The 30-Dollar Raw Denim Experiment: Pair #1

I learned a long time ago — having spent years of frustration with awkward fits, run-away threads, and unsightly rips — that it was well worth the money to spend a few more dollars on a pair of good denim. While I still cannot justify dropping an extra 20 dollars on a t-shirt because it has a brand’s name emblazoned on it, I will dig deeper into my pockets to procure a quality pair of denim. On many occasions, my friends and family have scoffed at the price tags on some of my jeans, but I rest assured knowing that the extra money will not have gone to waste.

That said, I enjoy a good deal as much as anyone else, and I know it isn’t always possible or reasonable to spend a few hundred dollars on a pair of denim. We’ve presented a rundown on some great jeans under a hundred dollars, and you can be sure that you’ll find a solid pair if one of our recommendations happens to catch your eye.

But what about significantly cheaper denim, denim maybe costing below 50 dollars for a pair? Here begins a regular column that explores what kind of raw denim you can get for less than the price of a decent meal. I will be spending the coming months testing out new pairs of raw denim I’ve found, and I’ll give you all the dirty details about what you can expect to get for much less cash.

The Experiment

So we’re clear from the get-go – all of the jeans featured in this column retail for more than 30 bucks; they’ve all been marked down from their original prices, sometimes significantly. A 30-dollar pair of raw denim is not an every-day occurrence at all: it took some shopping around and some luck to procure such inexpensive jeans.

I will be alternating between two pairs every other day, so each pair will see 3 to 4 wears a week, but I’ll review one pair at a time. With each pair, I’ll give you a full description of the details of the denim and construction (along with a full set of pictures), my impression of the appearance, fit, and functionality, what I’ve put the denim through in terms of activities, and an update on how the pair is coming along in more general terms.

What I will not give you until the end of each pair’s tenure is brand and model. Some of you may be able to guess from the photos and descriptions, and you’re free to take a shot at nailing down the exact pair. But I want to avoid any brand-bias and give reviews based solely upon the jeans themselves rather than our preconceived prejudices regarding brand. We all have our favourite pairs and brands, myself included. But how do we discover different denim if we stick to the same old thing?

That all said, here it is: The 30-Dollar Raw Denim Experiment.

Pair One

Front and Back Views of Denim #1

I picked up this pair at a local surf shop. I saw them folded in a stack with a bunch of other denim, and could tell right away that it was raw from the colouring and fabric. It was the last pair they had; I picked them up and was immediately pleased with the crisp feel of the denim, though it was pretty soft as far as raw denim goes.


  • Weight: Unknown
  • Material: 98% cotton, 2% spandex sanforized red-line selvedge denim
  • Fit: Slim straight: sits just below the waist; slim fitting with straight leg
  • Retail Price: $120.00
  • Sale Price: $29.97

Details of Pair #1 of Under $30 Raw Denim


Details of Pair #1 of Under $30 Raw Denim

As you can see, they’ve added 2% spandex to the denim, which accounts for the softer feeling of the hand. When I tried them on there was a noticeable difference between these and other pairs of raw denim I’ve had my legs in, the clearest different being that it wasn’t a total struggle to pull them on and button them up. The spandex is to thank for the easier, stretchier fit, but I do wonder how it will affect the fades. The creases shouldn’t be quite as sharp as with 100% cotton, but only time will tell.

While the comfort is a definite plus, my favourite part of this pair is the attention to detail: you can see the clean double red selvedge line; the grey external stitching throughout which blends with the denim to highlight the denim itself; the graphics on the inner lining; the selvedge line on the fly; the black rivets and buttons.  All this, and the fit is true-to-size.

Stay tuned in the next couple months for updates on the fades and aging.  Until then, keep your eyes peeled for deals: they’re out there!

Jon Dalley

Jon is crazy about books, music, movies, motorcycles, and, of course, raw denim. He contends that the best method of breaking in a pair of raw denim is to ride a Triumph Bonneville T100 hard and often. Check out his Instagram with the handle RawrJonD.

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  • Rick

    This is an insult to denim and should not even be on this website. take it down immediately.

    • Muhammad

      Why do you get worked up over material obsessions my brother, Allah can help deliver you from your pain and suffering. He is the one that will save the world on Judgment Day.

      • Rick

        Shut up! you know nothing about denim!

        • Muhammad

          It is said that Islam is the denim of all the religions.

          • Rick

            Who the hell ever said that?

          • Syamsudin Binti Mati Muda


      • Devan Prithipaul

        If the objective is to get over material obsessions then Theravada Buddhism is probably a better fit. Or, if you are a devout Hindu who has read the Vedas (Samaveda) you could choose Hinduism as a religion which has a “clear” message of non-materialsm.


          theravada Buddhism is the raw denim of religions because you have to do all the work. islam is like dad jeans.


          theravada Buddhism is the raw denim of religions because you have to do all the work.

    • Grandier

      or you can just ignore it and carry on with your daily life and not reading this article ever again.

      taking it down is too much hassle, so could you just ignore it please? cool, thanks.

    • pRICK

      or you could go fuck yourself!

  • Grandier

    just wondering: when you were out there looking for this budget raw denim, do you only look for the ones with selvedge lining, or all kind of jeans be it selvedge or non-selvedge as long as it’s raw? i’m just curious, because personally, i’ve come across a lot of non-selvedge raw denim and admittedly, i prefer the selvedge because i find it better looking although the some of the non-selvedge has nice fabric.

  • TheRacingLine

    I like the article, it’s well written and the description of the denim is great. But at the end of the day is the writer not actually reviewing a $120 pair or raw denim jeans?! They weren’t low cost jeans in the first place, it’s only because of a sale that you’ve been able to pick them up for $30, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise there are some decent design touches.
    The way this article reads it would seem a better idea to have a cap on the maximum price of denim in the first instance, ie $60, and review a pair on their own merit. Because, for example, in this format you could luck into buying a great pair of Edwin’s that fit perfectly but had been reduced somewhere, and review them as ‘budget’ jeans when they clearly are not.

    • Vinyl Scratch

      Now I could be wrong on this, but I believe that these jeans were most likely found at a surf shop chain store, like a Pac Sun for instance (which would make sense if they are indeed Quiksilver jeans as noted by moobar below). If that were the case, it’s very likely that they are on sale across all branches of said store, and thus would be near impossible to find for the original price anymore. If that’s the case, I find the rationalization for this article justified, because finding them for $30 becomes much more probable than finding them for $120. In the case of your Edwin example, however, such a scenario would be a rarity and the sale a “lucky treasure,” making it an ill-fit for an article such as this one.

      Furthermore, if these are indeed Quiksilver jeans and moobar’s recollection of finding them at the Rack for $30 rings true (which seems plausible as I have seen much discounted Quiksilver denim at the Rack myself), then the point of justification is only furthered, as the proposed surf store would not be the only chain selling them for the discounted price.

      Granted, this is contingent upon a lot of assumptions being made here, albeit they are ones that I believe are reasonable and hold merit.


        its also this dudes article. he can name it whatever he wants. its not like someone else named it and hes not following the guidelines.

  • moobar

    I saw those at the Rack on sale for $30 this past weekend – they are the Quicksilver premium collection jeans. I doubt you could find them at full price.

    • Vinyl Scratch

      That’s a pretty solid guess right there, I think you may have nailed it. =)

    • BillygoatsGruff312

      You nailed it. They’re selling them on ebay for $49.

  • Bigred0818

    Silly article. These are $120 denim, not $30 denim. They’re the same as Edwin, APC, Nudies. They’re probably Naked and Famous having that ghastly 2% spandex in them, making them a pair of denim leggings. Bleugh!

  • LM

    American Eagle Rigid in the Slim-Straight caught, on sale for $30 at AE

    • Vinyl Scratch

      Not likely if they were found at a surf shop; AE hardly ever ventures out of their own established stores. And besides, AE has a distinctive back-pocket stitching that I have yet to see omitted on a pair of their jeans.

  • shelby

    Pointless if you dont include the brand.

  • model citizen

    Don’t understand all the hate over this. I agree that the title is a little misleading since these were purchased at a 75% discount but it’s still an interesting idea. After all, depending on the long tern quality of the jeans being reviewed, this might prove to be further proof that real quality demands a certain price point. If they end up being durable and fading well that would also be interesting. I don’t plan to go out try and buy these jeans, but if Jon is willing to dedicate this much time to questionable denim for the sake of documenting it for us, how can you be mad at that? I personally find this a lot more intriguing than a good portion of the articles here. It’s not like he’s trying to say that there’s no reason to pay more money than he did, he’s just curious what will happen. I would be interested to see what a pair of gap raws would look like after long term wear just out of curiosity, even though I know they’re shitty and would never by them.

  • tlo

    11 oz

  • double rrl guy

    And next please the 15-20Euro Ralph Lauren Double RRL Selvedge Jeans from every Ralph Lauren Outletstore.

  • Kevin

    “a few more dollars” as in an extra $200 haha

  • Jeff
  • Enoch

    Its 11oz denim

  • dd

    there is no raw selvedge denim available for 30$. sorry this is a fact. selvedge fabric width is around 80cm. regular denim fabric around 160cm, so you`ll see double. means the fabric usage is doubled, too.
    but if you found selvedge denims for 30$ regular price please tell me the brand and where to buy…..

  • hans

    They are actually for sale right now at the quicksilver website for 59…Only size 30 on stock. And I agree, these jeans are Quicksilver which means they have some quality..

  • Sam

    I’ve bought a pair of almost new Jean Shop denim jeans for $30 at a consignment store…that’s $30 too 😀