Thursday, November 04, 2010

Shopping from the Present - Dickies 1922 Collection



I had wanted to get my hands on a pair of Dickies' new made-in-the-USA 1922 Collection trousers since I first saw them over at ACL. Eventually the folks at Dickies were kind enough to send a few pairs along for Lesli and me to review. [UPDATE: NEW 1922 SITE]

Firstly, I'm really impressed by the quality of construction. Note the inconspicuous bar-tacking at stress points and the neatly split waistband. All stitches are straight, and the patterning is beautifully done.


Good construction is worthless if the materials aren't stunning, but thankfully, it's knock-out. The 8.2 ounce Cramerton Cloth used in the collection is woven in the US to military spec. It's thick and supple, and seems to take abuse without noticing - it should break in beautifully. I'm also very fond of the heavy-duty sailcloth used in the pockets, since I've had the pockets of otherwise durable trousers give out, usually when I'm carrying something like ball bearings and riding on public transportation with my arms full.


A top request for me from trousers, from khakis to denim - stout belt loops. These deliver, sporting bombproof tunnel-style belt loops that are sewn into the waistband at top and bottom. Note neat construction and reinforcement.


So where might I change these trousers? Well, the fit might rub some people the wrong way. I don't wear my pants too tightly - about a Levis 501 fit - but the 1922 collection is sized to historical dimensions, and there's a lot of room in there. I'll admit that they're very comfortable, and unlike some fits of Bill's Khakis, these manage to be roomy without feeling balloon-like. I've gotten used to how they feel, but I'll never be entirely at ease in them since they're so different from anything else in my closet. There's also a very wide hem on the legs, so if you like to roll your trousers, get ready for a 2.5-inch cuff!


Finally, and pardon my nit-picking, the top button of the fly (on the waistband) is too small and incorrectly attached. The button has to go through twice as much fabric at the waistband, which is why denim buttons are larger and have those big posts - the size makes it easier to shove through, and the post provides clearance for all that fabric. The top button on the Dickies is sewn flush to the fabric, so it's a battle to get through. I simply took it off and re-attached it with a longer shank of thread - just put a thin skewer under the button while you sew it on. Not a deal-breaker, by any means, and it's a historical detail to begin with, but that's the kind of accuracy that I'm happy to leave in the past.


Summary - These are absolutely beautiful trousers, made in the USA to a very high specification. If the fit works for you, they're some of the best chinos on the market, and for $200, they had better be. The possible shortcomings - wide fit and an imperfect button - come about simply due to historical accuracy. So I encourage Dickies to create an updated version of the 1922 Collection trousers, with a slimmer (read: standard width) fit, lower-profile hem, and brass zipper fly, while keeping the incredible, stout fabric, USA manufacture, and top-notch quality. Here's hoping that domestic production expands for this venerable company.


Thanks again to Dickies for allowing us to test these trousers!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review and up-close photo essay. That is a nice pair of pants.

I'm currently wearing Filson Dry Finish Tin trousers 24/7 and am quite happy, as well!

israel said...

good article, people are not aware of these things, my father taught me that the seam of a pant is the quality

Jay said...

Are your test trousers the "tan" color or the "khaki?" Thanks for the info.

Lesli Larson said...

In counterpoint to Tom, I should note that I love the high waist and stovepipe legs of these trousers. It's rare to find this fit in a contemporary khaki outside of Japan or the UK (Old Town!). I'm Ok with a modern update as long as Dickies offers the 1922 version based on the original, historic pattern.

I also wear Filson dry finish trousers but the Dickies have a MUCH higher level of finish.

Tom Bonamici said...

@ Jay 8:33,
Mine are the lighter of the two colors, "Suntan."

J-P said...

Thanks for the review. I never really took Dickies too seriously. This makes me want a pair of vintage 1922s. I think I'll prefer the vintage fit so perhaps need to get one sooner than late.

Solomander said...

$200? Hm....

James Black said...

I never would have guessed that Dickies had it in them to bring a $200 twill workwear trouser to market.

Genius!

Anonymous said...

too bad the price isnt historically accurate...

Anonymous said...

Lesli:

So these *are* high wait/long rise pants? I agree with you -- I have to look long and hard for those, because they're the only kind of pants which fit me. Filson cuts their pants that way, actually.

By the way: I bought one of your snap musettes earlier in the year and I love it, use it every day!

Art

SW said...

If you can't live with the vintage fit, have a look at Dickies x Hideout London for an updated fit and at a lower $$