The Beauty of No-Stretch Denim (and Where to Buy It)

by Kristen Philipkoski

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When I was in middle school, rollerskating was the thing to do on the weekends. I have strong associations between the skating rink, white skates loaded up with oversized pom poms, and my Levi’s. I wore the ones made for boys, and I loved what they did for my butt. It’s one of my few memories of self-confidence at that age and I relish it.

The jeans had no stretch (I don’t think any jeans did in the ’80s) and they came to a point mid-butt. Randy Brewer, proprietor at Convert an SF Bay Area mini-chain of three retail stores, explains that in today’s industry parlance this is known as “dino butt,” holding up his hand in the shape of a sideways “V.” A euphemism of sorts, but I found the profile quite appealing in my rollerskating days. And it’s an effect that’s impossible with tight, stretch denim.

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While there’s no dino-butt happening here, exactly, the rigidity of the fabric and the way it frames the butt is reminiscent of those middle school jeans. That’s what drew me to this particular pair by Strom (the Noll style in Electric from the spring 2016 collection), spotted at the Hayes Valley Convert—which recently added women’s clothing to its previously all-men’s selection.

Randy is a denim (and clothing in general) aficionado who’s retail experience spans nearly 25 years. He was general manager and head buyer for a dozen years at Villains, the iconic mini chain of three Haight Street shops that was one of the first to carry high-end denim brands including Diesel and G-Star. Previous to that, Randy was the buyer at Rolo in SOMA. The man knows his denim.

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So I was excited to partner with him on a post about the hard-to-find women’s denim he carries at his three SF Bay Area stores, all of which focus on sustainability and “made in America” brands. Convert on Hayes is the only place on the (extremely stylish) block that sells Frame Denim and J Brand for both men and women. Coming up in the fall, the Hayes Valley store as well as the new Convert Collection shop (1844 4th Street, Berkeley, CA) will also carry Kato, a cult Japanese brand by Hiroshi Kato.

Convert Collection opened in March as a sister store to the original Convert shop across the street (1809 4th Street) and features high-end brands including Citizens of Humanity, Premium Vintage, Barracuda, Max & Chester, JW Brine, Suzie Winkle, Apolis, Graf & Lantz, Stateside, Raleigh Denim, Velvet, Fidelity Denim and more. In the fall, Convert Collection will also carry S.M.N. denim.

It’s not often you find women’s jeans that don’t have some amount of elastane, and sometimes when you do, getting them past female hips can be a challenge. I suppose this is why designers introduced stretch materials to jeans. These Strom specimens, however, fit comfortably over my hips and hang loosely with an almost geometric fit. I love the crisp silhouette the pure denim creates.

And of course, like most jeans, they look great with casual sneakers or heels.

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Check out denim brands like Strom, as well as other sustainable and made-in-America designers at any of Convert’s three Bay Area stores:

Convert
556 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-252-7991
Hours: 11am to 7pm M-Sat; 11am to 6pm Sun

Convert
1809 4th St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Phone: 510-649-9759
Hours: 10am to 7pm M-Sat; 10am to 6pm Sun

Convert Collection
1844 4th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Phone: 510.984.0142
Hours: 10am to 7pm M-Sat; 10am to 6pm Sun

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