Let ’Em Rip

Acne, J Brand, Levi'sPhoto: Danny Kim

The Contenders
• Acne Hex DC jeans, $249
•J.Brand mid-rise straight-leg jeans, $158
•Levi’s Demi Curve jeans, $69.50

It’s roughly four times as expensive to produce jeans in the U.S. as it is in Asia, says Jeffrey Silberman, the head of F.I.T.’s textile-development and marketing department. The Levi’s were made in Cambodia, the J.Brands in California, and the Acne in Albania. “I’d guess that Acne is making a lot of money,” he says.

Composition and Weave
All three pairs were a 3/1 twill (a standard diagonal weaving pattern for denim) and were composed of 98 percent cotton and 2 percent spandex or elastane.

Fabric Weight
The standard for denim is between nine and fourteen ounces per square yard, with heavier fabrics making for stiffer jeans.
Acne: 10 oz. per square yard
J.Brand: 13 1/4 oz. per square yard
Levi’s: 12 oz. per square yard

Seam Slippage
How much force the backside seam withstands until it rips.
Acne: 84 lbs. of force
J.Brand: 54 lbs. of force
Levi’s: 142 lbs. of force

Tensile Strength
How much force a piece of fabric withstands until it rips. Jeans use a different set of yarns for the warp (those running up and down the loom) and the filling (those that run across). We measured the strength of both.

Acne: 177 lbs. of force
J.Brand: 125 lbs. of force
Levi’s:142 lbs. of force

Acne: 66 lbs. of force
J.Brand: 41 lbs. of force
Levi’s: 87 lbs. of force

Thread Count
Generally, the higher the count, the stronger the fabric.
Acne: 74warp yarns by 51 filling yarns per inch
J.Brand: 85warp yarns by 52 filling yarns per inch
Levi’s78 warp yarns by 58 filling yarns per inch

Abrasion Testing
Though all “were really strong and durable,” says Sean Cormier, professor of quality assurance at F.I.T., after 15,000 cycles, the J.Brand pair showed the most wear and the Levi’s the least. “I’d say J.Brand would be the first to break.”


J.Brand performed the worst of the three. It had the lowest-filling tensile strength and the lowest seam strength, which was curious because it was also the heaviest-weight fabric and had a higher thread count.”

“For being the lightest-weight fabric, the Acne jeans really performed well. Now, did it perform like a $250 jean? There were no gold-plated threads, let’s put it that way. But you’re likely paying more for fit and color than performance at this price point.”

Levi’s held up the best, pairing good strength throughout with a high thread count.”

Let ’Em Rip