In Money, Shop Quality Series, Shopping, Style

Shopping: Great High Quality Brands and Dupes for Designer Denim Jeans

I am and have a die-hard attitude towards designer jeans, particularly because I’ve grown up with cheap jeans from discount stores and the first time I ever bought a pair of designer jeans, I couldn’t believe how great they fit, how soft they were and how nice they shaped my bum.

I was a convert from that day on, and I even remember paying $238 for the first pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans I bought… ON SALE!!

From that day on, I was so sure I’d only buy designer jeans.

I moved onto Adriano Goldschmied (AG) jeans and were obsessed with the high-rise Farrah jeans of which I own two pairs of in two different sizes because one pair is for when I feel bloated and fat, and the other for when I feel slim.

(Key word here: FEEL. I do not feel and am not fat, but some days I don’t feel like my best.)

Anyway, I have started outgrowing my jeans — as in, they were a size 25 when I was a size 25 10 years ago, and nowadays I feel more comfortable in a size 27 where I have a much lower tolerance for fitted / skintight things.

So, what to do? I looked at my old jeans and realize that while the legs and thighs still fit, the waist is like… octopus-suck-me-in-and-squeeze-my-organs-into-oblivion .. TIIIIGHT.

See these? TIGHT. The waist is soooo tight:

So I examined them and love how they started distressing naturally on their own but they have to go.

I started trying on jeans from all price ranges. I’m talking EXPENSIVE to cheap AF.

I tried all the stores for different feels of brands, different rises (I prefer high-rise but can wear mid-rise if the jean is a certain material and not too stretchy and not too stiff), as long as the back is slightly higher.

The verdict?

H&M and Joe Fresh win, as the best designer jean dupes.


I think they are not quite as amazing as designer jeans, but for the fourth or fifth of the price, I think I can live with not spending thousands on jeans.

H&M: Designer jean dupes to look for and to avoid

Best way to save even more money

You can go and sign up for the H&M newsletter to get 25% off, and on top of that, sign up for an Ebates account (referral code here to get a free $10) so you can score another 1.5% cash back on your purchase.

The best: The jeans with “Premium” in the name

I would do a search on H&M, and search for “premium denim” and only shop those. The premium label is legit because the other non-premium jeans feel stiff, aren’t as stretchy or as comfy.

These are also the most expensive, at $50 – $60 per pair rather than $20 or $30.

With the discounts, I paid about $44 taxes in for each pair.

The runner-up: The jeans with “Embrace” or “Curve” technology

Also very comfy. I liked them a lot.

Avoid the Jeggings

The jeggings are very thin, they are bit too stretchy so they hug your flesh and skin which creates lumps where there are none.. it doesn’t skim your body.

Also, there are no pockets, the pockets are fake. WTF. I mean if you like leggings and jeggings, go for it, but I’d rather pay more and get the better pairs.

Don’t forget to size up! (Or twice)

The only thing about H&M jeans is I am wearing a 28 even a 29 in some of these.

I take a size 26 (fitted) in designer jeans, but would be most comfy in a 27 as I like to eat and be comfy.

In H&M I had to size up to a 28, and even a 29 and they fit just fine, just like a 27.

On the left is H&M, and on the right is Joe Fresh, two pairs of distressed jeans. Note that Joe Fresh was $35 and the H&M pair was $50.

JOE FRESH: Mid-rise can pass for high-rise comfort because the back is higher (see right picture above)

Watch out: you have to try them on in person

The fabric is a hit and miss. Some white jeans I tried on were soft, the other ones were not. Why? I have no idea why. No label, no differentiation of “premium” or not, you just need to go and touch them, and try them on.

Don’t forget to size up! (Or twice)

Again, size up. I am a size 26-27 and I needed a 28-29.

The best: The distressed jeans

I have no idea why but the distressed jeans only, so far are the only ones that were very comfortable, stretchy and great.

All of their other jeans felt stiff, looked too dyed (not the right mix of faded and dyed), and were not as great as their distressed pairs.


No clue. But their distressed jeans (I own them in blue and white now), are really close to designer jeans for 1/4 of the price.

Differences between designer and H&M/Joe Fresh

  • Not QUITE as soft
  • Fabric is a little thinner
  • Colours or distressing may be suspect, not quite as black as the designer stuff, or not quite as well done for the shades of blue — either too blue, too flat, too dark, too much whiskering..
  • Fabric fit and style is a hit and miss

Do you have favourite jean brands?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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