Something a little different today, and I’m quite excited by it: My first pair of Chinese denim!
This is a review of Sauce Zhan 726XX-HQ from Sauce’s Taobao webshop.
Sauce Zhan (沾酱), literally translated, is to “dip in sauce”. This brand was started by a Chinese raw denim enthusiast in 2011, based out of Beijing.
The jeans in question today, the 726XX-HQ, is their “export tier” top of the range model that is made to the same standards as Sauce Zhan’s fully customised jeans. As such, it is hand-made in Sauce Zhan’s own Beijing workshop (rather than being outsourced to a factory like some of their other models), with a large portion of the sewing done by the owner himself. It evens comes in a off-white 16 oz sail-cloth bag.
An interesting maker video from Sauce Zhan showing the making of the 726XX may be viewed in the link below:
In regards to the fit, Sauce Zhan jeans generally come as either slim straight or slim tapered.
The 726XX-HQ is one of the slim straight jeans, though they fit a tad skinnier than a usual slim straight on me if worn true to size. Apart from the slimness, the cut is generally quite comfortable, with relatively easy movement in the top block.
One usual aspect of this pair is the relative shortness of the back rise. I would have preferred the back rise a few cm higher, and it didn’t help that the webstore measurements only specified “rise”, and did not provide separate measurements for the front and back.
The denim the 726XX-HQ is a gorgeous 14.5 oz denim made with Xinjiang extra-long staple cotton. Similar to Pima and Zimbabwe cottons, ELS Xinjiang cotton belong to the Gossypium barbadense species, a progeny of the now extinct Sea Island Cotton. A weft strand I pulled from the belt-loop measured at 42 mm long!
According to Sauce, this denim has undergone 7 revisions over 3 years to arrive at the current version, with each revision attempting to achieve better fading & ageing capabilities than the last whilst maintaining “feather-like” handling.
Indeed, even whilst starched, this denim has a magnificent hand. After a quick initial wash, it becomes intensely hairy and very, very comfortable to wear (even with the slim cut).
Remember the Roy x Cone contest jeans with the Pima weft?
Well, both warp and weft on this denim is ELS cotton, and measure even longer than the Pima.
Cotton aside, the weave on this denim is made on shuttle looms and is moderately irregular, but without exaggerated knots or slubbing. The fabric appears to be rope dyed; Sauce mentioned special focus was given to the dyeing of the fabric, which has gone through incremental upgrades, but the details are unavailable to me for now.
Overall, a smooth, easy-wearing and luxurious denim.
With this pair in particular, I paid extra attention in the examination of the construction – having looked it over top to bottom 3 times – and there are plenty of photos below. This is due to a review by beautiful_FrEaK a couple of years back, noting some irregularities in stitching on a pair that was custom made for a Superfuture member.
I am glad to report that there are no such irregularities or defects this time around.
Have a look at the photos!
As you can see, it is clear that Sauce Zhan’s own workshop has upped their game over the past couple of years. Everything looks clean and ruggedly stitched down. The stitch count also appears high. The threads are high quality cotton threading.
The attention to detail is further emphasised by not only the raised belt loops, but also the raised back-pocket edges. All stress points are nicely reinforced or bar-tacked, all seams are neatly closed.
Not a whole lot for me the nit pick here, which is fantastic.
In terms of the components and peripherals, this pair features some interesting details.
Firstly, the patch – made up of full grain Argentinian cattlehide – is printed with Sauce Zhan’s top of the range “Battle to The End” design, which only feature on 726XX models or fully custom jeans. The leather is rather thick, with a nice grain and moderate stiffness. It washes fairly well, and darkens nicely with some oil.
The buttons and exposed rivets are the higher end purple copper versions, the type of copper being more commonly used for jewelry applications. Nice & sturdy, custom embossed, with a really nice colouring & a darker shine that I prefer to regular copper hardware. The hidden rivets are Universal reproductions from YKK.
The pocket fabric is a sturdy plain white cloth, with a silkier feel than the average pocket cloth.
Finally, the naughty red tab. To be clear, I purchased from Sauce Zhan through a Chinese proxy – therefore, as far as the purchasing transaction, it must be considered entirely a local Chinese purchase. I am sure that, if directly exported, Sauce would have cut off the tab.
Wait, I haven’t told you the best bit:
This pair of jeans only costs ~$90 USD!!!!!!!!!
From now on, if anyone asks for a recommendation for raw denim under $100, I will say Sauce Zhan.
Seriously though, even just considering the fabric itself…you’ll have to buy a pair of Real Japan Blues or high-end Momotaros before you get 100% extra-long staple cotton warp & weft.
And it has a red tab!
Based on value alone, I would recommend this pair of jeans from Sauce Zhan. Do keep in mind that Sauce also has a dozen other lower-end models that are even cheaper, which would make fantastic starter pairs for newbies.
Independent of price, I will have to praise the excellence of their make and the quality of materials utilised on the 726XX-HQ. I would actually recommend this pair not just to beginners, but also seasoned denim nerds, as this Xinjiang cotton denim is actually very fascinating and oh so comfortable.
Have a look at Sauze Zhan’s webstore here.