When it comes to jeans, I’m about as finicky as a set of Amal carburetors on a vintage Triumph. If they’re not perfectly dialed in, they’re just not gonna work. Having almost given up tuning said old nasty carbs, I came across a set of the REV’IT Carnaby’s. At first glance, I was attracted to the wash and finish. I tend to prefer darker jeans: grey, black, or deep-blue denim. The reason is functionality. I’m usually covered in dirt and / or grease, and the easiest way to hide it, is to slick back my hair (with said the grease and dirt, of course), and wear dark jeans and a black shirt. Add a spritz of Chanel Bleu, (Tim Harney knows what I’m talkin’ about!) and I look and smell as good as a guy who actually takes the time to clean up properly.
When I spoke with my guys (and girl!) at REV’IT, they assured me that these were their “skinniest” fitting jeans, and would be spot-on to my typical style. After I received them, to my chagrin, I found that a size 30 (I wear a 29″ – 30″ in Levi’s) was way too big. Leticia could have jumped in with me, and there would still be room for a party. That said, they sent out replacements ASAP (their customer services rocks!). I slipped on a 28″ and was golden…almost. I’ll get to that in a minute. The new pair felt good enough to use as a starting point before I had them tailored.
Some of you shorter guys who order REV’IT (or other) jeans might wonder why they’re so long (the same length for that matter) despite the waist size. No, it doesn’t mean they think we’re all the same height, or that you’re just supposed to make a bigger cuff. Brands do that not only as a cost-saving method for production, but also as a service to their customers. While a 34″ inseam in one brand might be the same, the “seat” or “crotch” might be a bit lower (or higher), which will affect the final length. This means a 34″ x 34″ in one brand might not be as long, or as short, in another. If they provide the jeans with a single length, you can have them hemmed to the perfect fit. And this is where the fashion lesson begins…
It’s been said by the smashingest of men – from the likes of Draper to Depp, Bond, Newman and the rest of them – that having your clothes tailored is probably the best thing a man can do to tighten up his appearance. This is a must for me. Whatever they are (shirts, jackets, pants), I almost always take them to a tailor and get them sized to fit. Trust me, you’ll spend a little bit more on your garment, but it’s worth it. So let’s start with how I ensured my new Carnaby’s fit perfectly both on and off my bike.
(1) Wash your jeans once before you take them to the tailor. The material will tighten up a bit and you’d be surprised how much length or width can be lost. Now I know people are going to say, “OH MY GOD! DON’T WASH EXPENSIVE DENIM!” Well, to them I say, “That’s why you smell like you’ve ridden cross country without showering.” But seriously, washing your nice denim three to four times a year (this is the rule I follow) is fine in my opinion, so long as you do it properly.
First, turn them inside out and button all the buttons. Make sure you put your washer on gentle, and use a dime size amount of detergent (I recommend Murphy’s brand natural products), preferably something organic, as it will break down the denim’s sheen and finish over time much less than traditional detergents.
This is key, too: make sure the washer is a tumble style NOT a spindal style. The denim will get wrapped around the spindle, and you could end up with stretching or markings on the denim. I learned this the hard way by ruining a very expensive pair of Japanese denim jeans.
Once they’re finished, take them out and lay them flat to dry (still inside out). While they’re still slightly damp, turn them right-side out and use an iron on a low heat setting. This will flatten out the denim and give them back some structure. From there, you should be good to go.
Another TIP: If you’re in a pinch and can’t wash them, you can steam them clean with an iron. It kills the bacteria and freshens them up a tad. Add some essential oils to the water in the iron, and you’ll be smelling almost as good as me.
Now that your new jeans are pre-shrunk, you’ll get a more accurate fit, and can better make an assessment on what needs to be modified. To me, the most important thing about a pair of jeans that I’m going to ride in is having a slightly lower waist-line in the front than in the back, and a “higher” crotch/seat. This prevents the jeans from bunching up underneath you and keeps them from digging into your stomach while riding. Trust me, when you clock 600 miles in a single pair of pants, the slightest of fabric digging or bulging in the wrong places can make you miserable. Just ask Leticia. I whine more than a 12 year-old girl who got a bad report card and wasn’t allowed to go to the Justin Beiber concert…
Second, finding a good tailor is the key to this entire process. You can’t go to someone who just does alterations. You need a tailor: someone who actually makes clothes in addition to repairing or modifying them. When I go to the tailor, I actually ride my bike in so I can sit with my pants in the exact position they’re going to be. I also put the boots on that I typically wear while riding. This allows the tailor to cuff them (if that’s your liking) so they are the proper length while riding. Too often, I’ve had my jeans hemmed while just standing, and what’s the result? Cold air blowing up my ankles and into my pants, which drives me insane.
Ok, that last part may or may not be an exaggeration…your tailor probably won’t want you to ride your bike into their store, but I’m an extremist. What can I say? You can probably get away with parking it out front, at least. If not, sitting in a chair will yield roughly the same result.
Bike or not, get your pants on and in front of the tailor. You’ll want the crotch to be pulled up a bit right below the point where you can “feel” your boys touching the interior seam. That’ll ensure a comfortable ride. Or at least it does for me. From there, it’s a matter of preference. I usually have some material taken out the entire way down the leg so I get a nice, tight fit. For some of you reading, you may find they fit well in the legs right out of the box, and you just need a hem. Use your judgment, obviously. Trust me though, the first time you wear a pair of jeans that have been tailored to you, you’ll never go back. And for what it costs (maybe $75 at the most), it’s worth every penny.
In the end, I had the waist of my Carnaby’s taken in just a tad more, the seat/crotch taken up a bit, and the legs taken in the entire way down, with about 3″ taken off for the hem. They now fit perfectly while I’m riding, and look great when I’m wearing them skydiving, working at the shop, racing a unicycle, or whatever other stupid stuff I’m doing on any given day of the week.
So style advice aside, lets get into the jeans themselves.
First, they’re made from Cordura denim which, in my opinion, is better than Selvedge for a riding jean. It’s 4x more abrasion resistant, and is far more pliable, breathes better, and can better withstand the elements. The Carnaby’s are definitely a European-style, technical jean. They’ve got it nailed, and if worn by an Italian, I’m sure he could do the same to your girlfriend before you could say “aspettare amore mio!”
As for color, these are definitely considered a dark wash. The denim is not really gray or black, it’s a charcoal color, and, in my opinion, they nailed it on the head. They look great with black or brown gloves or boots. It’s the perfect in-the-middle color if you ask me.
Getting down to the technical side of things, they’re rated for CE at the hips, seat, and the knees (they come with knee pads.) You can also add SAS-Tech armor in the hips for extra protection. (Side note: if you’re planning on wearing the armor make sure you have it installed during the tailoring process). Speaking of protection, they’ve got a flat front mounted pocket that sits right on top of your thigh that can be used for a myriad of things. And since I’m not a big “brand,” I can get away with saying that it’s perfect for an iPhone, providing easy access to pull it out for that perfect “rolling photo” we’re all after these days (I am not liable if you wreck your moto trying to Periscope while riding down the I5!). In addition, it’s perfect for most larger-than-normal knives. So whether you’ve got to cut a video, slice through some duct tape, or kill a bear, you’re good!
All in all, they’re a fantastic jean. I’ve low sided a few times in the dirt on my Triumph Scrambler (and while getting pulled on a skateboard behind our Wolf Dog Jack… yeah, that was awesome), and not only have they NOT ripped, the triple stitches haven’t even given a tad. There’s just no other way to say it than, “REV’IT, you guys killed it!” The only thing I would say could be an improvement would be a little closer sizing, and maybe a waxed finish. I spent about an hour hand rubbing wax into mine, and not only did it improve the look and feel, they’re now water resistant which is perfect for afternoon Florida showers.
Given this was my first pair of REV’IT jeans, I have to say, I’m going for another. Check out their latest styles here and give yourself a little present. You’re worth it!