Rustler vs Wrangler & Who Makes Rustler Jeans
Stylethority is reader-supported. When you buy through links on the site, we may earn a commission.
It’s a bit funny how this article on Rustler vs Wrangler came to be. A few weeks ago I had a friendly argument with a person close to me on the topic of work jeans. He insisted that Rustler is a stand-alone company and a direct competitor to Wrangler.
He wouldn’t budge until we thoroughly checked who actually makes Rustler jeans.
It’s a bit of a rabbit hole so let’s go through the details together. I’ll also discuss why I think Rustler jeans like the Classic Regular Fit are a better choice sometimes.
Cheap, yet well-made straight leg jeans. No-frills, just pure denim for the working man.
Who makes Rustler Jeans?
The quick answer would be Kontoor Brands, but that’s not where the story ends. Thought you’ve heard the name before?
You probably have, as Kontoor Brands is also the manufacturer of Wrangler jeans. Going further, if you check out Rustler’s site, it’s a subdomain of Wrangler – rustler dot wrangler dot com.
But Kontoor Brands isn’t a stand-alone entity. The company is a spin-off from VF Corporation, and a pretty fresh one at that – the spin-off happened in 2019.
Kontoor has an exclusive focus on denim apparel. Aside from owning Wrangler and Rustler, they are the company behind Lee and Rock & Republic.
The mothership VF Corporation has a hold on several other leading workwear brands. They acquired Dickies in 2017, and Timberland shoes also fall under their umbrella. VF is also active in the outdoor segment, where they own two leading merino wool brands – Smartwool and Icebreaker.
Now that is a handful of acquisitions, ain’t it? Here’s a quick chart I drew up to illustrate the connections better:
So in short, both Rustler and Wrangler jeans are owned by the same company.
Fun fact: Kontoor is a word play on contour, as their brands try to accommodate your body in the best way. Another fact of trivia: VF Corp also owns several outdoor brands for merino wool, including Smartwool which I have a review on.
Now let’s see how they compare to each other.
Rustler jeans vs Wrangler:
Which brand is good for what?
Let’s be honest here: neither of the two jeans brands is in the premium denim segment. Both are affordable choices that focus on cowboy-cut jeans or classic, clean denim.
I mean, everybody knows Wrangler’s 13mwz cowboy jeans – they’re basically an institution by now.
You’ll most probably use both Rustler or Wrangler either for ranch work, some tough battles with backyard maintenance or just to be comfy in simple regular-fit jeans.
Personal recommendation: I really like the Wrangler Authentics line and specifically, the classic 5-pocket regular fit jeans. They’re a step above the usual (cheaper) Wranglers and very, very comfortable.
Best bang for your buck Wrangler jeans. 5-pocket design, slightly stretchy denim for added comfort, and better cotton materials.
Back to Rustler…to some, the brand’s jeans are stupidly cheap. Some refer to them as ‘Wrangler’s lower tier’ even.
Which, obviously, raises the question of whether they’re any good.
My answer would be: good for what?
I’ve always thought of Rustler as a great pick if you know things are going to get ugly and dirty at the ranch or at your job.
You’d use them for some time and then discard them after all the wear and tear gets to them. They’re cheap enough to make it worth it.
Wrangler is better for lighter ranch work or for casual socializing where you want to have a basic, but presentable pair of jeans.
Cheaper than some other denim brands, Wrangler blue jeans nevertheless look good and are very comfortable. With some updated models (like the newer 47mwz jeans I’ve discussed here) you also benefit from convenient pockets with extra space.
One big difference between the Rustler jeans fit compared to Wranglers:
Rustlers are slightly tighter at the waist. Keep this in mind if you prefer to have more space. I know some people prefer a tighter fit, but this never worked for me.
Are Rustler or Wrangler jeans made in the USA?
For Rustler – that’s a straight no. Maybe a few years ago (read: a decade) some of their production might have been local. With economies of scale and at that price, you’re getting Mexican or Chinese manufacture.
(Mostly Mexican in recent years, considering the impact of COVID on far-away logistics).
Things are slightly different with Wrangler, though.
Some of their jeans actually involve local manufacturers like the Wrangler Rooted Collection – you can check their top seller Bootcut Jean.
Wrangler Rooted features denim made of locally grown cotton (in Texas) which also comes from sustainable agriculture. Probably not all parts of the manufacturing process are made in America, but at least you know you’ve got quality materials as the base.
For the fans of local-made jeans. The premium Wrangler collection, featuring Texas-grown denim for a durable, yet comfortable experience.
Where can I buy Rustler jeans?
Rustlers are very easy to get on both Walmart and Amazon. Both storefronts have diverse jeans lineups – the Amazon collection has significantly more customer reviews though. You can check the Rustler collection here.
If you’re not fond of either, you’ll probably find some pairs of Rustler blue jeans at your local Kmart.
Crazy to think that an evening argument with a friend can turn into a full article. I hope I could help you out with, arguably, pretty important questions such as:
- Who makes Rustler jeans and are they good? What’s the Rustler brand history?
- Is there a better jeans brand between Wrangler vs Rustler? In what situations?
- Is any of the two actually made in America?
At the end of the day, both specialize in basic blue jeans. I’ve always thought of denim as boiling down do utility. And when something’s utilitarian, you don’t really want to spend too much on it, right?
If you’ve had experience with both brands, do let me know in the comments. Which ones did you get, did they fit you well, did they last long enough – stuff like this.
- Best Carburetor For Ford 302 & 460: The Classics - March 14, 2023
- Flowmaster Super 10 vs 40 vs Super 44: The Noisy Trio - March 5, 2023
- Flowmaster 40 vs Super 40 vs 50: A Comparison - March 1, 2023
I recently bought a pair of Rustler’s at Walmart. I assumed they were Wrangler as they were mixed in with branded Wrangler jeans. I also bought a pair of actual Wranglers by mistake as I wanted a dark blue pair and just grabbed them after checking the waist/length and type (regular). The Rustlers were 19.97 Canadian and the Wranglers were 27.97 but I didn’t notice until I got home. Turns out they both fit about the same. The Wranglers have the mini pocket and a faux leather patch on the back waistband. The denim seems to be a bit thicker but not really sure. Both are made in Mexico. Can’t complain as I understand that some people will pay over twice as much as my two for one pair of “careful how you wash – if at all” designer jeans.
Thanks for the info.
Thanks for leaving a comment. Considering the stronger USD -> CAD exchange, these prices seem kinda similar to what you can see in the US.
Yeah, I’ve heard more about the increased outsourcing to Mexico compared to China in recent years.
Wranglers should have thicker denim on paper. Obviously, the more premium lines will be thicker, but even the ‘basic’ Wrangler. But who knows with these supply chain disruptions and whatnot…
Best of luck with your new jeans! I agree with you re: just getting a basic pair to be comfy, no designer stuff to tip-toe around 🙂
I decided to get another pair of the Rustlers at Walmart in the “dark wash”. This is how they’re labelled up here. Still $19.97 CDN (14.87 US).
How come rustler jeans 33×32 are so much longer than 32×32?
Sorry for the late reply!
Hmm, which Rustler jeans do you refer to — as in, a specific fit/model, or just generally? I haven’t noticed that much, but then again these are not the sizes I wear…
I bought three pair at Walmart and was not happy on all three the die in left leg on the knee washed away and started to were on the knees not happy
Do you mean Rustler or Wrangler? I’d be surprised if they were Wranglers, as I’ve had better experience with them compared to the cheaper Rustlers.
we have bought about 3 pairs of the Rustler at walmart in this last year all three pairs rip out just left of the right back pocket from the extra stitching of the pocket the rip goes up to the double hem then down two inches below the pocket. My husband raises cow/calf pairs and does a lot of bending and picking up calves. 34 x 30 RN 1302763
Yeah, Rustler jeans definitely get tossed around in short time if there’s more intensive rancho/farm work going on. Some Wranglers have an even tougher back pocket stitching to address that, though they cost a bit more. Rustlers are generally like this from what I’ve seen, yeah.
Bought a pair of Rustler jeans dark blue. Have washed at least 3 times and and when hubby wears them they turn his legs and hands and any skin that touches him blue. I have bought your jeans for a very long time and this is not acceptable!! I am very disappointed. Mary Johnston,650 North St,PO Box 31,Weldon Illinois,61882
We’re simply running a review site, there’s no affiliation between this site and the actual brands. Sorry to hear about your experience, though, I’ve never had such experience with any brand of jeans. Which Rustler did you buy exactly? That’s certainly a weird thing to happen…
Just bought a new pair of Rustler’s from Walmart, made in Kenya.
(I always buy the same style of Rustler and Wrangler–straight leg). The front pockes on the Kenya pair is about 1-1/2″ shorter than the Rustlers and Wranglers made in Mexico that I have.
When I have my iphone in my pocket, I can’t sit down in these Kenya pants. Arrrrrrgh. Never happened before in my life, with any style pants I have worn.
My iphone is not one of those big screen jobs, it’s a small SE. About 5″ long.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
I’ve gotta say….Haven’t seen a made-in-Kenya Rustler pair so far, that’s a first!
Maybe it’s something to do with the changes in the post-Covid 19 supply chain logistics? Cutting corners from the front pockets of all things is a weird design decision…
Hi, I mostly wear Levis 501, Wrangler for everyday use, and just over a year ago we tried Rustler.
My experience so far is that Rustler is more durable than Levis and Wrangler, especially the Rustler cargo jeans.
$23 for a pair of jeans that are great for everyday wear and work is brilliant!
I still wear my selvedge Uniqlo’s for nice jeans! (highly recommend them, quality is amazing with the raw Kaihara Japanese denim).
Thanks for sharing your experience and personal insights. Interesting, haven’t tried the cargo jeans from Rustler to test them out.
Fully agreed with Uniqlo. I’ve had several pairs of their jeans/pants, as well as some Heattech apparel that I got when visiting Japan.
To be fair, though, there was a significant difference in their quality the last time I got a batch (last year) compared to 2017-18. Still insane value for the price, I’ve heard they’re crazy expensive in Europe.
Cheers and happy wearing!
How can I contact Rustler about jeans than I am unhappy with?
I think it’s best to just contact Wrangler, as they’re the ‘mother’ company between these two brands. You can do so from here: https://www.wrangler.com/contact-us.html
Though it might be easier to talk with the place you bought your pair from (Amazon, Walmart, whichever retailer you visited).
I buy rustler jeans at Walmart for everyday use. When they start to wear I use them for work pants. They cost $15.00 and seem to be very rugged and last a long time. I work and play outside and these jeans take a beating. Wouldn’t buy anything else