Instagram accounts dedicated to archival fashion are nothing new, though few can claim to be as unapologetically off-beat and hyper-focused as @lildenimjean. Created by 18-year-old Max Kaupp and 20-year-old Nick Baur out of Stuttgart, Germany, the page is advertised as a “digital pants museum,” dedicated to chronicling the most outlandish and attention-grabbing trousers across the globe. The account runs the gamut of high-fashion styles and trousers by under-the-radar indie labels, all of which tend toward a streetwise, baggy fit. Recent posts include Dries Van Noten’s fall 2019 tie-dye trousers; the kitschy jeans printed with cartoon figures of Jeantoons, a young artist customizing denim out of Chicago; Kill Bill–themed pants by the British-based House of Errors; and even a pair of granny patch-crochet pants by Dopamiine Online, a small menswear label that’s developed a cult following on Instagram thanks to its one-of-a-kind, upcycled creations.
Kaupp and Baur’s mutual love of pants goes way back. The friends first met on the skateboarding scene in their hometown five years ago, quickly bonding over their shared fashion obsession. “I could always wear a white T-shirt, but I could never wear some plain, clean trousers,” says Baur. “We always try to stand out with what we wear on our legs.” Clearly, they’re not the only ones with a thing for crazy pants. Since launching @lildenimjean last year, they’ve amassed more than 50,000 followers. “We were one of the first to do it, but now there [are] hoodies archives, jackets archives,” says Baur. Kaupp adds, “I think there’s even a sock archives page.”
Beyond the virtual threads, the two have assembled an impressive collection of statement trousers in real life, including hard-to-find pieces from cult Japanese labels such as Kapital and Undercover. They even own a matching pair of multi-pocket jeans by Evisu, the Japanese denim line initially popular in the late ’90s, which is experiencing something of a renaissance with hip-hop artists like Lil Uzi Vert. (Kaupp scored his for $35 on eBay.) “The designer actually started by hand-painting his jeans,” explains Baur. “He painted a seagull-like shape on the back pockets. It looks a bit like the McDonald’s logo.”
In addition to their lives as students—Baur is a major in architecture at the University of Stuttgart, while Kaupp just graduated from the Goldberg-Gymnasium school and is looking to study fashion design—the two friends have begun creating custom pants for a few up-and-coming musicians, including a rapper from Stuttgart who goes by the name of Rin. “His logo is the atomic symbol. So we made white jeans, like work pants, and made a glow-in-the-dark graphic from the symbol,” says Kaupp. “We just do it for people we like.” Though the account is merely a hobby for now, they hope to use their digital pants museum as a springboard for something much bigger. “If we’re going to release our own product in the future, we want it to be perfect,” says Kaupp. “We want to have the sickest pants in the game.”