Left Field NYC – Xinjiang cotton denim Charles Atlas jeans review

I’ve been wearing Left Field duck chino pants for a few years now – since 2011 in fact – and have been very happy with how they have worn in over time. Even during the heydays of the denim & workwear revival, when there were no shortage of Japanese heavy weights and American start-ups, Left Field had been very interesting to me due to the combination of detailing and fabrics. With their recent batch of Charles Atlas jeans released in various fabrics, I decided to finally give Left Field denim jeans a go as well.

The jeans reviewed today are made with 14.5 oz Xinjiang cotton twisted yarn denim in the Charles Atlas cut. Alongside the 16 oz slubby Xinjiang cotton jeans, the new releases in Xinjiang cotton denims were designed to be lower priced alternatives to Left Field’s usual denim offerings, featuring the same construct and details, with Chinese denim substituting for Japanese and American fabrics.

Let’s take a look.

Fit

The Charles Atlas cut is one of Left Field’s newer fits, basically a variation of the ‘high tapered’ cut that has become popular in the past year or so. This cut keeps a higher rise, a more traditional fitting in the waist, seat & thigh, combined with a rather aggressive taper starting from around the knee and down to the hem; the Charles Atlas is suitable for people with larger or more muscular lower body builds who do not want the traditional wide-leg aesthetics.

In the photos here, as per Left Field’s recommendations, I am wearing the jeans raw at true-to-size. I’m guessing there could be approximately a 3 to 5 % shrink after the first wash, given the denim is sanforized – please see the next section for more details regarding shrink-to-fit.

Fabric

This 14.5 oz denim is very interesting. It is a sanforised, wide-loom denim with twisted yarns.

I have previously introduced two different Xinjiang cottons on this blog with the Sauce Zhan and Red Cloud reviews in 2016. The main aspects to take note with Xinjiang cotton are the extremely long staple length and its hand-picked nature, resulting in a fabric that has excellent comfort and strength properties.

Looking closely, the warp side is relatively regular, with a moderately deep indigo tone which is not inky dark. Some variegation in texture is seen when looking at the fabric from a longer distance, but this is caused by irregularities on the weft side peeking out, rather than the fabric possessing significant loom chatter. The handfeel of the warp side is textured, yet not overly rough and certainly not hairy – it is pleasing to touch.

The weft side is very curious indeed, almost resembling old-school Wrangler broken twill, yet is much more irregular. A couple of people have compared it to the weft appearance of the denim on Red Cloud’s R400. The hand-feel, in particular, is surprisingly smooth and almost supple, contributing greatly to comfort. Another aspect to the intriguing hand feel here is there seems to be a great deal of ‘body’ to this denim – it feels heavier between my fingers compared with the advertised 14.5 oz weight, and has an almost cushioning effect.

To be honest, not many raw denim jeans are comfortable to wear initially, often because the heavy weight fabrics are not only thick, but often rough, tough, and sometimes even abrasive. This is not a problem with the Xinjiang cotton denim we have here, which almost feels luxurious in comparison with especially shorter staple Texan, Japanese and Australian cottons denims. So, even though this Xinjiang cotton denim has been offered as an introductory alternative to more expensive Japanese and American denims, I do think it offers a few interesting aspects which are not usually found in stock fabrics from, say, Cone or Kaihara mills.

Do keep in mind that although this denim is sanforized, it does shrink noticeably after the first wash, with at least one inch shrinkage of the inseam and noticeably less space in the seat. With water contact, also, both the warp and weft side become more textured and somewhat rougher to touch.

Construct

Left Field has a strict philosophy of having their products made in America. Certainly, for Americans who want to support local businesses or fans of Americana in general, this is a big plus.

The jeans overall has an interesting thread colour scheme: It features two colours – burnt orange and navy – with the more visible components of the jeans such as waist band and pockets sewn with burnt orange threads, and the tonal navy thread being used in the crotch/fly area and as the secondary colour down the inseam.

The internal construct is very neat, with a clean looking fly too!

The button holes are well made, being densely sewn too!

External components such as leather patch, belt loops and back pockets are also accurately attached.

The chainstitch at the hem is fairly dense too, but perhaps slightly too close to the rolled edge (not a big issue).

The hidden selvedge in the coin pocket is buried deep! I almost couldn’t photograph it properly.

The inseam is constructed with the felled seam method, which is much appreciated and certainly much neater then the more common lock-stitching!

However, there was one defect on my pair – the chainstitch on the felled inseam near the crotch had broken, and after wearing the pants for the first time started to unravel.

This necessitated a 15 minute hand-stitch repair done by myself…even though this is not a cosmetic issue, given where the defect is located, it is a functional one (the seam was opening up and at risk of further tearing), and so this disappointed me somewhat.

Hardware & Peripherals

This pair of jeans features some very cool details, and Left Field’s efforts in designing this pair are certainly noted!

First, the leather patch design is pretty cool, and the workwear roots of denim is strongly advertised. The leather is on the thinner side, yet oily and supple. The patch is well made and nicely sized.

The belt loops are neatly attached, tucked into the waistband, and raised in the centre!

The bandanna fabric pocket bags are smooth and sturdy, the graphics delving further into the workwear theme.

The custom hardware featured is pretty imcredible, especially considering the pricing of the jeans. The rivets are custom Universal, thick and good quality, featuring Left Field’s skull logo.

The top button, again, harkens to the miner theme of these jeans, and features an interesting oxidation effect.

Opinions

At $145 USD, this pair of Left Field jeans is one of the very best value options I’ve come across in the sub-$200 category. Everything from the custom hardware to the Xinjiang cotton denim are above and beyond what I would expect in this price range, and having it made in a first world country by, presumably, fairly treated workers is a big bonus too.

Also, I am a big fan of the Charles Atlas cut – it is comfortable for my slightly larger than average build and gives a modern appearance without being too ‘carrot’-like in the fit. Reproduction enthusiasts need not apply, but Left Field will have other fits that may interest folks who are after strictly vintage cuts.

Even though I did not buy this pair of jeans because of the relatively low price – my reason for purchase was the fascinatingly weird Xinjiang cotton denim – nevertheless, it is also great to see that Left Field has managed to keep the construct and detailing at the same level as their usual $200 to $300 USD jeans offerings, providing a great introduction for new denimheads.

The jeans do perhaps lack the extreme sophistication of top-tier Japanese brands in terms of minute details like varying thread sizes and colours, but at this price range I wouldn’t expect this at all. Even sub-$200 Japanese jeans usually only feature monotone and one-size stitching.

The fabric itself is great – this Xinjiang cotton denim is certainly not traditional or repop in any way, but I love weird denims. It’s not just a gimmick either: IMO the various Xinjiang cotton denims I’ve tried so far all offer different and significant advantages over the more reproduction style denims, especially in regards to hand-feel and comfort.

The high-tapered style cut and the long staple cotton fabric makes this the most comfortable raw denim experience I’ve had in a long time, even in the currently very warm Australian climate.

The defective chain-stitch near the crotch was a concern, and certainly my initial enthusiasm regarding these new jeans dampened during the repair that I had to do at home. This is why I always check my new jeans inside out, given that broken chain-stitching is prone to continuously unravel if not mended early. I’m chalking this down to bad luck, rather than poor workmanship, as the rest of the jeans are very well made.

Overall, I feel Left Field’s denim jeans are a great option for American-made jeans, and I really like their approach to fitting, detailing and fabric selection. Certainly, Left Field’s products are worthwhile considerations for people who are interested in Americana or workwear – this pair of Charles Atlas jeans being no exception.

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