Details: Skinny fit, water resistant and quick drying fabric, reflective piping, two front pockets and two rear pockets, high rise fit in the back, soft to the touch
Four years ago, Levi’s came out with a commuter jean for men, equipped with reflective piping, a water resistant finish, a skinny fit, and a u-lock holster on the rear. I was very jealous and angry that they didn’t bother to design an equivalent jean for women. As usual, a company invested time and money to fitting cycling products to men before they did so for women.
It’s taken several years for Levi’s to bother with a similar jean for women; however, not only did they come out with a spectacular commuter jean for women this year, Levi’s released an entire line of slick city riding garb for the other half of the road! Everything on this line is decently priced and aesthetically pleasing. Most of the cycling jeans out there I’ve seen for women are either unattractive, expensive, or never in stock. Ultimately, we don’t have many choices at the moment (though, the market is consistently growing), so I’m very glad that Levi’s has created an addition for the overall collection.
Along with the Levi’s, I own a pair of Rapha’s cycling jeans and Outlier’s riding pants. I love all three for different reasons, and Levi’s design is definitely a great bang for your dollar. At first I was on the fence about these pants and mostly bought them because I found a pair in this adorable powder blue, but now I have a multitude of reasons to appreciate these jeans.
First of all, these are so soft to the touch. This is both a pro and a con in many ways: the pro is that it feels nice against my skin, the con is that these pants attract lint and wear easily. For example, I got some grease on the right thigh of these pants, so I washed it out and did a bit of gentle scrubbing. There’s now a very obvious worn spot where I scrubbed, and I would attribute this to the thin construction of this cotton.
That being said, these are light and the thin material actually makes them even quicker to dry and good for multiple seasons. I’ve even been comfortable wearing them this summer, and it’s been 90+ degrees in Portland this year. Pair them with some wool tights or some long underwear and they would be equally great during the winter months. They are stretchy and comfortable and have wonderful performance on the bike.
I am a huge fan of reflective piping since I ride at night in the city, and this is perhaps the only detail that is a dead giveaway that they are commuter pants. The piping is subtle (when you don’t shine a bright light on it) and can be concealed by unrolling the pant-leg. I always keep mine rolled up because my inseam in 27″ while these pants are a 32″, and I haven’t bothered to get them tailored. The high rise design is also a wonderful feature. The pants do not cut into my tummy while I’m riding and they don’t fall too low in the back, preventing both plumbers crack and a cold lower back during the winter months.
Another thing I appreciate about these jeans is that they are true to size. Levi’s did not bother with the mystery that is women’s sizing in the US, they went with European sizing(by waist size in inches)… which makes way more sense. I wore a 27 in these jeans. Just match your waist size in inches to the jeans, and you’ll be all set. As I mentioned, they are nice and stretchy, so they should accommodate all sorts of body sizes and shapes.
I purchased these pants at the beginning of May as soon as they came out, and I have seen next to no fading since then other than the areas that I tried to get stains out of. That being said, I hand wash all of my cycling clothing and use castille soap for all of my washing, so I’m not sure how much or how little they would fade if you threw them in the wash once a week. I only wash my pants when they seem dirty, so they haven’t been washed that much. However, like I mentioned, they haven’t faded at all so far.
The one real beef I have with these pants and the commuter line is that it looks like everything is made in China. This would explain why they are much cheaper than other pairs of cycling jeans, most of which are made in the US or Europe. It irks me very much that Levi’s claims to be an American company and part of an American tradition… but they outsource all of their labor. That being said, I’m not sure whether or not they outsource fairly, but I’m going to assume that they do not. Why else would they need to source Chinese labor? To be honest, I was way too excited when I found these jeans in a store because I had been waiting for a commuter jean by them for years… so I just purchased them without doing research. If I had known this beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have bought them.
As I mentioned before as well, I was stoked to find commuter jeans for women in fun colors. It’s always gray, black, and more gray… but I saw powder blue, bright red, green, and a couple of other fun colors. Since I already had two pairs of black cycling jeans I decided it was time to mix it up. Levi’s has since gotten rid of all of their fun colors and have gone with the more blasé black, gray, and dark blue. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend these jeans in a light color unless you are careful or have the patience to remove stains. Black is usually the most practical, versatile, and hides grease the best.
Pros: attractive skinny fit, cheap price, reflective piping, stretchy fabric, quick drying, straight forward sizing
Cons: Made in China
All photos courtesy of Edward Barksdale.