Rocket Science?

It’s pretty well reported now that our company started in the pub. The basic idea, the celebrations about that basic idea, the realisation that we’d better do something more than just talk about the idea to actually make it happen. So yes, our company started over a pint, but with a marker pen, and two pairs of faded old stock trousers we found in a dusty cupboard.

Buttoned waistband not a trouser style clip, bar-tacked belt loops and neater pocketing.

Yoke back, and patch pockets, not welted. Revised belt loop position.

We started with moleskin trousers. And even though other items have come to the range since then, they still continue to be our most solid and consistent seller. Everything has evolved from the original “Founders” edition we launched on Kickstarter – selling 176 pairs in 5hrs for £100 a time.

After that first limited edition 176 pairs came the “177”. An ongoing production moleskin version for the demand that we’d created, in Dark Navy or Grey. Then different colours, different cloth – corduroy, and cotton twill… but first, back to the start.

The original 177 patch was hand pressed from Bakers leather and hand sewn. Several failed in use due to the actions of biological washing powder hardening and tanning the leather further, making it like a biscuit. Vegans weren’t impressed either.

We arrived at our first pattern by simply working from what we had in our hands. We’d found some jeans style moleskin trousers amongst the old stock in a factory, so in the absence of any training in pattern cutting or styling, no mannequins to hand, we drew on it where we wanted things, and sat down with the skilled people who knew how to make stuff.

It’s not rocket science designing trousers. Or maybe it is? Rockets have been around for ages now, apparently since the 10th century – and all new versions of rockets are simply evolutions off previous successful ones, or modifications of ones that went wrong. From early short range gunpowder powered weapons, we’ve now got privately owned rockets that are going to go to Mars and beyond.

Trousers have been around a lot longer than rockets – since 6000BC. The two-legged garment was itself an evolution of a skirt – to make it easier for people to ride horses. And the skirt was just an evolution of a cloth wrapped around the body. It’s disappointing of course to note that trousers development seems to have stalled quite a lot compared to rocket development. No trousers on their way out of the solar system eh? And still basically the same garment. With that in mind at the time (which it wasn’t) you can see how we thought (we didn’t) that it couldn’t be too hard to make trousers (it was).

Trousers are a clever garment. They’re made using flat, often non-stretchy pieces of cloth, all connected together to make a 3d shape that your legs fit in. The shape of the seams and the way the cloth fits together is what alters the fit of the trouser. And if you’ve ever tried to wrap a parcel, or close an envelope with something lumpy in it, or something like that (bear with us), you can start to understand how complicated it all is.

Whilst the shape of the human hasn’t changed so much generally over the last 8000 years, what is the case is that there generally are are many different shapes of human. In trying to fit the majority of people, fit and cut has to take into these differences to avoid having to have custom made trousers for everyone.

Due to both of us being 32in waists when we started this project, it’s certainly true that some of the larger waisted garments weren’t as ideal as they could have been. As our pattern has evolved, lowering the front rise (that’s the dimension from the crotch seam to the top of the waist band) has allowed bigger waisted (and stomached) people to fit into our trousers better. We’ve kept a generous rear rise so as to avoid being “busted for possession of crack” as someone once said.

The tapered shape of the 177 has evolved too – from a uniform “lower leg opening” dimension on early trousers – the width of the trousers at the bottom, to a more proportional dimension on bigger sizes now. And we’ve added a different cut too – the Governor cut (available in British Canvas or Moleskin) is a roomier straight leg trouser.

Compared to the early 177’s, both trousers have more ball room – we’re not from a design background so sadly we don ‘t know what else to call it – though we’ve kept the same volume in the trouser – our pattern cutter literally moved cloth from the back to the front to end up with a trouser that fits the same, but moves better. He’s a magician.

All these tweaks and changes have been essential and make what we think is a better garment than fits more people in a better way. If you bought a pair of early 177’s and thought they felt a bit high at the front, that feeling’s now gone, and it’s mirrored right across the range in all our tapered and straight leg cuts.

 

What we’ve stayed with is our consistent true sizing – which still catches many first time purchasers out as it often seems to be up to 2in smaller than a high street size. Because coming from a background of actually measuring things, we like to be able to measure the thing, we’re making and make it the right size.

Our trousers are trousers, not rockets. They continue to develop with new models with new fabrics, changes to seams for extra reinforcement, different details here as they evolve and improve. Maybe one day they will go into space, but we’re more likely to be in the pub. Cheers.

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