Better cuts? Not from the fit pics I see on SW&D they ain't. Most of them look like pretty lousy fits, thought that might just be the sagging that ensures a crotch blowout. You do understand that there's a difference between a well-cut pair of jeans and the decision a person makes on how to wear their jeans, right? Also, cut can be subjective BS, not just with jeans but with any article of clothing. People buy and enjoy pairs of '55 501 LVC because they're archival pieces with the fit to match the period, the same way some MCers enjoy boxy suits to evoke an older aesthetic. Boutique brands with smaller runs? Markup for 'exclusivity' right there. You may be getting the exact same jean levis makes, but it would be 3x the price. Quality is not a necessary condition for a boutique markup. Smaller runs do not necessarily equal markups associated with "limited edition" products. That WSJ article gives a fairly realistic breakdown the perfectly illustrates my point. The denim they used, while done in smaller runs compared to the rest of the wide loomed goods that Cone produces, isn't very expensive. Several other companies use the same denim for jeans geared towards the SW&D crowd, and they're done in runs FAR smaller than R&R and the like. These jeans retail from around $150 and up, essentially half the price of the R&R model featured in that article. I'm not sure if I have to explain how minimums work but typically the more product there is to make, the CHEAPER it will be to make it; this is true in terms of labor in assembly as well as fabric, zippers, buttons, etc. I'd like to see an example of a pair of jeans that's "the exact same jean levis makes" at 3x the price. Actually, in the case of some of the companies listed above they're using patterns, denim, and details extremely comparable to those of LVC and do so for less. I guess I'm just a cynic. The question for me becomes if you're a cynic because you're misinformed or simply uninformed. I have never, ever, not once, seen a pair of pre-distressed/faded jeans that looked anything like actual jeans that have been ridden in. BTW, FWIW, the far-and-away favorite brand of actual "cowboys" in the Southwest of the US is Wrangler. You might be doing your research in the wrong library. There are several brands that take authentic washes and distressing to nearly-perfectionist levels. Levi's, for example, has a well-known history of buying jeans that are decades old and then painstakingly recreates a copy to sell to customers for $501. Extra credit if you know why Wrangler is a favorite brand among cowboys.