With the The Cooper Collection’s Archie Tapered 15.3 oz, one of the UK’s first denim brands, Lee Cooper, reminds us that denim was born Europe. Featuring a modern take on vintage details, these work wear inspired pants are definitely one of a kind.
In 1908, Lee Cooper began as Europe’s first serious denim brand. Morris Cooper established a workwear production company called The Morris Cooper Factory. Cooper produced durable, long lasting workwear and overalls. After Morris Copper’s death, his son, Harold Cooper, took over the factory and established the new direction of workwear to jeans production and ‘Lee Cooper’ was born.
Eventually, in the successful decades to follow, one of the biggest UK denim brands would lose touch with its serious denim and workwear roots. Now with the release of The Cooper Collection, Lee Cooper is revisiting it’s origins.
Walking up the stairs of my apartment in Los Angeles, I started to pick and peel at the packing tape which tightly hugged the box from the UK. I have been curious for about 6 months now and as I opened the box I pulled out a very nice pair of denim. I began going to work on ’em, inspecting. Searching for info online, I quickly realized there is almost no info to be found on the construction or materials. Holding this clearly well made and interesting denim in my hands, I know their is a lot of thought and hard work behind them and I want to know their story. I decided to dig and see what I could find.
On The Hunt
Along with the denim, I received a very cool book by David Hellqvist called The Cooper Collection – Document, that colorfully illustrates The Cooper Collection’s world. It has interviews and conversations with pillars of the denim comunity such as Amy Leverton (Denim Dudes), Thomas Stege Bojer (Denim Hunters), and Rudy Budhdeo (Son of Stag), just to name a few.
A great read for any denim lover, but still, nothing about the quality or materials of the jeans.
I wanted to talk with the person behind the denim, the one responsible for the design. I was lucky enough to get in contact with Tilmann Wrobël, the Creative Director of The Cooper Collection. Through my correspondence with Tilmann, I was able to get the details about the Archie Tapered 15.3oz used in this review.
DH: I noticed a sort of green-cast on the weft and a bit of a red-cast on the warp. Is that correct?
Tilmann: To me, the red-casts have always been a sign of american / southeeuropean denim culture. For this range we have selected a more green-casted fabric, which to us corresponds better to the urban & british denim-flavor. Also the slightly softer hand-feel made us think about the very first british denim-products, way back from the early 1500’s, which contained often wool… ( warmer & softer ).
- Bold red line on white selvedge ID
- Reinforced Fly
- Back pocket hidden selvedge ID
- Belt loop selvedge ID
- Double felled inseams
- 2 ply waistband
- Watch pocket selvedge ID
- 100% solid red copper trims
- Unvarnished hardware (so they oxidize faster)
- 5 button fly
- Cotton wrapped poly thread, two tone copper and yellow stitching
- Bar tack stitching sewn beyond the edges for extra durability
- “1908” stamped rivets
- 210g cloth pocket bags
- Red Lee Cooper “Red Diamond” on back pocket
- Tonal Lee Cooper pocket arc’s
- Rivet on fly
- Rivet and bar tacked reinforced fly
- Slanted work pockets
Fit: I really like the nice medium-high rise. Nice roomy thighs and top block. A moderate taper down the leg. A flattering fit that you could actually do some work in. Because of how the pockets are cut and the characteristics of the denim, the front of the top block bunches differently than the usual 5-pocket jean. At first before it is fully broken in, instead of the usual two or three waves that form along the fly, one big bump pops up. This starts to settle a bit as you break it in but it still bunches differently than usual jeans, more like chinos.
First Impressions: Definitely different that any other pair I own. Very well made, solid construction, pretty clean stitching and a strong denim with a smooth surface that is perfectly suited for some hard work. This denim crocks like crazy. the white weft was tinted blue after a soak and already seeing some electric blue popping up after just a couple days of wear. The core of the warp yarns are not a pure white because they have been penetrated a little by the indigo. So although it seems to fade quickly, it will not be as high contrast as some rope dyed denim. It will hopefully produce a vintage look fade in a shorter than usual time compared to say, Cone Denim.Very interested in seeing how these evolve. Although the denim feels heavy and rigid, it is also very soft and comfortable from day one. I really like the bold, slightly darker shade red line on the narrow selvedge ID. I find myself using the slanted work pockets more often than my usual pockets because of ease and accessibility, definitely a plus for work pants.