Note: I was sent these pants by Ministry of Supply for the purpose of review.
One of the most popular items out there is to make performance denim — to take your standard blue jeans and tweak them somehow to make them better than denim. Typically this is through an infusion of a modern material or two, namely: spandex or some sort of polyester to help them breathe more.
Generally the benefits are very slight and the pant looks like denim, or the changes are robust and you end of losing some of the versatility that denim naturally has. For the Chroma denim, Ministry of Supply seems to have went for all of that, and then some.
Here is the claim: no color fade, ‘smart stretch’, and durable construction.
Let’s start with what these pants are from a materials stand point: 69% Cotton, 29% Polyester, 2% Elastane. I had not read this before I started writing this, and I will say that I am surprised by the low elastane content, and more surprised that there is polyester in the pants.
To be quite frank, these feel 100% as though they are your standard, albeit high end feeling, denim with stretch added. And they stretch far more than that 2% elastane number would have you believe. That could be helped by the looser cut, but I don’t know it feels like there is more going on.
The denim is stiff. It feels slightly rough on your skin. It feels like the type of pant that is going to wear well over the years.
Fit and Style
When these arrived my wife happened to be standing next to me, so I tried them on right away. Her first comment was that she thought they looked quite nice. That’s a bigger deal than you might think, because my wife has seen me try on a lot of crazy pants for this site.
The fit is fantastic. They look modern without being too slim. The wash on this ‘black’ pair I got is a deep and dark indigo — I asked for indigo, but am glad I got this color instead. It is fantastic looking.
More than that, the style is excellent because they look like a nice clean pair of jeans. The pants leg can be cuffed and it holds that cuff extremely well — all day long. These are things you generally do not get in a performance pant — but you get them here. Aces.
Ok, so let’s dive into those claims. The first claim is that the pant doesn’t fade. I have washed them four times now, and there is zero sign of fade, but that’s 4 washes — hardly enough to know for sure. But they are dark, very dark, and I washed them with white t-shirts — no color bleed which leads me to think this claim is probably going to hold.
‘Smart stretch’ is what these pants are billed as having, which Ministry of Supply defines as: “Chroma’s use of polyester and elastane perfectly balances flex and structure, resulting in denim that can move comfortably without losing its shape.” Yeah so this is the crazy part, that undersells what is going on here. They are very stretchy and basically never bag out. It is weird. It is magic, it must be. I don’t know but they stretch more than they should for such a low elastane content and such a stuff feeling pant, and yet they really don’t ever bag out — in the knees or the waist.
Lastly: durability. I can’t judge this, but they still look brand new to me, so I am guessing these are going to hold up — I don’t have a way of testing the 25 lb strength of the seams. To each his own.
But let’s dive more into my performance metrics, what we normally talk about here. First they dry very slowly, so don’t get in your head you can wash these hand hang them dry to wear tomorrow — add about 10 hours to that. They dry like denim.
They don’t breathe well, but not any worse than any other jean. They breathe and wear like denim.
I like them overall, but there is one thing about the performance where I find they fall short: dirt repellence. They don’t repel dirt or water at all. I am so used to having pants with DWR of some sort, that I forgot how easy it is to get pants dirty. I made the mistake of clumsily (apparently) eating a chocolate bar, and I could not wipe these jeans clean of that, I had to wash them. That’s a minor thing for how ‘normal’ they look.
Of all the performance denim I have tried, these are my favorites. I love them, and I suspect I am going to get a lot of wear out of them once the weather cools back off here in Houston. In the meantime, while I am stuck working from home, they are a part of my staple wear for the days the A/C is blowing a little too strongly in my home office. Well done.