Battle of the Faux Leather Pants: Aritzia's Melina vs. Abercrombie's '90s Straight

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The author in two different pairs of faux leather pants, viewed waist down

Eden Stuart / Unsplash

We put Aritzia's Melina Pants and Abercrombie & Fitch's '90s Straight Pants to the test after receiving complimentary samples from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

There are a few style staples that feel quintessential to a cosmopolitan winter—a camel overcoat, structured handbags, some sort of faux-fur accessory. Toward the top of that list is faux leather pants. Whether paired with an oversized sweater and trendy sneakers for a dressed-down look or worn with a turtleneck and statement necklace for low-maintenance glam, faux leather pants are among the most versatile basics one can have in their closet during the coldest season.

And when it comes to faux leather pants, two pairs currently reign supreme: Aritzia's The Melina and Abercrombie & Fitch's Vegan Leather '90s Straight. Not sure which is right for you?

Over about two months, I put both pairs to the test, wearing them to work, Friendsgiving, and even my birthday party. Read on to find out which one came out on top.

The Contenders

Aritiza The Melina Pant

Aritzia the Melina pant
Aritzia The Melina Pant $148.00

If you follow the fashion girlies, you are well aware of The Melina Pant by Aritzia. Featuring a high rise, straight leg cut, and five pockets, the pants are about as versatile as they come. (Think of the silhouette as a kind of faux leather pair of everyday jeans.) The fabric is 100 percent polyurethane on the outside and 100 percent polyester on the inside. The style is also available in a cropped silhouette and a super-high rise, but I opted for the standard pair in regular length for the sake of this review. The pants retail for $148.

Abercrombie & Fitch Curve Love Vegan Leather '90s Straight Pant

Abercrombie & Fitch 90s Straight Pants
Abercrombie & Fitch Curve Love Vegan Leather '90s Straight Pant $110.00

The Abercrombiessance has been well documented, and for good reason: Over the last couple of years, Abercombie & Fitch has completely re-invented itself from the brand your middle school bullies wore to a destination for chic, minimalist foundation pieces in a variety of sizes. Among those pieces is the Vegan Leather '90s Straight Pant, which sits high on the waist and features five functional pockets; again, a sort of “everyday jeans, but in faux leather” vibe. The fabric is 90 percent polyester, 10 percent elastane, and coated in 100 percent polyurethane. The style is available in standard and curve cuts, and, as someone who jumps to put jeans on, I went for the latter. The pants retail for $110.

What I Considered

Quality and Overall Look: Aritzia 

The author in the Aritzia Melina pant

Eden Stuart

Quality-wise, I’m giving the edge to the Melinas. To be clear: The ‘90s Straights are high-quality pants. But something about the Melinas feels exceptionally luxe. The fabric is slightly heavier and a little softer–the pants just look expensive. Even though I found them to be extremely straight the first time I wore them, they molded to my specific figure pretty well and pretty quickly–another testament, I think, to the quality.

While both pants hit exactly where I wanted them to–right around the top of my ankle–do note that I am 5’7” and long-legged. I’ve known shorter folks, and even those closer to average height, to remark that they find the Melinas specifically to run quite long. (It’s worth noting here that the website does say the pant is meant to hit the ground when the wearer is in flat shoes.)

I do love that the ‘90s Straights have a black button instead of silver, which looks less stark in comparison to the rest of the pant. They also get points for tapering in a bit more at the waist, undoubtedly a function of being curve cut (we’ll dig into that more in a second).

Inclusivity: Abercrombie & Fitch 

Let me tell you: As a smack-dab middle millennial, never in a million years did I think I would be typing the phrase “Abercrombie & Fitch is inclusive,” but a whole lot has changed in the last decade or so. The ‘90s Straight pants are available up to a size 37W in both Curve Love and standard cuts, and extra short, short, regular, and long lengths are offered. Plus, many of the brand’s other vegan leather styles are available in sizes 30+ or XXXL. Speaking of Curve Love: It was a godsend. Thanks to the cut, the ‘90s Straights in the size 6/28 fit perfectly the moment I slipped them on. (The size chart was also very accurate for me.) 

I’m definitely knocking off a few points for the Melina pants for sizes, or more accurately, lack thereof. They are only available up to a US size 16–and considering I wear a 10, that sizing feels super limited.

Variety: Aritzia

I came very close to considering this point a draw, but ultimately the Melinas won by a hair. Abercrombie does offer loads of vegan leather options–from leggings to wide-leg pants, with plenty of flares and cargos in between–but in general, the color options skew very neutral. While most folks looking for faux leather pants are probably going to go for black, brown, or perhaps a shade of white if they’re feeling brave, the original Melina Pant is available in a whopping 27 hues. Am I going to wear cayenne pepper red pants? Probably not. But I love that The Melinas give you the option to get creative if you so choose. (And now that I think about it, those pepper red pants would probably look fabulous with an orange sweater.)

Comfort: Abercrombie & Fitch

The author in the Abercrombie & Fitch faux leather pants

Eden Stuart

Both pants are very comfortable when you put them on–as long as you’re in the right size (and I lucked out with both on that front, using the website size charts alone). You won’t feel stuffed in or unable to move. Where comfort really comes into play is how you feel after about 30 minutes. Namely: By the time I reach the office after my 40-ish minute commute, I am sweating pretty aggressively when wearing the Melina Pant. I still sweat in the 90s Straights–we are talking about faux leather pants, after all–but not as much as I do in the Melinas, and I find by mid-day I feel kinda hot in the Melinas even if I’m just sitting down. This isn’t the case with the 90s Straights.

The Final Verdict

I know, I know… it sounds like such a cop-out to say “it depends.” But, well, when it comes to the Battle of the Aritzia Melina Pant versus the Abercrombie & Fitch '90s Straight Pant, it truly comes down to what you’re looking for. The Melina feels more luxurious and comes in a number of chic and interesting hues, but sizing is limited and if you run hot, you might want to look elsewhere. The '90s Straight, by comparison, comes in many sizes and is about as comfortable as a pair of faux leather pants can be; but if you want unique colors or a higher-end feel, they might not quite meet your mark. I’ll be honest–I’ll be wearing both pairs of pants all winter long.

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