts, and suits in linen, wool, and corduroy.

When my wife informed me that an event we would be attending in a few months would probably require a black suit, I decided that it was time to act. I ordered a black pinstriped single-breasted three button suit and three shirts. My initial plan had been for a single shirt, but at the price, $22 each, I couldn't resist.

The total for the order came to $254 - $150 for the suit, three long-sleeved dress shirts at $22 each, and $38 for shipping. At the time of my order, total production and delivery time was quoted as 4-6 weeks. The package arrived at my door two weeks after the date I placed my order.

Delivery

The clothing was packaged carefully, with each item placed in a clear plastic bag, of similar quality to what is used for such things in a retail store. The shirts were folded carefully, as was the suit. All items had high quality hang tags, with my order number on them. Each item also included a makeyourownjeans.com keychain. The whole order was double-bagged to prevent damage during shipping. The package was shipped UPS second day air from an address in New York City.

The fit of the suit and shirts was extremely satisfying - it felt so good to find clothes that were both long enough and yet not baggy.

Fit

As Sharq states above, numerous measurements are taken so that the tailors can provide the proper fit. This can sometimes be difficult when one does not have a perfectly fitting garment to take the measurements from. The fit of the shoulders could be a bit better, but this is likely due to the measurements that I provided - where, exactly, does the shoulder end and the sleeve begin? Perhaps they could provide some way to see this on their website, or perhaps it is something that you just have to know where it is to be able to see it. Overall, the fit of the suit was excellent. This order was a learning experience, and now that I can see how this suit fits, I'll be able to tweak the measurements a bit for the next order, for an even better fit.

The fit of the shirts was also quite good. The shirt cuffs could benefit from a little bit more space, but this seems to be due to my measurements - I measured for the cuff a bit higher than I should have.

Quality

The shirts come with two buttons on the cuff, with an additional buttonhole if you wish to remove the buttons and use cufflinks. The pocket is matched perfectly with the rest of the material. The stitching is very good - there are a couple small imperfections, but none that can be noticed unless you really try to see them - I don't think it would be worthwhile for them to spend more time (and money) to improve the quality here. The cloth, 100% cotton, is excellent. On the website, the swatches make the material look like what one might expect in a casual shirt, but the material as delivered looks much better - this is definitely a dress shirt. At $22 each, I will be buying several more, even though this means that I will have to start ironing my shirts again, that most loathed and dreaded of tasks.

The fit and design of the suit are excellent, though I do have a few issues. The lapel buttonhole was just a piece of thick thread, knotted at both ends. I will have to have a local tailor replace this with an actual buttonhole. The cuffs were listed as having four buttons - they were delivered with three. I ordered the jacket with a single vent, but received it with two. I didn't bring this up with them, as I couldn't remember which way I had ordered it, but my order email reveals that I had ordered it with a single vent. This isn't a huge issue, but I feel the need to mention it. Additionally, there are no buttonholes. I don't expect functional buttonholes at this price point, but it would look much better with non-functional ones, and it is generally assumed that these would come standard. I emailed them, noting these problems, and recieved the following response, less than twelve hours later:

Can we send the buttons with your next order because courier cost is expensive. We have noted your suggettions, infact you will be able to choose the number of buttons and cuff type from each product page. If any other suggesttions do let us know, we will implement it.
The website had been updated by the time that I recieved the email, and they now have functional buttoning cuffs included in the price of the suit, if you are so inclined. With these changes, I feel that the suit represents an excellent value.

Conclusion

Though there are some minor issues with some of the products, as I have outlined above, makeyourownjeans.com offers an excellent product at a very reasonable price - I plan to order from them again in the near future. The short sleeved dress shirts look attractive, and I do need another pair or two of slacks. Oh, and a sport coat might be nice...

Note: some photographs of the aforementioned suit and shirts can be seen at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbustapeck/sets/72157600772039603/detail/

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