Help! Cycling and trouser wear

To my utter surprise and dismay I discovered yesterday that my H&M “Mauritz collection” trousers in Moon Tweed had worn through in the crotch area. While denim fans see the infamous “crotch blowout” as something of an expected war injury after a long period of hard use, it’s not something I expect after what I consider to be fairly gentle and sporadic use. I’ve only had these trousers for a year, and probably worn them no more than a couple of dozen times, if that.

Photo 24.11.14, 21.07.08

What I do though is cycle. Back and forth to work. Every day, rain or shine. When it’s raining I wear waterproof gear over my usual clothes, but when it’s dry I just wear my daily getup. For the 20 minute ride it hardly seems practical to be changing clothes at either end.

Photo 24.11.14, 21.07.43

To be fair, this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed a problem with trousers wearing in this spot, though never to this extent, and have ensured that the seat on my bike is as smooth and frictionless as a seat can possibly be. It would be ill-advised to cycle around on a trouser-seat-eating bicycle. Perhaps though there are better seat options out there? Could the problem be as simple as an intolerance of British tweed to what may appear to be an Italian cycle seat?

bicycle seat

In fact, this post can be considered a combination of a whinge about one of my favourite pairs of trousers needing remedial surgery to pull through, and a request for input from my readers. The input I’m after is two-fold:

  1. How would you repair and strengthen this pair of trousers?
  2. How do you avoid this kind of damage to start with?

I have in the meanwhile sent the following enquiry to Abraham Moon, maker of Moon Tweed for almost 200 years, asking their opinion.

“Dear Sirs,

after discovering yesterday that my cherished Moon Tweed trousers have developed holes as a result of what I can only describe as normal and infrequent wear, I feel compelled to contact you to investigate what could be the cause of this.
The trousers in question are from last years “Mauritz Archive Collection” by H&M, so I imagine you are familiar with the rather pleasing grey tweed used for these.
I estimate I have worn the trousers around 20 times, primarily at home or in an office environment. I do cycle to work, though the seat of my bicycle is utterly smooth and provides no abrasive surface at all.
Would you consider the resulting wear to be due to my misuse, the poor trouser construction by H&M, an ill-chosen application for your fine tweed, or perhaps some other cause entirely?
I look forward to your response and hope to include your reply in the post I am writing about the issue on my blog.
I have enclosed a photo of the wear for your consideration.”

I have now received a reply from the Quality Manager at Moon:

“We would always recommend you take any issues with the garment up with the shop in the first instance. H&M can then deal with this and involve the garment maker and ourselves if required.”

This means I will next try to contact H&M, a task I suspect will bring boundless joy. To increase the chances of a reply I have contacted customer services in Norway and the UK, as well as their media relations. I am nothing if not persistent.

And I did receive a reply from Massimo at H&M Customer Service:

“I am sorry to hear that the trousers you bought have developed a hole in them. The quality in our clothing is something we take very seriously, whether it is a premium collection item or from our basics range. All items are put through a quality check to make sure they are up to the highest of standards before they are sold to the public and can only apologise that these trousers have developed a hole. 

If the items trousers have been bought  within six months I kindly ask that you take them to a store along with the receipt, if you still have it, and the manager may be able to offer some sort of compensation or exchange. This would be up to the store managers discretion as they will have the final say as they can see the trousers and judge if they are faulty. Store managers are trained to spot wether an item is faulty or if something has been caused by regular wear and tear.”

Not a very useful reply really, and Massimo obviously is unaware that the “Mauritz Archive Collection”, which included the Moon Tweed products, was sold 2 years ago, so not within 6 months.

I did receive a second mail from Abraham Moon & Sons though:

“We were sorry to hear about your woes with our fabric for the H&M tweed trousers. As you’ll know, wool is an extremely hardwearing natural material so we were as surprised as you to see that level of wear after a minimal amount of use.

Having had a read through your Blog and enjoying the many other tweed-based posts and other Menswear interests, we’d like to extend an invitation to you to visit our mill the next time you visit the UK. This way you can see the many procedures from start to finish which goes into creating our luxury tweed fabrics, as well as the lengths we go to to try and ensure the utmost quality in every metre.”

A slightly better result than last time, and I’ll certainly take them up on their offer of a tour next time I’m somewhere near Leeds.

The story didn’t end quite here though! Someone at the Norwegian customer service at H&M obviously wanted to go the extra mile in ensuring I was a happy customer, so they forwarded my enquiry to Petter in Stockholm, the actual designer of the Mauritz Archive Collection, and he replied!

Dear WellDressedDad,

 My name is Petter Klusell and I was the designer for the Mauritz Archive Collection. I am sorry to hear that you have problems with your wool trousers. I have a pair myself and I also enjoy riding my bike to work, I haven´t experienced the problems you have though. Maybe because my leather saddle offers less friction against the wool? Whatever the reason I would like to help you if I can.

The collection is sold out but I do have a pair of the very same trousers behind my desk, they are size 52 and if that would suit you I´m more than happy to send them over. I also have a small piece of the Moon fabric you can use for mending the broken pair. I hope this makes up for any inconvenience and helps to restore your trust in H&M and the Mauritz Archive Collection.

 Best Regards, Petter Klusell

A score and a half indeed! So now I have a fresh pair of tweeds to use, and a piece of the original fabric to repair my broken ones with. Well done Petter and H&M!

17 Responses to “Help! Cycling and trouser wear”

  1. WDG

    I would have thought the supplier would be very happy to recieve this heads up about their product. It´s not HM that manufactured the tweed, they merely bought it.

    I believe that if Moon is proud of their tweed they´d have adviced against the use in trousers if they believed it wasn´t the right material. So why will they revert the case to HM only to have HM get back to them again in the second/third instance?

    Reply
    • Brian S

      One reason Moon may be passing the buck is that they have produced this tweed for H&M at such a significant wholesale discount that they can’t afford to do direct customer support on it. Manufacturers not supporting their product sold at “big box” retailers is a common problem here in Canada.

      Reply
  2. Scratch

    Well, you get what you pay for sometimes. In all seriousness, I’d reinforce the seat and gusset with a bit of chamois leather. It’s what Mallory would’ve done innit geezer?

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad

      May I counter with “who wears lycra to the office?”. As I mentioned in the post, I don’t change into cycling gear for the short ride to work, hence lycra isn’t really an option. As an all-season cyclist, from warm sunny days to blisteringly cold winter days, regular trousers in combination with wool long-johns is more applicable than skin-tight sportsgear!

      Reply
      • Dave Jones

        Ok it might be a short ride to work but wool trousers to cycle in really that’s like me playing football in a tailored suit. Wool is not for cycling sure my suit would get holes in if I played football in it.

      • Well Dressed Dad

        Given that wool is the original and natural technical fibre, providing both warmth, excellent wicking and fast drying, I have no problem arguing it’s mostly excellent features with regards to cycling in the cold and wet. Playing football in a tailored suit however just seems like a very odd thing to do 🙂

  3. bethany

    I don’t think that the quality of the fabric is the problem here. I think the fabric has probably worn due to the rubbing on your cycle seat, & the leg movement as you are cycling, which will probably pull at the fabric. As you said yourself that wasn’t the first time your trousers have done this to you, which shows some fabric are not for cycling in ( which I have also noticed being a keen cyclist myself).
    You have had them a year & if they were one of your favouraite couldn’t you have changed in to them when you got to work?

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad

      Sensible comments, Behany, and you do pose a valid question regarding changing into clothes at work. Still, apart from a single pair of old jeans and a pair of faulty cordurouys, these are the only failures. At least two dozen trousers, many used much more than these, have managed the task without any noticeable wear. And having to change trousers at work does seem like such a lot of extra fuss 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lzx Jeffrey

    Check the tweed fabric composition content. Usually if its 100% wool tweed, it will be relatively difficult to cause a crotch blowout as wool fibers are long and strong. Crotch blowouts caused by cycling is due to the shifting of the trouser crotch area against the front of the seat.
    If you want to repair, you can use thicker hand sewing thread to replace the blown warp&weft on the trousers. Patching won’t really look good unless you are very good at repairs.
    Take a look at repairs by The Bandanna-Almanac, should help.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad

      These are stated to be 100% and Moon is reputable maker, hence why I’m so surprised about the wear. The seat itself is smooth vinyl, which shouldn’t cause much friction at all either.

      Good tip on the repairs, though hand sewing sounds very much more difficult to get right, unless someone much more skilled and patient than me takes a crack at it! To my thinking a good sturdy patch will probably be stronger and more enduring, though it will also need some skill to give it a proper heritage look to it 🙂

      I follow Bandanna-Almanac, good call!

      Reply
  5. WDG

    If I’m not mistaken the lenght of the wool fibre plays a big part in the quality of the finished fabric. Shorter fibres give less stregth and more pilling. See that a lot with yarns as well.

    Reply
  6. Brandon

    I know this won’t help your situation, WDD, but I think it’s worth questioning AM&S reputation and credibility after what I would consider a poor response to your email, and primarily the fact that such a storied English mill would even consider a collaboration with a retailer such as H&M.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad

      I tend to agree, their first reply was rather poor. I have received a second reply now inviting me to visit the factory, something I intend to take them up on when I have an opportunity to do so.

      With regard to collaborating with a behemoth of fast fashion such as H&M, I imagine it’s hard to turn down business. I see they supply fabric for some decent looking blazers this season as well.

      Reply
  7. boghall

    Depends very much on the robustness of the material, I should have thought. I made the mistake of cycling a short distance just a dozen times in my otherwise fine few-months-old Donegal tweed trousers, which are of a rather loose weave. Identical damage to yours ensued. The tailor, the excellent Walker Slater (Edinburgh), were luckily able to find a scrap of the original fabric and kind enough to repair them (gratis), but sadly I shan’t be wearing them again on a saddle. Have to go back for a thicker pair!

    Reply
  8. Mark

    Unfortunately I think this is a not unusual problem with tweed which despite its coarse texture in my experience is not as robust as a worsted cloth. You will need to find an alterations tailor and get it recrotched. A fairly standard and relatively inexpensive repair. Nb make sure you hang the tweed for a couple of days between each wearing that helps a bit, but not much.

    Reply

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