THE PRPS NOIR COLLECTION | VINTAGE REINTERPRETED, WORLD CLASS DENIM

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The PRPS NOIR Collection is not about black denim. Noir utilizes the best selvedge denim fabrics available anywhere in the world– with incredibly extensive washes and old school wear, tear & repair details that are authentic to genuine vintage jeans painstakingly collected over the years worn by real miners, mechanics, and laborers alike. Each jean is handmade and can take up to a week to produce. No one is doing denim at this same level. Noir represents the best of PRPS– true collector’s items.

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My Friend Donwan Harrell of PRPS gave me a preview of his yet to be released denim line–Noir. Almost 10 years later, PRPS continues to innovate and evolve denim like no one else. In fact, you can thank Donwan in large part for the Japanese denim phenomenon that we have today– he was the the first American to manufacture jeans in Japan, using Japanese fabric and Japanese construction. No one else was doing it. In the founding days of PRPS, Donwan set out to find the best quality selvedge denim in the world, and it wasn’t at Cone Mills– it was Okayama, Japan. (Back then Cone was really struggling just to stay alive, facing stiff pricing competition from Turkey, India, China– and the whole “Americana, US heritage brands, made in USA” menswear movement hadn’t happened yet, so there wasn’t the appetite like we have today for American selvedge denim from all the denim brands that have cropped-up in recent years…) In search of the old vintage looms, Donwan found a family there that for generations had been keeping the quality and heritage of old school selvedge denim alive. One thing that many don’t realize is that Japanese weaving technology has long been light-years ahead of much of the world. The old Toyoda and Sakamoto shuttle looms dating back many decades were much more advanced than the Draper looms that Cone Mills utilized for Levi’s.

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PRPS Noir jean above features great handworked touches like the distressing, staining, and even the separate leg panel in a different denim fabrication that is expertly joined below the knee by old school back-and-forth stitching. A lot of the hardware is soaked in paint thinner and otherwise abused to  prematurely age it, and the result is a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans that look and feel like they’re straight out of the 1800s – early 1900s. 

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It’s interesting to note, and not well known by all, that PRPS first launched in the European and UK market before they were released in the US, and was carried in iconic shops like Harvey Nichols, and The Duffer of St. George. Donwan explained that back in the day pre-dating the Japanese / selvedge denim phenomenon, The Duffer of St. George was the first shop to bring Japanese denim over to Europe and UK. Prendergast would go himself to Japan and buy Evisu  jeans, paying full retail– then bring them back to his shop, cut-off the Evisu red tab (due to the Levi’s copyright infringement) and resell them. Hearing this, PRPS had found their first customer and launched their line. They were the first American brand to make in Japan, use the world’s best Japanese selvedge denim, and offer it in Europe, the UK, and the USA. PRPS now offers 3 product lines– PRPS Goods (denim & sportswear), PRPS Japan (very clean, straight-forward Japanese selvedge denim and make), and PRPS Noir (Japanese denim and make with incredible vintage washes and distress details). To me, a denim-head, what Donwan is doing at PRPS is really cool stuff and I wanted to give you all an up-close look at it that not everyone has.

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PRPS Noir also has some very cool woven sportshirts, a denim chore coat like the one above, and other tops in the collection, with each piece being very unique in its make, model, fabrication, and treatment. Look closely and you’ll see that the chore coat above utilizes several different fabrics.

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PRPS Goods is their sportswear collection– and updated outdoors / utility inspired line, great quality.

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You can visit the PRPS site here

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46 thoughts on “THE PRPS NOIR COLLECTION | VINTAGE REINTERPRETED, WORLD CLASS DENIM

  1. I like the look of the PRPS Goods line. I like their classic rigid denim. The simulated distressing and aging of the denim rubs me the wrong way because it’s fake. It’s a great execution of a horrible concept. But I’m sure the Ryan Seacrests of the world will buy stacks of that stuff at Fred Segal and will appear to the world as though they’ve been getting their hands dirty, doing some hard work.

    • Bill,

      You are absolutely right that there is a bigger market for this in LA, and with the celebrity crowd too. This is very special denim, not for everone’s taste – or pocket book for that matter. Whether a person cares to wear it or not, to be able to take a piece of denim and create a garment like this from scratch – make it look 100s of years old – is truly an art form and something to behold. I wear mainly raw denim my own self, but I have to admit – having seem and touched them – that the pieces Donwan has created are nothing short of spectacular.

      Thanks,

      JP

  2. I have a proposition for someone. You buy new jeans and give them to me along with a modest fee. I’ll wear them to work for a while and then give them back. You can sell them for piles of cash and I get free work clothes. This blog has lots of cool stuff, but the fashion industry, I will never understand!

    • Dear Marvelicious,

      There’s a name for that there proposition – prison. A lot if great old pieces have come from prisons and work camps, but the trade-off is…

      Best,

      JP

  3. I’m with the other two commenters here. I’d rather do this to my jeans myself and then throw them away. BTW: It’s a pity that affordable jeans today are no longer what they (according to legends and fairy tale) once have been – durable.

    • Hey Stephan,

      Yes, the purists love to wear ‘em in and get good old fashioned earned patina and wear. It’s the best, and most personal way whether it’s jeans or a baseball glove. You form a bond with that piece of denim, leather, whatever it may be. It holds your story.

      Also, denim doesn’t always have to be Selvedge or all that expensive to be good. It’s all about what your looking to get out of it. If you want Japanese (or American) limited run, narrow goods fabric and old school workmanship, it costs. I have plenty of cheapie shrink-to-fit 501s that I bang around in. You should never forget that at the end of the day it’s a garment that was made for utility and wear.

      JP

  4. I agree with the rest of you. Pre-worn clothing is what is wrong with today’s society. Think about the whole concept for a few seconds. Manufactures produce clothes of great quality – and then destroys it before it is sold to the consumer. When bought, the clothes will only last a fraction of the time compared to similar clothes that’s not pre-worn. The chemicals used for distressing clothes are also really bad for the environment. I know that clothes look their best, when worn a little, but you should earn that wear and tear. The stains and rips should come from your coffee, your paint, your whiskey and from crawling around the floor with your toddler.

  5. Why is it then, that the Japanese scour our thrift shops and second-hand stores for old Levis, Wranglers and Lees and take them back to Japan to sell for a mint?

    I am sure the quality of these goods is high, but I prefer to “distress” my own.

    • Celticgods,

      Yes, the Japanese, the English, the Americans, Amsterdam – heck, the whole world is looking for these old denim relics because they are so incredible – not to mention – valuable.

      And yes, the Japanese are more knowledgeable and appreciative of old American culture like denim, rock ‘n’ roll, motorcycles, pop culture, etc. than a lot of us Americans are. Ironic, but true.

      Thanks,

      JP

      • When I was in high school we hosted a Japanese exchange student for a year, so I’m at least somewhat acquainted with their culture. I’ve always found the Japanese take on American culture to be a little sad. Its like they mimic all the trappings without any understanding of the reasons. Even sadder is when these trends wash back across the ocean to be watered down further by American kids who think its cool because its Japanese. Worn out denim is cool because of what the wearer been through. Even if the wear is authentic, what use if you didn’t put it there yourself? I’d feel like I was wearing a lie. Lucky me, I put plenty of genuine abuse on my clothes; not in an effort to look cool, but in an effort to pay my bills!

  6. I own 5+ pairs of PRPS and consider myself a cult fan. Donwan is the master. I’m in the business and have been for a long time. Nothing compares in this industry to his work and study of vintage denim. They are not for everyone and they are very expensive and I understand how most don’t get buying a garment like this, but its like buying artwork. Its subjective. They are the best jeans Ive ever owned. They are made from the best denim available, produced on the old Levi equipment sold off from Texas. They are handcrafted… and probably the most durable product in the denim market. Japanese Love classic American work wear. You have no idea how big of a market they have. They look for vintage American denim because you can’t find a Levi or Wrangler currently being produced that has the craftsmanship or quality like the old. This site is strange that way, where you have gear heads and hard core fashion guys. Those two groups are pretty different, but in Donwan’s case he is hardcore in both worlds and is not some guy posing or faking his love for either.

    • FREED,

      Well said, and I couldn’t agree more. Donwan is legit, and do is his product. It’s all about quality, utility, and a respect for the past. A lot of people don’t know he was a scrappy kid from the South who willed himself to where he is through grit, determination, talent & tenacity. He is easily one of the best at what he does because he lives and breathes it. When you buy PRPS you are buying something very special, and these jeans are definitely a master work created by the artist – Donwan. And when he’s not creating great denim, he’s with his boys or at the garage with his beloved vintage Mopars. He also knows more about Hemi’s than a lot of gear heads I know.

      Best,

      JP

    • Freed,

      I agree, when it comes to hand-crafted, vintage denim PRPS is a cut above the rest – none compare in my opinion. I remember buying my first pair of Barracudas back in ’04 and being amazed at the level of detail to parts of the garment that no one but myself would ever see, such as the single camo pocket bag and the multi-color buttons. And these just fit perfectly on my particular frame and I’ve been a loyal follower and client ever since.

      However, I bought 3 pair a couple of weeks ago and I’m really confused. All the PRPS brand literature states that they’re handcrafted in Japan from purple selvedge and my first pair of were indeed made in Japan according to the label. However, the label on all three of my most recent pairs say “made in China” and only one pair is selvedge, another is Japanese non-selvedge denim and the 3rd pair is a soft Italian linen denim. I wrote PRPS an email to clarify this but have yet to receive a reply.

      To be quite honest, I’m very disappointed that they’re engaging in deceptive advertising practices and moving aways from their roots and I believe it will ultimately harm their brand. I can’t tell you how horrified I was to see “made in China” on jeans that I’ve always associated with premium hand-crafted denim aimed at a discerning clientele. I’m wondering if they’re counterfeit however I think that’s unlikely since I bought them at Bloomingdale’s.

      Do you know anything about this?

      Thanks,

      Jeff

      • Jeff – Ill have to check my tags as well. I’m uncertain if all the garments are made in Japan but Im pretty sure all the selvedge denim is made in Japan. I’m not sure if they claim everything they make is made in Japan either…

      • Thanks Freed, I’d appreciate that. I still haven’t received a reply from PRPS. Also, I’ve come to realize that they have what appears to be three different lines: The PRPS line, the PRPS Noir line, and the PRPS Goods and Co. line (which seems to be the lower priced of the three). Perhaps these are made in China in order to keep costs down. But as I mentioned in my previous post, I have never seen this mentioned anywhere in their promotional literature. So I’m left feeling kinda duped and am considering returning all but the selvedge pair I purchased. Where do you usually buy your PRPS garments?

      • I was lucky enough to be in the loop for a couple of sample sales… and I bought a lot considering the price was very very low. I have also purchased from Gilt. The only full price pairs I purchased from Atrium on Broadway. Bloomingdales usually has a good selection though. I see the line in Europe a couple of times a year but the prices there are double what they are here…. Hey are you related to Michael Prada from Mass?

  7. Cool stuff. I paid $250.00 for a made in USA selvage jeans. I will break these in naturally by wearing em’ at work. A novel concept.

  8. JP,

    Any idea where these Noir peices are being sold? Atrium and Barney’s have neither of the pieces you posted :(. One of the most appreciable aspects to wearing jeans like PRPS, is they are not mainstream “trendsetting” jeans. The brand is not ubiquitos like other designer jeans such as True Religion, Nudie etc. Most of the people commenting cannot appreciate the labor and design aspects of these jeans, which is perfectly fine. Next, they generally are in awe about prices. Subtely and timelessness is the only thing PRPS delivers.

    • Jc,
      Agree with you. These PRPS pieces are unique. Not only is the design and quality the best in denim, but when I wear it I don’t have the same red levis tag as the 10 other guys in the room.

  9. As I sit here at work in my polo from Target and khaki pants from Boscov’s I will never understand the fashion world and really dont care to. But I can imagine the amount of time and work that it takes to hand make those clothes. Pretty impressive stuff.

  10. Donwan is a fortunate guy. He is an artist whose canvas is men’s clothes. He gets to create and make a living doing it. They are not made for the masses. They are made for people who like the style and esthetic. You might buy your furniture from Raymore and Flannigan. I buy mine from a guy in Lancaster who hand makes barn tables from old reclaimed barn wood. They probably cost the same but to one person my barn wood table looks like an old piece of crap (my wife) and to others it looks completely awesome with unique character and is a one of a kind (me). No one should get confused with PRPS and brands like abercrombie and American eagle who sell denim with holes and scrapes. Donwon’s denim has a story behind it, an artists vision. He is not going to have a store in every mall next to gap and Sprint… but he has accomplished something almost all Fashion designers strive for. Being able to create something that they feel is the best and unique and is their vision….at the same time make a good living. I guarantee you every designer at Target looks out the window at least once a day and wants to jump out of it…

  11. The non-distressed stuff in the fourth picture looks beautiful. But the first two pairs of jeans – That’s Tsubi 2001 collection right-ther.

    • Sorry, but no! Tsubi 2001 should not even be allowed in the same wardrobe as these! Yet alone the same sentence! The collection your talking about from bradmill and washed at Richmond laundry. Although, good at what they do. Will never be in the same league as the artist in Japan. I would love to see them at that standard don’t get me wrong! I’m into breaking in from raw as well. But the attention to detail is second to none in these. I would love to watch this guy at work!

      Great post JP

      • TG – Quality differences aside, and they may be significant – To my eyeballs I see similarities.

        I thought the distressed demin circus had rolled out of town anyway. Nothing more cringeworthy than some celeb or exec sporting busted arse jeans over $500 loafers with a pristine white shirt and blazer. VOMIT!

  12. I agree with most here. Pre-distressed jeans are ridiculous and pretentious as all hell. Some phony rich dude trying to look like he works for a living. I don’t blame this Donwan fella though, he’s smart enough to know where the money is. Thanks, but I’ll stick to my Made in USA 501s… and add the wear myself as I always have.

    • Seriously, guys – I don’t believe for a second that someone wearing a pair of jeans so expertly, artistically, and painstakingly distressed believes that they are actually pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes and that people actually believe that they wore these jeans in themselves. That bit seems pretty obvious, right? So…

      I believe it’s people who are into the artistry, exclusivity, and beauty that they represent that wear these jeans – whether YOU happen to be into it or not. So let’s drop the whole raw vs. pre-distressed debate. It seems a bit pointless and tired to me.

      Where what you love, and leave it at that.

      Best,

      JP

  13. The top two pairs of jeans look like what H. S. Thompson describes the imaginary dope fiend wearing in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. When he and Accosta are at the district attorneys’ conference on drugs, Thompson imagines memeographed bulletins being posted in locker rooms describing dope fiends. Indeed. Know Your Dope Fiend. LOL.

  14. Wow… It took me days to reply again because I didn’t think it was worth it but really? Comparing PRPS to Ed Hardy should get you kicked off the internet. Not just your comment deleted. The two top jeans are very extreme examples of his work. They look exactly like ones you would find in Levis archieves and if you found a pair they would be worth a small fortune. Those are by far not representatives of what all his denim looks like. Let’s do a field test…. Go to the mall and look at denim

  15. Sorry…. I’m on the ed hardy of phones not to mention nj transit…. Lets go to the mall… Not bloomingdales but just your average mall. Go to jcrew, macys, polo, even old navy and look. Everything has dry process. Sanded whiskers, tacking, etc. Go to Target and look at denim. Will be the same. It’s harder to find denim with nothing on it.

    • Not hard at all Freed. I don’t shop at any of the places you mentioned, at least not for denim. Oh, and the last time I was at Macy’s (about a month ago) they had shrink to fit 501s. You’re obviouly not looking too hard. And the difference between the distressed jeans in the Levis archive and these phony things is that the Levis weren’t PREdistressed. Someone wore em to get em that way. Those of us who really know what style is wouldn’t be caught dead in predistressed clothing of any sort. It just reeks of pretentiousness man…

  16. I don’t personally shop those places either it was an exercise to show 90% of denim out there has some sort of dry process simulating wear. I do shop at all those places regularly for work though because I’m in retail and I need and want to as know as much as I can about what everyone is doing from price points to store fixtures on all retail levels. You obviously can find raw denim as well. I’m not trying to continue a pissing match but you need to look up pretentiousness. Just because its a style you don’t like doesn’t mean the person that does has no “style” or what you define as style. That is pretentious. Its like saying “you don’t like that painting? Well you just don’t understand it…” I agree that the top photos above that are simulating a pair of 1800 era mining pants found in wyoming or whatever are way over the top and I would never personally purchase that particular jean but as I stated in my first comments…This guys has tremendous talent and his product is great its just not for everyone. However… There is no way he can be compared to Ed Hardy or Affliction or any fist pumping brand. Its completely a different level. If you have never checked a pair out in hand…please do.

  17. Fair enough. I guess I lump that look in with the Affliction/Ed Hardy crowd because that’s what it makes me think of. People who pay too much for clothing in an attempt to look stylish, but have no clue what real style is. You yourself say you wouldn’t wear them. Why is that? I bet you’re not willing to admit the real reason… I bet you’ll say “It’s just not my thing”. Well, why is that? I know why, but I’d just like to hear you admit it.

  18. Jesus! Your like a dog with a bone! I mea who really cares! So what if these jeans are for the “weekend warrior” dudes who don’t have the luxury/time to break in a pair of dry’s. Does not mean they don’t have the eye or appreciation it takes to do so.

    It’s the train spotter comments above that makes me wish I didn’t work in the industry!

    If you had half of the tech or creative knowledge that Donwan does in any area in life you wouldn’t be still reading this thread.

    Give credit where it’s due.

  19. Because…… They are pretentious? It that the real reason? Ok you got me… After all that I finally admit it. I was faking it the whole time. I’m a insecure douche… I buy whatever I see in US magazine when I can’t steal a People mag from my tanning salon. You got me… You win…

    But seriously…. You should go look at his stuff it’s off the charts. You obviously are going by these two pictures to base your opinion and have never actually seen the stuff so really it’s all without merit or support. That’s why you lumped it all together.

    I don’t really know what you are getting at with what the real reason is, but as I said two times previously. These two pictures are definitely over the top when it comes to what he designs. If I had a table in front of me with maybe the 9 different washes he was offering for the season… I would absolutely consider them but I would probably go for something not so extreme. I’m old and can’t pull those off. But the ones I’m wearing right now even though I ruined them by washing them too much, are killer.

    Good battle brother…

  20. Hahaha…… right on Freed. I’m not hatin on the dude that made these, he’s obviouly smart enough to know where the money is. Maybe I would like a pair of his jeans, but the only jeans I’ve found that aren’t 501s that I might be interested in (if it weren’t for the cost) are exact copies of old 501s. I’ve yet to see a pair of jeans that fit and look as well as (Made in USA) 501s, so why fix what ain’t broke….

  21. JP, FREED, CA, Your discussion, along with the comments of the others, is exactly the reason why I like this blog so much. This discussion and similar discussions on the motorcycle articles, and elsewhere, are a tremendous education to an unsophisticated person and possible poseur. I love my 501s too, probably wash them too much and when they develop holes and tears I throw them away (probably a fashion error now). If I could afford Mr. Donwan’s jeans I might buy a pair out of appreciation. I see and appreciate the “art” in the distressed examples–but wouldn’t buy them either CA. One sad thing though is that Levis are mostly made in the third world now; the Dominican Republic, Mexico, etc. I’ll stick with my Levis though, even though many folk wear Wranglers around here. And I’m wishin’ y’uns all the best.

  22. Good piece JP, I had no idea there was a much higher quality denim available. I’m tired of the department store Levi’s, Diesel and the like don’t interest me. I think can justify purchasing the PRPS Goods Barracudas when my tax return arrives. I can’t imagine someone actually wearing the Noir examples you’ve shown, I’d display them as artwork. Japanese, and Europeans too, seem to be more appreciative of 50’s-70’s American pop culture than many Americans, but the hot rod/motorcycle types in America are bringing a lot more attention to it.

  23. Prps is definitely one of the better denim brands out there. it’s not for everyone, but if you are looking for well done denim with character, prps is the best option. RRL comes a close second, but Prps is great at adding character to any shade/wash color. i specifically like the treatments he does to darker hue denim. Deep dark selvage denim with rips, slashes, abrasions,whiskers, baked creases and the likes…love em! And of course there is a hint of pretension in owning a pair of his jeans. But it’s subtle because there are no big logos or stitching to broadcast the brand, one can only tell by truly looking at the craftsmanship or the treatment of the wash to know they are PRPs. I buy this brand because they are unique, the craftsmanship is spectacular and the fit and details are amazing. When you look at the collection of denim brands out there, so many are doing the same thing. It’s easy to get bored and desire something more unique. For me the Prps Noir collection provides the uniqueness and attention to detail i look for in my denim. both RRL and Prps for me right now are the go to brands for quality denim with character.

  24. Just remembered…..

    This idea is nothing new. I remember a friend of mine coming back from New York (where she was from) in ’88 with a pair of jeans that had been pre-soiled. I laughed so hard at those things that I think she was too embarrassed to wear them after that. Never saw her in ‘em anyway. She was pretty up on the latest fashion, and had a pretty good fashion sense in my opinion, but those jeans had me laughing for weeks.

    Those of us (I’m a mechanic by trade) who get our jeans to look like the pair at the top would likely not wear those in public. I have a few pair of Levis that are pretty grungy and in need of repair, but none as bad as these ones. The only reason I keep the grungy ones is because Made In USA Levis are getting harder to come by these days, and when you have a pair that fits great, they’re hard to let go of.

    I’m starting to soften on the idea of predistressed jeans (though I’d never wear a pair myself). I’m pretty well-travelled, but sometimes I forget the open minded perspective I’ve gained from living/travelling abroad. Cheers to Senor Donwan for his attention to detail and excellent execution.

  25. As JP says, wear what you love. But I’ll never get it. Maybe it’s because I’m an old guy, but I’ll buy a pair of Dickies jeans for $25 and wear them for years. I can’t belive people spend even a hundred dollars on a pair of jeans. But what the hell do I know, I wear a Timex watch, too. Great blog, etc.

  26. It just blows my mind that people would spend this kind of money on jeans–but then sometimes I’m blown away on the amount of money I spend on my motorcycle habit.
    My clothes are as rag-tag as that pair of jeans at the top of the page and I don’t have anything decent to wear to work anymore.
    This guy is probably a great tailor, but to me this is just putting a price tag on blood, sweat, and grease (good for him, if they buy it, make it). Your jeans should be wrecked by you, not by a belt sander.
    Hey if you want a quick way to wreck a pair of jeans–start riding old bikes. I’ve never blown out so many knees and asses. Honestly, I’ve ruined every pair of pants I own. It’s grease stains, snagging cotter pins, sliding sideways down a muddy road in your brand new cords (just making a quick test run he says).

  27. They look just like my work jeans. And mine are artistic, too. every tear tells a story of a fabricated Aston martin sheet metal part, every oil stain is a rebuilt lamborghini engine.

    Gotta love marketing, and the fools/tools that fall for it :-)

    • Ha! I gotta agree on this one. They’re just a pair of JEANS for crying out loud!.I get most of the generally agreed upon beautiful designs, Italian cars, British motorcycles, electric guitars, guns, etc. But for the life of me I just don’t get overpriced jeans that look like crap. I like my $40.00 pair that look like crap – but I spent very little and they look “distressed” through my hard work. Anyway – glad someone is making a living doing this, I just shake my head at it.

  28. To mechanic work and riding motorcycles I’ll add doing metal sculpture…I can (what my wife calls) ruin a pair of jeans quickly…I don’t see the problem with wearing them in public..but she does. Believes I look like a bum. My thing is I don’t want to change trousers just to go from one thing/place to another…but a fashion statement? It’s one thing to wear a Carhartt something or other, it’s another to emulate every road construction crew member’s pants and think you’re hip, imo…

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