All Aboard the Hype Train - Jomers Impressions (MiUSA and MiHK)

Jomers Barstow Chino - Indigo Chambray

Trying to buy anything from Jomers feels like you're waiting outside Walmart on Black Friday morning for a Tickle Me Elmo, shoulder to shoulder with a thousand guys who really love Sesame Street. Prior to the scheduled release of any new Jomers product, hundreds of hopeful men plop themselves in front of their computers waiting for just a glimpse at some of the new fabrics posted through the company's Twitter account. As countdown approaches, a refresh frenzy starts on their new products page until, in one magical breathless moment, ten or so different chinos (or shorts, or tees, etc.) suddenly appear. The madness that ensues typically leaves the entire stock run through in seconds to minutes. In fact, the top comments on deal forums for Jomers alerts routinely include "if you're reading this, it's too late."

The amount of hype Jomers has been able to generate and maintain since their launch a few years ago is really something. In fact, it's been enough to keep me from buying anything from them for quite a while after giving it a moderate effort, setting an alarm a few times and coming back with nothing but an empty cart and a sour taste from the whole process. But as someone who loves interesting fabrics and prides himself on hunting out great value, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I had to see for myself if the juice was worth the aggravatingly difficult squeeze.

Jomers Shorts - Homespun Cotton
In May of this year, Jomers announced they were expanding their previously exclusive NYC-based manufacture to include facilities in Hong Kong for certain releases due to the inability to meet demand as the company continued to grow. Given that Jomers has prided themselves on being a MiUSA clothing company to this point, it was surprising to many, though they noted in an email to their customers that the only noticeable difference in the Chinese-made clothing would be a lower price - same standards, same fabrics, same construction. As it happens, the indigo chambray chinos I bought were made in HK. I didn't have any particular agenda at the outset about seeking out strictly the HK or USA-made clothing - they just happened to be in stock and I liked them. I also bought a pair of the shorts on a different drop in grey lightweight homespun cotton that were made in their Manhattan facilities, giving me the ability to compare the two side by side in an apples to apples comparison.

Design, Materials, and Construction


Jomers fabric preview
The entire philosophy for Jomers (pronounced like the name "Joe" plus "mers" - I asked) centers around the idea of producing high quality affordable menswear staples, starting initially with chinos and later expanding into wool trousers, shorts, tees, polos, belts, and suiting. In particular, they tend to use interesting and higher end textiles such as Indian madras, Kramerton army cloth, and Japanese chambrays, just to name a few, with prerelease product shots often comparing their garments against higher priced niche brands like Engineered Garments using the exact same fabrics. The homespun-style cotton used on the shorts I purchased, for example, were also used for an EG Bedford jacket in the past. On the chinos, the indigo chambray is a beautiful lightweight steel blue with a slightly coarse hand - my favorite of the two, and a perfect choice for warmer days.


Aside from some of the more interesting and avant-garde textiles in the product lineup, the remainder of the design is classic and familiar in keeping in line with the large customer base Jomers targets. They may share some of the same fabrics with EG, but you won't find any of the characteristic quirky pockets or unconventional design details that you might in a niche brand. That makes sense, as not everyone wants something like that - in fact, I would wager most don't.

Stitching is decent in regard to density and cleanliness on both the chinos and the shorts, with a couple stray loose threads you might find on any pair of pants from $10-1000. I wouldn't say that construction in general is particularly notable otherwise, though, as you may be able to appreciate in a close comparison shot between the chambray chinos from Jomers and a pair of Baird McNutt linen J. Crew pants I picked up recently for around the same price (less if you factor in hemming).

Jomers chambray chinos detail vs. J. Crew linen 

MiUSA vs MiHK



Between the MiUSA and MiHK products there doesn't seem to be a clear drop off in quality, as advertised. It's interesting, though, that the two differ quite a bit upon close inspection in many of their features, including dark brass-toned YKK zippers on the HK pants vs. silver-toned unbranded zippers on the US shorts (of which I actually like the YKK better) and even, surprisingly enough, different fonts for the Jomers branded tags. The waistband fabric on the HK pants is also softer, a little more rumpled, and less fine than that on the US model, the buttonholes are sewed differently, the structure of the button closure at the waist is patterned differently, the fly is reinforced on the US model, etc. - there are tiny details throughout that appear consistently different between MiUSA and MiHK products upon reviewing product pictures on Jomers' site. The seams on the inside are also finished quite differently, with the HK pair leaving about an inch of fabric on each side vs. tighter (and possibly neater, it's a little hard to tell with the thread color) seams on the US pair. Though I don't expect it to be an issue in terms of longevity, I would argue that it's a little bit of a grey area calling the design and construction "the same," technically.

Stitching Detail: Left - USA, Right - HK

Waist Closure: Left - USA, Right - HK

Tag Differences: Top - HK, Bottom - USA

Fly Detail: Left - USA, Right - HK

Sizing, Fit, and Styling

Also Pictured: Henley - J. Crew, Shoes - Buttero

For reference, I'm around 5'11" and 155 lbs, usually wearing a size 31 on a true 33" waist. The two questions I see asked about Jomers' fit the most are waist sizing and how they fit compared to Levi's 511's, which seem to have developed into something of a gold standard fit for many younger guys out there. Well let me just crush your dreams right now before we get too far and say it's been years since I've had a pair of 511's on, so I can't comment on that unfortunately.

What I can say is that they fit like a slim straight with a little room for drape throughout the line of the leg and thigh. If you're looking for something like a true skinny fit or an aggressive taper you won't find that here, though Jomers has hinted in the past they may be working on some more fits. For waist sizing, Jomers uses approximately the standard 2" vanity sizing you will find almost everywhere, so if you take a 31 waist in Gap or Banana Republic that should work for you in Jomers. I've heard some people comment that they have sizing differences between the HK and USA versions - my HK pants were truer to convention, measuring at 33" for a 31 tag, and the USA 32.5" for the same 31.


It's hard to argue with a nice slim straight - it's almost universally approachable and I didn't find any aspect of their version of it to be oddly proportioned or uncomfortable. An important thing to note is that Jomers come standard with a fixed inseam length - 8" for shorts, 34.5" for chinos, and 36" on the dress wools. I tend to cuff my chinos anyway, but many would choose to have their tailor hem them (a necessity on the wool pants). Some may also find the 8" inseam on the shorts a little high, which is on the shorter side of most mainstream retailers in the same price bracket.

Also Pictured: Espadrilles - Soludos

You can wear chinos with just about anything, though the lightweight chambray with contrast stitching drapes and wears similarly to a breezy linen, and definitely on the more casual end of the spectrum. I have to say I love wearing these, and much more than a pair of chambray pants I have from J. Crew due to the quality of the fabric in this particular instance.

This post may be updated at a later date with fit pictures for the shorts, but for the moment you have been spared pictures of my stick legs and knobby knees. If it helps, picture in your mind some subtly interesting shorts on an ostrich or something, which should give you a general approximation of the overall visual impact.

Impressions and Value



My Jomers chinos were not made by a Chinese master at the top of a foggy mountain temple, and my Jomers shorts have not magically transformed my stork legs into those of Michelangelo's David. From the buzz that reaches a fever pitch every time new products drop, you might be forgiven for thinking they're made by the greatest craftsmen in the world and that they're giving them away for the lint in your pocket. I'm not sure that expectation is fair to anyone, honestly, including Jomers.


Compared to their main competitors, J. Crew seems to be the some of the closest in terms of general styling and pricing when on sale, though they're notorious for having an inflated MSRP and forcing you to play the sales game. Side by side, it's not obvious to me that either comes out as a dominant winner for construction quality, and J. Crew doesn't get enough credit for some of the fabrics and design details they employ from time to time, especially in the Wallace and Barnes line. The same can be said from a construction standpoint, however, about some of the more expensive pants I own. I'm still a little unsure what I ultimately think about the differences between the HK and USA models, but it's something to keep in mind on future drops.

Regardless, these are quality clothes made in some great fabrics, sold at a no-nonsense affordable price point. That alone should be enough to warrant the price of admission for someone looking to supplement or build up some basics in his closet. It's hard to imagine how they pull off their margins for their MiUSA line, honestly, and I suspect the value to cost ratio is even higher for their more expensive wool and suit lines. I can probably count on one hand the amount of things I would pay "full price" for, and this is one of them.

Being a fairly aggressive value shopper often limits your choices to what's left in your size and waiting for the right time to pounce. There's often a small window of opportunity that closes if you aren't really on top of things. With Jomers, you can have your pick from a diverse set of interesting fabrics as long as you're in the right place at exactly the right time (I would suggest you follow their twitter account for specific drop times and fabric previews), can make quick snap decisions on the fly, and have a very quick trigger finger (I would also recommend setting up an account and entering in your address and credit card prior so you don't waste time on it once the madness begins). Just make sure to stretch beforehand. Don't want to pull a hammy on the sprint.

**Update 8/4/17 - It's been a year since I've written this post, and I think the benefit of time has given me some clarity. I like the MiUSA line better. It fits a little bit tidier than the HK model and I think it edges out the HK for finishing as well. These days there's a lot more availability for Jomers, though as you'd imagine it seems like that is limited to the MiHK lines. The price point for MiUSA is still hard to believe, but I'm not sure Jomers packs the same value punch they did now that most of their products are MiHK. That's not a knock on the product, but rather a reflection on the competitiveness of the market. I can get a pair of pants at J. Crew for equal or less with similar construction (sometimes better for Wallace and Barnes) in very similar fabrics that I don't have to hem - and in multiple fits. Those are made in China as well, but that was Jomers' real trump card - MiUSA.

I'm reminded of a run-in I had with a special type of person on Reddit perpetuating the myth that no one else does this kind of work at the price point or with the same level of fabrics - the kind of person that blindly accepts group think and then refuses to use any critical thinking that confronts his biases. During that exchange, I was challenged to find a similar product at J. Crew, in season, and at the same price point. If successful, he would pay to ship a pair to me.

It took me three weeks. On top of that, it was $1 cheaper in tax free states shipped (or $1.70 more expensive in clothing-tax states). Needless to say, he did not follow through.

So what's the point? The point is that Jomers is still a good product in its own right. MiUSA represents a better value in the market, though not necessarily for everyone. There's no reason to act like they've given you a $200 product for $40, but they are definitely worth paying attention to on drop days on their own merits. **

Jomers Website

Pros

  • Great fabric choices
  • Approachable fit
  • Decent construction
  • Affordable, especially for the MiUSA products

Cons 

  • Not many fit or inseam options
  • Decent, though not superlative construction
  • Variation between the MiHK and MiUSA products
  • Need to sacrifice a goat to have a chance at buying some if you're not checked out in 30 seconds
  • Scarcity of widely available goats, your mileage may vary

Comments

Popular Posts