And… we’re back! After the last run of trouser reviews you probably thought there was no more to be said about a pair of trousers, and you were almost right. Well, apart from being wrong, as will be proven as I work through a fresh stack of two-legged attire suitable for the colder season. This will most likely include some heavyweight denim, some industrial grade corduroy, and more tweed than you would shake a stick at, if you were in mind to shake sticks at tweed, which sounds like utter nonsense, right?
Today though, something a little similar and at the same time quite different to what has gone before. In fact, to highlight what is different about this pair of trousers, I’m going to mix up the order in which I present my findings. I’ll start out describing what we have, look at how it’s made, and end up with where it comes from and what this means. Bear with me as I work through this carefully constructed narrative.
What we have is a pair of tapered jeans in what appears to be around 14oz wabash style fabric, designed in a vintage style, with quite heavy handed artificial ageing. The tapering is unusual, as trousers of the era this sets out to replicate tended to have much straighter legs, but I’ll admit to preferring a more tapered leg. The design also follows a typical 5-pocket styling, as far as the first four pockets go. The coin pocket has been dropped though.
Metal buttons and rivets are prominently used, but to add strength at traditional points, and as decoration. The fly has an interesting construction where it has 4 metal buttons, which is a solid and well proven way of closing the fly, but topped by a metal press button where you usually have either another metal button or a larger regular button.
A nice touch is the addition of a rear cinch, which actually has a decent construction with hardware that allows it to be tightened and means you can use the trousers without a belt. Vintage enthusiasts will maybe wonder at the inclusion of both belt loops and a rear cinch, but there was a transitional time when the wearer might like the choice between the two. In any case, the addition of more details is better then less.
I mentioned initially that the artificial ageing was a little heavy handed, and I think the photos speak for themselves. Much of the stripes that make the trousers attractive has been abraded away, and a couple of deeper cuts have been made on each leg. I think the effect would have been nicer with very much less of this process. I wouldn’t mind a little ageing, as the vintage look works very well with the style and soft cotton fabric.
So with the opportunity of using belt or rear cinch, it comes as a slight surprise to find the inclusion of buttons for a set of proper braces as well. Go full monty on this and you’ll certainly never have a problem with trouser droop!
Construction throughout is pretty decent. Rivets or bar tacks at points that can use the strengthening, metal buttons on the fly, working hardware on the cinch and almost all the seams are felled. The pocket bags are of a pleasing and well matched cotton fabric as well.
The fabric itself is described as 67% cotton and 33% poly. It’s impossible to say why this strange mix is used, but most likely for reasons of keeping the price down and having a fabric that can withstand the ageing process. It feels just like a regular denim fabric of middle to light weight.
Yes, the ageing is a bit overdone. A little or even none would have been fine, but removing the stripes entirely and cutting into the fabric is too much.
Fit-wise they are pretty good. As mentioned, the legs are tapered, so they don’t have the vintage boxy look. The front pockets feel a little slack, though that isn’t a huge issue. The trousers are marked as 32″, though are more realistically 34″, so quite a bit of vanity sizing there (the only other remaining pair were a size 38″, so they must be absolutely huge).
Any other issues? Well, the press button does not work at all, as just a little pressure has it popping open. This means that you really need to wear a belt, and if you’re wearing a belt you can’t really wear braces as well, and with the rear cinch neither belt nor braces are strictly speaking required to hold the trousers up. Yet you can’t wear braces or rely on the cinch with the damn press button undoing all the time. It’s quite unbelievable that no one spotted this fatal flaw before they signed it off for production. Heads should roll!
Yet, in sum, the trousers aren’t bad, and even at full retail price they’re not that expensive. Nowhere near what a similar style would cost from those we normally look to for trousers. This is primarily because we are dealing with a company and production location different to where we usually look to for our retro-styled strides.
First of all they are made in Bangladesh, known primarily for it’s nominal wages for garment labourers and the poor conditions they labour under. The maker may claim that all their garments are ethically produced and everyone concerned is pair a living wage, but there is reason to be skeptical.
Secondly, they are from H&M. Yep, that’s right, from one of the leaders in high street cheap and fast fashion comes a pair of trousers that almost manage a full score in design, construction and details, and at a price very much lower than the usual. Someone there was clearly keeping an eye on the vintage denim styles and decided to slip these into production. A shame the designer made such an all-mighty cockup.
Right now you’re probably reeling as hard as I was when I found this on the sales rack for the princely sum of 7 pounds (reduced from 45). And I was there purely for research purposes, honest!
Oddly, I couldn’t find these in the H&M online shops, so I can’t comment further on availability.
H&M do a “Conscious” line of denim-style garments that is actually worth a look. Said to be both more sustainable and ethical than their usual fayre, the selection has some decent designs and is probably available on overfilled sales racks at an H&M shop near you already. Worth a look.