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Stretch or non stretch jeans for men. Which is better?

Both stretch jeans and non stretch jeans for men have advantages. Which is better is determined by what you personally prioritize with jeans.

Non stretch jeans by Todd Shelton
Photo credit: Todd Shelton

About this article

This article is managed by Todd Shelton, a jean manufacturer in New Jersey, selling direct-to-consumers throughout the United States. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen our customers go from not knowing much about stretch jeans to asking for them.

But not all men want stretch jeans. Going forward, we see men’s jeans being divided into two camps: men who want stretch and men who don’t. This article looks at the pros and cons of each.

Detail-minded men who care about fit use us

Detail-minded men who care about fit use us

We specialize in manufacturing a wide range of fit options designed to help men solve fit problems and improve the fit of their jeans.

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Stretch jeans are taking over

Most jeans in stores today are stretch jeans, with non stretch jeans sometimes being hard to find. Stretch jeans are taking advantage of three trends happening in America:

1) Americans are prioritizing comfort
2) Skinny jeans became popular
3) American body types are changing

First, American style is changing, and it’s prioritizing comfort. As men choose comfort over all else, stretch jeans provide the comfort of sweatpants while looking like jeans.

Second, skinny jeans or close-fitting jeans, moved beyond a trend to become popular with mainstream American men. Stretch denim allowed men to wear their jeans tighter and even skin-tight. Without stretch denim, skinny jeans would be too uncomfortable wear.

And third, the American body type is changing. Stretch jeans are more forgiving than non stretch jeans for men, and stretch jeans have the flexibility to fit more body types and accommodate for fluctuations in body size.

What are stretch jeans

Stretch jeans for men look like regular jeans, but they stretch.

There is 2-way and 4-way stretch. 2-way means the denim will either stretch left to right or top to bottom and 4-way means the denim will stretch in all directions, left to right and top to bottom.

Stretch jeans.
Photo credit: Mugsy Jeans

Stretch from left to right allows jeans to expand to body size; think big thighs. Stretch from top-to-bottom enables jeans to stretch with movement; think easing at the knees when kneeling.

Most commonly, men’s stretch denim jeans are made of 98% cotton and 2% stretch. The 2% stretch is made up of elastic-type fibers mixed in the cotton fibers, which enable the denim to stretch.

In contrast, non stretch jeans are all-cotton, there are no elastic-type fibers mixed with the cotton.

The economics of stretch jeans are favorable for businesses

Not only do comfort-minded men love stretch jeans, businesses love them too, and they’re putting more stretch jeans in their stores.

When a customer takes a stretch jean into the fitting room or buys a stretch jean online, it’s going to be more flexible than a 100% cotton jean. Because of the flexibility, the odds of it fitting are probably higher.

So whether a customer is in-store or shopping online, businesses are betting that more men will find an acceptable fit with stretch jeans over non stretch jeans for men. With the hope that more men will buy and fewer men will exchange or return.

But stretch jeans do get complaints

Stretch jeans have two negatives that even stretch jean fans will confirm:

1) They lose their shape faster than non-stretch jeans
2) They don’t last as long as non-stretch jeans

The biggest complaint with stretch jeans is that they lose their shape (how they fit) and have to be washed to get them back into shape. The denim is designed to stretch, but once it’s stretched, it struggles to recover to its original shape.

Many men refer to the loss of recovery as “bagging out.” A man may only be able to wear the jean once or twice, before needing to wash, only to get the jean back to its original shape.

Ripped stretch jeans
Photo credit: The Ruffled Purse

The other complaint to stretch jeans is that they’re less durable than all-cotton jeans. Men complain that they develop holes in the thigh crotch area or on the back pockets faster than all-cotton jeans.

Non stretch jeans for men are still preferred by many

The main reason men prefer all-cotton jeans is that they don’t lose their shape as quickly as stretch jeans. A man can wear cotton jeans for multiple days without washing them.

The other reason, which is more for a discerning eye, is that 100% cotton jeans look a certain way, feel a certain way, move a certain way, and break in a certain way. Stretch jeans cannot replicate the iconic style of 100% cotton jeans. Stretch jeans, to a discerning eye, look like a lab-created version of 100% cotton jeans because that’s what they are, literally.

The men who still prefer 100% cotton jeans prefer the classic. They want to feel like they’re wearing jeans and look like they’re wearing jeans. They prefer to break in their jeans with the hopes that they will last for years.

Which is better for you?

  • Stretch jeans are better if you prioritize comfort over style.
  • Stretch jeans are better if you want your jean to hug your leg, think skinny jeans.
  • Non-stretch jeans are better if you prioritize classic-style over comfort.
  • Non-stretch jeans are better if you want your jeans to last longer.

Why we prefer non stretch jeans for men

At Todd Shelton, our priority is consistency of fit. Our customers expect our fits to be consistent order-to-order, year-after-year. And across jeans, khakis, and trousers. 

Todd Shelton 100% cotton non-stretch jeans
Todd Shelton 100% cotton jeans.

After years of working with stretch denim, we determined that stretch jean fit can be less predictable. All-cotton jeans provide us the structure necessary to deliver consistent fits. 

We understand the value of stretch denim and we offer stretch jeans. But for fit purposes and for the style we endorse, we believe 100% cotton jeans provide the best results for our customers.

If you have thoughts on stretch denim vs cotton denim, we’d love to hear from you – regardless of which you’ve chosen and why. Please reach out to us at


Todd Shelton is men’s clothing brand based in New Jersey. Founded by Tennessee native Todd Shelton, the brand’s collections offer industry-leading fits that are manufactured in the company’s NJ factory and sold exclusively online.

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