“Everybody has a plan ’till they get punched in the face.” What does that have to do with Brave Star Selvedge? Not a damn thing specifically, but that quote does come from one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in the world, Mike Tyson, and that’s what we are going to look at today; Brave Star’s 21.5oz Brutus Heavyweight Slim Straight jeans and Ironside Type 3 jacket. With forty full days on my jeans and over 100 on my Ironside, I felt now was a fair time to write up my review on my heavyweight Brave Star gear.
First, the highlights on how we are reviewing products in general at The Arcuate, established in our first review. First, “Aesthetics;” we are going to take a look at the denim itself; we will talk about characteristics of the jeans/jacket that make them stand out from or simply blend into a crowd. Second, we are going to discuss “Quality;” this will include construction and overall perceived and experienced durability. Finally, “Value;” this is more practical stuff, including price, shipping and how the first two review points weigh into the overall value. Overall, we will give products either a “Definite Buy,” or “Nice to Try.” Now that we have that out of the way, let’s kick tires and light fires.
Brave Star AESTHETICS
Brave Star ooze’s Americana when it comes to denim. You’ll get no complaints from us in that department. Everything from their denim sourcing, buffalo emblazoned leather iD patch and iconic star embroidery on their rear pocket (jeans) and in-between the shoulders chants “USA! USA! USA!” Shit, even their hang tags say, “Some things deserve to be made in America,” and I really love that about this brand.
When these two heavyweight items hit my doorstep, I could hardly wait to put them on. On day one, the denim was stiff as a fucking board, no surprise from raw denim, but William H. Macy, these were stiff. Need proof? The Ironside stood up on its own:
The denim itself feels substantial, which makes sense, given the weight, but you get the impression that these things could stop a bullet. We don’t recommend you try that, however, as we are not ballistic experts and are pretty sure that is just a turn of phrase in this instance. We know for a fact neither item is a suitable flotation device…any who. The same denim was used in both the Slim Straight heavyweights as well as the heavyweight Ironside Type 3 Jacket. Make no mistake, this kit is as close to plate fucking armor as it gets, hence our tag #indigoarmor.
The denim is dark as hell and looks very inky in most light. The fabric is LHT (left-hand twill) which makes both the jeans and the jacket incredibly soft despite the rigidness right out of the packaging. Brave Star claims the best attribute for both pieces is that due to the nature of the yarn dying process, “there will be a high contrast in the whiskers and combs with the high ridge areas getting the most contrast which is sure to produce a jean with unparalleled ‘wabi – sabi’ character.”
So far, I have found this to be incredibly true. I am 40 wears in on the jeans and they are showing contrasting fades at the lap, knees (front and combs in the back) and at all the created stress points. You can visibly see my wallet outline, my knife and even the skate bearing (good luck bearing FTW!) I carry every day. It should be noted that after a particularly explosive diaper blow-out, the jeans have had their first hand-wash.
The Ironside jacket is fading beautifully. At over 100 wears on the clock (this is my daily goto, layered easily with hoodies, sweaters and flannels for variety), there are awesome signs of prominent fading on the arms, the edges along the button lines, bottom hem and even where my seatbelt crosses my left shoulder. This jacket is going to look badass by the end of spring!
Brave Star QUALITY
OK, we know this often gets debated on message boards around the community. Having experienced some quality issues myself, including on my 21.5oz slim straights, one thing I have experienced with any of my Brave Star purchases that have had quality issues, is that Brave Star always makes it right. In the instance of my Slim Straights, I experienced a bad punch and clasp for the top button. This issue, coupled with the sheer weight of the fuckin’ denim, lead to the top button ripping clean off from my jeans inside of 7 wears.
This issue was immediately remedied by Brave Star customer service, covering the expenses for repair at my local cobbler (yes, you heard that correctly: cobbler). For that I am grateful and have no complaints apart from not having my jeans for a day to have the button replaced. In terms of the jeans, minor issues like “fly-away” or unfinished threads are present but otherwise the construction is solid and rugged.
With the Ironside jacket, I haven’t experienced any issues whatsoever. The finishes on the jacket are all top-notch, with solid button punches and strong seams to match the heavyweight denim. No complaints on the jacket.
I would be remiss In my duty as a reviewer if I didn’t comment on fit for both pieces. While both are plenty comfortable, the fits were not what I expected. The Slim Straights, for example, as I can make a direct comparison, fit much baggier than expected. I have a pair of Slim Straight 14oz Cone Brave Star jeans that fit incredibly, manufactured a few years back and bought “second hand” new on eBay. Tags attached with no signs of wear or wash, the 14oz pair fit me beautifully.
Given the same cut, I made the same size and style purchase for the heavyweight Brave Star jeans. I was surprised, upon trying them on, that that cut was more ample through the thigh and knee. I found this somewhat disappointing given how well the lighter weight jeans fit. All that to say this, if you have Slim Straights from an earlier manufacturing date, it may be worth sizing down.
The XL Heavyweight Ironside was also more ample through the shoulder, chest and body. This could be inexperience on my part as I based my size off measurements of similar measurements from my Nudie Conny Dry jacket. They matched up fairly similarly on paper and made my decision based off those measurements. Now, to say this was an issue would be unfair. I love the extra room with this jacket because it has allowed me to layer and wear it in most temperatures this winter, and as previously discussed, winter in Northeast Ohio is a bitch! The five day forecast in Cleveland at any given time of year is perfectly summarized this GV Art tee:
Brave Star VALUE
So, you can’t really argue it, for the money, Brave Star provides an attractive product at an entry level price of $128 for the jeans and 30 bucks more for the jacket. Well-made denim at this weight and price make for a good option if you want to dabble in heavyweight denim. Other brands with the same weight offering are charging twice as much.
I bought these pieces at the start of my journey into selvedge denim. I had a lot of missteps and misfires at the start, including buying the wrong size jeans more than once, buying some generally pretty shite jeans despite being selvedge (not all denim is created equal) and also buying things I didn’t know I wouldn’t like (hey, in the end you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet).
In summation, I actually hold these items amongst my favorites of my collection. Call it sentimentality, maybe; they do, of course, mark the start of my denim journey beyond my 511’s. In the end I’ll say these are a “nice to try,” as they aren’t without fault, but they are a great way into trying something new and look good doing it!
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