American-Made Denim Staples

Denim is a daily staple in closets all across America. It’s simple, versatile, and built to stand the test of time. For many of our readers, it also serves as a much-needed anchor in their quest for a minimalist wardrobe. As with many other clothing items we wear each day, though, there’s a dark side to denim. Everyday manufacturers compete for rock bottom prices through forced labor and thoughtless environmental practices.

There are a number of ethical denim brands from around the world that have actively fought back against this trend with thoughtful production and labor practices. Here in the USA, this search for ethics and transparency has led to a new wave of American-made denim. 

Purveyors of American-made Jeans don’t just get our attention for their transparency and local commitment, they also live up to an unmistakable tradition of durability and style. There aren’t very many things that feel more American than denim made right here in the USA.

These 10 brands are setting their industry straight on ethics and making us feel downright patriotic in the process. 

1. Bluer Denim

Based In | Portland, OR & Los Angeles, CA
Best For | Classic blue jeans
Product Range | Men's and women's denim, jean jackets
Denim Price | $95–$145

Bluer Denim is designed in Portland, Oregon, and made using cotton, denim, and rivets and zippers all made in the United States. Bluer jeans are cut, sewn, washed, and hand-finished in Los Angeles using eco-friendly ozone laundry processes. All of this makes Bluer a standout option for quality denim, but what really gets our attention is their give back model. For every pair of jeans you purchase, Bluer will buy back your used pair for $5, refurbish them, and deliver them to someone who really needs them. We love this simple model of waste reduction and community care. We think they’re the best pair of American-made denim you can buy for under $100. 

Shop Bluer Denim

2. Todd Shelton

Based In | New Jersey, USA
Best For | American-made denim
Product Range | Men’s apparel, denim
Denim Price | $235–$255

Todd Shelton is creating All-American wardrobe staples that you’ll proudly wear for years to come. They source their fabrics from countries with similar labor and environmental regulation as the USA, and their made-to-order approach means that they reduce wasteful extra manufacturing. The casual and classic menswear brand is perfect for the conscious gentleman, and their high quality wardrobe staples will last a lifetime. We love their wide range of washes, and with many different options for raw, selvedge, and stretch denim, you’re sure to find your new favorite pair.

Shop Todd Shelton


Based In | Kansas City, MO
Best For | Men's and women's classic denim
Product Range | Denim, shirts, dresses, knitwear, coats & jackets
Denim Price | $198–$345

Since its 2009 brand launch, BLDWN has made a distinct impression on the fashion world with both their men's and women’s designs. Husband and wife duo Matt and Emily Baldwin have earned top marks from GQ and Vogue, and their designs have become regular staples for JZ, Ellen Degeneres, and Jason Sudeikis. While Baldwin sources top-of-the-line Japanese raw materials, its design and construction are a collaboration between teams in Kansas City and Los Angeles. BLDWN’s quality, ethics, and style make it a regular staple of the team here at The Good Trade.   


4. Buck Mason

Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Best For | Selvedge & raw denim
Product Range | Men's denim, shirts, sweats, jackets, accessories
Denim Price | $135–$175

Buck Mason was founded by Erik Schnakenberg and Sasha Koehn with the ideals of American-made quality at its heart. Their selvedge denim is sourced from mills in North Carolina and their style ignores fashion trends while doubling down on timeless design and durability. What we love about Buck Mason’s designs is the simplicity. Their denim is made on a shuttle loom which gives the denim a weight and durability that sets it apart. After the raw materials are created, the product is constructed in LA where the details are set in order. Buck Mason’s quality sourcing and manufacturing are all standout, and for that, they get our vote as one of the best American-made denim choices on the market.

Shop Buck Mason

5. Reformation

Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Best For | Women’s vintage-inspired denim
Product Range | Jeans, shorts, skirts
Denim Price | $78–$178

We love the brand Reformation for its vintage-inspired dresses and trend-setting tops, but did you know the Los Angeles-based clothing company has a denim line too? Ref Jeans, a women’s denim line, focuses on sustainable and American-made jeans, and it includes everything from high-waisted skinnies to floods and cigarette leg denim. Each pair is made locally, and with sustainable materials, including TENCEL ® lyocell, recycled cotton, and organic cotton. With more than sixty jeans to choose from (as well as jean skirts and shorts for summer), it’s one of our favorite places to shop for unique and sustainable American-made denim.

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6. Freenote

Based In | San Juan Capistrano, CA
Best For | Men's jean jackets
Product Range | Men's shirts, jeans, denim jackets, knitwear
Denim Price | $250–$290

Freenote was founded by brothers Matt and Andrew Brodrick with a mission to meticulously consider each stitch, rivet, and ounce of cloth. Headquartered in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano, Freenote’s designs take inspiration from timeless American style icons and center on quality materials and durable construction. Freenote expertly walks the line between denim for the working man and denim for the stylish man, bringing them together in an iconic way that we haven’t found very many places. Their raw denim is imported from Japan and constructed in the USA.

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7. Tellason

Based In | San Francisco, CA
Best For | Raw selvedge denim jeans
Product Range | Men's raw denim, USA-made menswear
Denim Price | $95–$145

Tony Patella and Pete Searson have been likeminded friends since 1990. Their love for durable goods, their respect for where they came from and who made them is found in their brand. Tellason began with a clear focus to make raw denim jeans in San Francisco, home of blue jean culture. Not only are their jeans made in America, but the pocketing, thread, buttons, rivets, and leather patches are as well. By breaking in your own pair of Tellason raw denim jeans, you get to experience a custom fit that you’ll love for years to come.

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8. Imogene + Willie

Based In | Nashville, TN
Best For | Vintage style denim
Product Range | Denim, shirts, trousers, accessories, home goods
Denim Price | $215–$295

Imogene + Willie was born in the back of a Nashville gas station with a distinct brand of craftsman grit. After spending years in a family denim business, Matt and Carrie Eddmenson created the shop in hopes that it would one day become a destination for likeminded seekers of quality American-made apparel. Today, the American-made brand hasn’t lost a bit of its stubborn passion and now has a strong follower base that swears by the quality and aesthetic of the brand. I+W stands out for its personal approach to denim and for never losing sight of the little things. You can visit their store in Nashville or Portland, or browse their selection online.

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9. Genetic Los Angeles

Based In | Los Angeles, CA
Best For | Women’s skinny jeans
Product Range | Women's jeans, denim skirts, jackets, tops
Denim Price | $119–$236

Genetic Los Angeles is an American denim brand that treats their jeans as works of art. They produce all of their clothing in one state-of-the-art factory, where their talented employees hand cut and treat each pair to perfection. We love Genetic’s wide range of cuts, colors, and washes—they even have denim skirts and jackets! Plus, they offer a recycling program to reduce textile waste, where they accept used denim (any brand, any condition) and offer a $30 Genetic store credit in return. The old denim is refashioned into jeans and backpacks for homeless children in Los Angeles.

Shop Genetic Los Angeles

10. Ginew USA

Based In | Portland, OR
Best For | Heritage-inspired pieces
Product Range | Men's denim and workwear
Denim Price | $235

Ginew (Gih-noo) is the only Native American-owned, premium denim collection in the world. Founders, Erik and Amanda (a husband-and-wife duo), make hand-built heirloom goods in the USA using old-time methods with a focus on American-made materials. Each item incorporates elements of their own Native American (Ojibwe, Oneida, Mohican) and craftsmen heritage, and is designed to last a life's journey. We love how Ginew incorporates family symbols and teachings into their garments, while constructing them of the finest American-made materials.

Shop Ginew

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