Madewell vs Levi’s Jeans: Which Is Better?

When it comes to jeans, and comparisons between jeans brands I’m always keen, enthusiastic, and inquisitive to know which ones are the best to buy. Feel free to call me Jeans Freak!

As a person who loves elevated basics and certainly does not fancy repeating outfits, it has been convenient for me to have a variety of basics in my closet.

This has enabled me to amass a wide range of styles to satisfy my fashion desires and make incredible fashion statements.

Having purchased some pieces from both Madewell and Levi’s brands, if I am being honest, I love them both.

But you know, there must be comparisons, and that’s why I am taking this moment to walk you through the qualities peculiar to both brands and which I prefer the most. 

The Difference Between Madewell and Levi’s

The striking feature which makes the difference between the Madewell and Levis jeans I purchased is the material composition.

Madewell was built with a mixture of four different fibers, which are cotton, Tencel, polyester, and elastane. Levi’s jeans, on the other hand, were completely made of cotton fiber.

Materials used in the construction of both jeans have their roots in natural sources.

Just as cotton has its source from the cotton plant, Tencel, which makes up the highest composition of the materials used in the Madewell jeans, has its source from lyocell trees, which are regenerated into fibers to produce apparel.

Madewell vs Levi's

History of Madewell Jeans

The origin of Madewell, we can say, transcended through its family to the position it is now. Dan Nosowitz, who we all know to be the founder of the brand, is the one who brought the brand back to life.

Arthur Cinader is the originator of the brand. He started a workwear company in New England called Madewell.

Due to certain factors, the clothing company stopped functioning as it shut down. In 2006, making it the 17th year of its closure, J.Crew, which had no part in the history of the company, re-launched it as a clothing company based on women’s outfits.

Millard Drexler, who is the CEO of the brand, acquired the logo and trademark of the brand from the first clothing company created in their lineage by his great-grandfather (New Bedford Mass Work Wear Company), making Madewell its sister brand.

In the year 2015, during an interview with Mr. Drexler, he told The New York Times that he wanted Madewell to be the Levis of its generation.

The brand declared that it would provide women with outfits consistent with their heart’s desires and not lacking in quality.

They were bent on producing iconic jeans, not necessarily trendy or having a look that is extremely girly but cool enough to portray a modern, upbeat statement.

Just like other prominent brands like Levi’s and Zara, Madewell is inspired by fashionable, traditional Americana.

They offer slim, straight, and relaxed-cut styles. 

Pros of Madewell Jeans

  • Ultimate comfort.
  • Durable.
  • Accommodative.
  • Stylish.
  • Premium denim. 

Cons of Madewell Jeans

  • Heavyweight. 
  • Non- breathable.
  • Pricey.

History of Levi’s jeans

Madewell vs Levi's

In California in 1873, miners needed tough pants to withstand the wear and tear of the mine. A Bravarian dry goods salesman named Levi Strauss and a tailor named Jacob Davis were granted a patent to put rivets on pants at points of strain. It was a simple idea for a simple product.

The 501 began its life serving miners, farmers, laborers, and ranchers, all the way to factory and construction workers. As the American industry evolved, so did the 501. It changed as work changed. To date, 501 continues to serve workers from all walks of life.

For the first time, western films of the 30s made the country piece of the cowboy a lifestyle. People also started wearing 501’s basically for their fit and looks. Nonetheless, function always informed its evolving design.

In 1935, the first women’s 501 jeans appeared. They were in the Vogue magazines later. They had come a long way from the mine. By the 50s, Hollywood stars had elevated this humble utilitarian garment to a newfound glamourous status.

The 501 became a fashion icon worn by people from all walks of life and has stayed true to its original build quality, which makes it the most preferred pair of Levi’s jeans.

Pros of Levi’s jeans

  • 100% cotton.
  • perfect fit.
  • Super relaxed.
  • Durable.
  • Iconic style.
  • Classic construction.

Cons of Levi’s Jeans

  • They have a large variety, which makes it difficult to choose from.

Head-To-Head Comparison between Madewell and Levi’s Jeans

Right away, we will be delving into the comparison between both brands. We will be looking out for their qualities under the following features: 

  • Price.
  • Build Quality.
  • Stitching.
  • Fit and Size.
  • Materials.
  • Design and Style.


While I was purchasing both pairs of jeans, the Madewell jeans were on the higher end than Levi’s.

I thought for a moment, “Aren’t cotton-based pieces supposed to be more expensive?” but I understood better. The technology used in producing a pair of Madewell is way costlier than producing a pair of Levi’s.

Quite a number of processes are undergone before arriving at the beautiful Madewell jeans. This is particular to the Tencel fiber, most prominent in its material composition.

The fabric is fickle, which makes it very demanding of very sharp professional services. The Levi’s jeans were sold at the rate of $128 and Madewell at $132.

Build Quality

Madewell vs Levi's

The Madewell jeans are built with a mixture of fibers, which makes them super stretchy, but they still have a denim feel.

This is not the same as Levi’s jeans, which are made of one material (cotton). It has a sturdy feel and is non-stretchy.

After wearing both jeans consistently, I realized some spaces around my knees and back seat. The Madewell jeans began to feel loose as they became extra stretchy, losing their original shape.

The Levi’s jeans felt magical each time I washed them. It hugged my body nicely, retaining its jean feel and not leaving any space whatsoever.

I understand it is normal if jeans fade during laundry. Nonetheless, some jeans bleed out enormously, making them lose almost all their colors, which makes them desirable.

The materials used in the construction of Madewell jeans make them unable to hold their color after some washing.

After a series of washes (on cold and hanging to dry), I noticed that Levi’s retained more of its color and didn’t fade out as much as Madewell did.

If you do not treat stains as soon as they happen, it will cause your favorite Madewell jeans or Levi’s to suffer damage.

This is because they both take up stains so quickly. The more you leave the stains, the more they soak up into the fiber of the jeans, leaving a lasting stain.

However, during laundry, stains on the Madewell jeans came off faster than on the Levi’s.


The type of stitching used on both jeans is decorative, and it adds a fascinating detail.

The Levi’s jeans were a bit lengthier and when I tried folding them, I realized I could rock them that way.

The tailored stitching on the Levi’s is so elegant that you can fold the hem of the jeans as a style because they give a beautiful detail even when exposed.

On the other hand, Madewell has its elegant stitching limited to the outlook and so you can most preferably wear them straight without rolling them up.

Size and Fit

I bought a pair of Madewell skinny jeans in a size 25 instead of 26 because Madewell is known for running a lot larger sizes.

I love how the Madewell jeans really hugged and accentuated my curves, making me look curvier while retaining their stretch.

The 9-inch high rise is superb, and the stretchy material elongates my legs just long enough without really chopping off my torso.

The Madewell jeans have a curvy line. The curvy line accounts for how big your butt is without adding all that extra fabric you can get from normal-sized pants.

The 501’s series has many different styles, cuts, and colors, but I opted to purchase the original style. I had to size up for this one, and I recommend that you go to Levi’s store and try them on before you buy them.

The high-rise waist was a little bit snuggly, although I had to belt up, so I don’t feel uncomfortable pulling up my jeans at every move I make.

It fits well around my thighs, all the way down, and, surprisingly, also around the waist. The fit around the leg is a very flattering one. It has that tapered cut, so it is more fitted around the ankles.

Madewell runs larger. While the Levis are true to size, especially on the waistline, there is a lot of gapping on the waist and this is a feature I didn’t find on Levi’s jeans.

The Levi’s jeans had more stretch retention, making them have a snug fit on my waist.


The fabric for this denim is 44% cotton, 42% Tencel, 13% polyester, and 1% elastane.

That got my attention because of the 42% Tencel. So the Tencel lyocell is woven into the other fibers and that’s what gives the denim this soft, luxurious feeling which makes you want to live in them forever.

Tencel is a man-made fiber but is produced out of natural materials and is eco-friendly, sustainable, versatile,  easy to maintain, and incredibly soft.

They are also pretty stretchy and they are thicker denim, which I think is interesting because they just suck you in comfortably.

The Levis are made of 100% cotton. It’s a beautiful, tough, and non-stretch denim that you have to break in, and that’s what makes them magical and fun in my opinion.

Although many people find rigid denim uncomfortable to wear, I love the feel and look. The thing with 100% denim is that they must be worn repeatedly. It is a process, but it will eventually adjust to your body.

They are built like perfect vintage jeans and have a longer life span that can last you forever. They are also super comfortable and lightweight.

Although I don’t know the actual weights of both types of denim, with hand feel, the Madewell jeans feel thicker than Levi’s jeans. 

Design and Style

Madewell vs Levi's

Talk about design and style. Levi’s is an icon when it comes to variety. Ranging from the 501s to the 541s, it was overwhelming getting to the store and seeing numerous designs and styles to choose from.

There is skinny, slim, boot cut, tapered, dad, and mom jeans available.

The most prominent Madewell jeans, on the other hand, were designed to make you look curvier. Apart from that, they have a skinny, slim, and straight fit.

The 501 is Levi’s’ most chic pair of jeans. They have a high-rise bottom fly and a tapered leg. The inseam is 28 inches, which falls right at my ankle.

It’s just long enough that I don’t need to hang them. I came to realize that the back pockets in the Madewell jeans are more flattering than Levi’s jeans.

They are set just a little bit higher and it feels perfect and not so much like the wedgy Levi’s jean where it is obviously making you look like you have a pretty nice booty.

In my opinion, it has that nice middle ground that makes you a level of confidence and you can go all day without having to worry so much about the back of your jeans.

Final Verdict

I choose Levi’s over Madewell jeans because my 501 slim jeans are not as skinny as typical skinny jeans. It’s made of 100% thick, beautiful, and non-stretch cotton material.

On the other hand, Madewell made the slim jeans look skinny and the outlook made me uncomfortable. 

Levi’s is an iconic brand. I love a brand with history because it makes me appreciate the brand even more. I appreciate the hard work, dedication, and craftsmanship that go into making the pieces.


To bring the comparison between both brands to a close, I would love to state that preference is the major factor in purchasing from any brand.

I believe this article has given you a clue to help you purchase the pair of jeans that fit your taste.


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