The challenge of finding size-inclusive jeans: ‘I had tears in my eyes – they fit me so well’

Jeans are notoriously hard to shop for. Finding a pair that fits our unique proportions without any weird fabric bunches, gapes at the waist or pinches at the hips can be oddly emotionally draining. Especially since denim jeans are perpetually in style, while the trends that dictate its silhouette are ever changing (skinny, straight, boyfriend, baggy).

When you add the fashion industry’s baffling focus on sizing that’s well below the average person’s size in most western countries, it’s a miracle any of us ever find a pair of jeans that fits. Here four people with diverse body types describe what they look for in a pair of jeans.

‘I’m not interested in suffering for fashion’

Savannah Anand-Sobti, founder of Ladies of Leisure, is so obsessed with comfort she only seeks out jeans made from soft denim with an easy fit that do not require breaking in.

“I’m so over the advice to get them painfully tight because they’ll stretch,” she says. “Just like [with] shoes you have to break in, I’m not interested in suffering pain for fashion.”

Related: How to buy women’s jeans: pick a classic, avoid elastic and always try them on in store

“As a size 14, I often have to look to generic high street store brands,” she says, since independent brands often aren’t good at scaling their samples to jeans and trousers in larger sizes. “It’s very disheartening when a brand’s sizes run small or don’t even cater to you at all.”

When Anand-Sobti is shopping for jeans, she is searching for a hard yes. “Much like anything you buy, you should love yourself sick in them. Love how they make you feel and look,” she says.

“If you’re not sure, you should walk away and think about it. Don’t succumb to social pressure of thinking the shop assistant will think any less of you if you decide to walk out. It’s your money, body and life.”

‘Good weight, good stitching … and a nice curve to the seat’

I have junk in my trunk and thighs which normally means the waist of most jeans end up being too big in order for my thighs and bum to fit,” says model and CEO of Undivided, Toks James. “But as I get older, that seems to be becoming less and less of a problem.”

Related: How to buy men’s jeans: ‘The perfect pair can be your favourite garment for decades’

He only buys G-Star jeans because they cater for his body type and do great leg lengths for tall guys (he’s 193cm). G-Star 3D Scubas are the best jeans he has ever owned.

“They are very stylish, an amazing fit and wash and at [a] good price point. I literally wore them till they shredded,” he says. “If you know the jeans I’m talking about, that was a pretty hard thing to do.”

James looks for jeans with some specific qualities. “A good weight of denim, good stitching and a mix of elasticity but not too much stretch,” he says. “And a nice curve to the seat in order to accommodate ample butts, so when you sit down you’re not showing stuff to strangers that they can’t unsee.”

‘I don’t have the privilege of being picky’

“I’ve only recently gotten back into denim, as I found it really hard to find jeans in my size,” says Mia Dennis. “I find that jeans in bigger sizes often have a huge bulge in the front and a wide gap at the back so it can be really tricky to find a flattering pair.”

The model and body-positive artist says since it can be such a challenge to find plus-size jeans, fit is her only consideration. “I don’t have the privilege of being picky.”

Her favourite jeans are by Ramp Tramp Tramp Stamp. “The hems are adjustable, meaning you can adjust the length, which is great, as my legs are quite short,” she says. “[They are] the best low-waisted jeans and the fit is so flattering on me.

“I had tears in my eyes – they fit me so well and made me feel so great.”

There were not a lot of options … it’s better now’

Musician and model Felix Lozada says it’s challenging to find comfortable jeans. He looks for a mid or lightweight denim, with a bit of stretch, and avoids jeans made from thicker, more rigid denim that doesn’t breathe as easily.

“When I was younger I wore a lot of Levi’s because there were not a lot of options,” he says. Thankfully, “it’s better now”.

The rise of independent brands means he has more designers to choose from. He tries to avoid mass-produced brands and looks for local, small businesses that make high-quality denim and have strong sustainability practices. “My newest favourite is Axl + Co for a comfortable fit,” he says.