Originally Posted by LA Guy
Actually, you suffer from a common misconception. What constitutes a good "cut" is highly subjective, although a bad cut is nearly universally recognized.
There is a very wide range in the quality of denim, and the prices vary considerably as well, from $1/yard (your Walmart variety jeans) and $20+/ounce (artisanal denim made in very small batches).
A typical denim is a 3x1 righthanded twill, though other types of twill are also used.. Irrespective of the weight, the quality of the constituent cotton used, the care taken in the carding of the cotton fibers to make the yarn, the care taken in spinning the yarn, and the care taken in the weaving of the yarn into denim, all help to separate a good denim from a bad. Equally important is the dye used and the dyeing technique used. Rope and hank dyeing of the weft (the blue) yarn will produce different effects in the visual effect of the denim produced. I won't go into more detail here.
Next, the quality of the hardware used, the grade of the thread used, and the grade of stitching (going from a 1/4" stitch to a 1/8" stitch, for example, makes a piece significantly more expensive to make), as well as the QC/QA standards used, all contribute to the cost of making a pair of really premium jeans.
For the price, RRL (a division of the Ralph Lauren empire) is hard to beat. It is Ralph Lauren's baby, by all accounts, and not really a money maker. Certainly, the margins are very low on the goods. The cuts are also typically agreed upon to be "good".
Again, LA Guy delivers.
To add to the discussion, another great option to consider in the $150 range (or the "gateway drug" to premium denim) alongside LVC,APC, and Lee Gold is Crate. Very nice denim and comes in a variety of (flattering, IMHO) fits. Also, you won't have to deal with wacky sizing like with APC and Lee, and the jeans will fit right off-the-rack, unlike LVC shrink-to-fit denim. Crate jeans retail for $150, can be had with a 25% discount from forum affiliate Secret Service.