A few years ago, I was thrilled when Levi's released its line of technical apparel for the transportation cyclist, called the Commuter™ line. To see a major apparel brand embrace city bike riding as a market opportunity reaffirmed why I had started Po Campo: more people were using their bikes for transportation and that the activity required more from your clothes and accessories. However, there was one problem: the original Commuter line only had products for men. Well, this spring Levi's released its Women's Commuter line and I couldn't wait to try the jeans on for size.
I had heard rumors that Levi's was going to be releasing a women's Commuter line but in all honesty I never thought it would actually happen. So, when some of my favorite female-friendly bike shops all began posting on Facebook during the same week that they had just received their first shipment of Commuter Skinny Jeans for women, I could hardly believe it.
So, what makes a Levi's jean a Commuter jean? The four main features are:
- Higher back rise for increased coverage
- Stretch and reinforcement for comfort and durability
- 3M reflective cuffs
- Water and dirt repellent
I was eager to check out the jeans in person and stopped by Chicago's own BFF Bikes to get a pair. They were stocking the Commuter Skinny Jeans in two colors: Black and Cityscape (dark blue).
I normally wear a size 6 or 8 in jeans and have a 29" waist. However, I don't normally wear skinny jeans and wasn't sure if I'd be comfortable in the tight fit. The 29" Cityscape jeans gave me a little gap in the back and felt too snug through the the hips while the 29" Black denim felt a little stretchier and fit my shape perfectly. Therefore, if one color doesn't fit you well, I suggest trying another fabric.
Since purchasing the jeans about 3 weeks ago, I have been wearing them several times a week and have really fallen for them. Here's what I like best:
High rise waist & deep pockets: I find the high waist to be very flattering and more comfortable for an active lifestyle like mine, which includes daily biking and walking as well as activities like moving boxes around Po Campo's warehouse. I don't think I can go back to low-rise pants ever again. The pockets are also deeper and more practical for gals on the go. Sure, I almost always have one of our bike bags with me, but sometimes I just want to run out with my keys, phone and cash, and the pockets work great for that.
Fabric Finish and Stretch: Annie at BFF told me that the denim has a special finish to make them repel dirt and water and that I shouldn't have to wash them very often. I have noticed that dust and such does wipe off pretty easily. I haven't worn them in the rain yet so I can't really comment on water resistance, but I did spill some water on them which just ran off. I have noticed that fluff from sweaters and scarves (Chicago's having a cold spring!) sticks to them, which might be an issue for pet owners dealing with dog and cat hair.
I also really like the stretchiness of the fabric. After wearing the jeans about 10 or 12 times, they still fit as perfectly as when I first tried them on in the dressing room. None of that business of where the denim puckers out by your knees after lots of wear and movement, where you feel like you need to wash them just to return them to their original shape. This is a big "win" for me.
Other comments: The Commuter jeans feature a bit of reflective tape on the inside of the seams by your calf. We try to add hits of reflectivity to all our bike bags too, so I appreciate the nod to safety. That said, it's not a lot of reflective tape so don't forgo your lights and other reflective accoutrements.
The denim does seem lighter weight compared to other varieties of Levi's that I have owned. So far they have held up well so I can't comment if the fabric is actually weaker, but I do know that my legs get really cold when I ride in cool weather. Also, because they are so tight, my thermal tights do not fit underneath. The website refers to its choice of fabrics for the Commuter line as "breathable" and "climate controlled", and I could see them being comfortable when it gets warmer outside. Which, hopefully, it will at some point.
Beyond the product critique, I also really like Levi's brand communication with this new product line. In their marketing video, the women are shown as confident, able and enjoying themselves. I find it to be a refreshingly nice mix of feminine and focused.
Skinny jeans are not the only items in the women's Commuter™ line; they also have jackets and tops with similar technical features. Ideally, buy Levi's® Commuter™ jeans from a female friendly bike shop near you, or online at levi.com.
Have you tried any of the items from the new Levi's Commuter line? Please leave your feedback on their product line in the comments below.