To normal people this might be an obvious statement, but for my own sake and the sake of others reading this it needs to be said. Man cannot wear jeans alone, there has to be an alternative.
This was a tough one for me as ,with the exception of sweat pants, I haven’t bought a pair of none jeans for quite some time. The realisation that I needed a denim alternative is something that had slowly crept on me for a while now, most of my jeans are quite worn and certainly not suitable for even a smart casual (I detest that phrase) social occasion, so I decided that a denim alternative was indeed a wardrobe essential, even for me, and I have worn them fairly regularly since they arrived.
The they in question is a pair of Wabash painter pants by the masters of heavyweight denim Iron Heart, a brand I know just about as well as it is possible to know any brand these days. I’ve travelled to New York to party with them, eat Korean Barbeque in Tokyo with them and even slept at their house with my family, we’re tight and they are good people. I can honestly say that this familiarity had absolutely sod all to do with my decision to buy these pants though, so I will honestly tell you what did make my decision.
1) They were relatively cheap when I bought them as new from a guy of similar proportions to myself, who’s style I admire a lot (plus he is a fellow beard wearer).
2) I am more aware than most that clothing made by Iron Heart is made to last a very, very long time. In terms of quality they get it wrong less often than most.
3) A few years ago I bought a pair of plain duck loggers, now every high street store in my backwards redneck town stocks things that look like duck loggers. I needed something different.
A quick word on Wabash being that it is a fabric with a long history of association with rail workers in the old west, the name Wabash comes from its origins on the banks of the Wabash river. In recent times it has seen a real re-emergence in the work wear scene and has been particularly well received in the Japanese biker communities, I have heard some people make accusation that as a fabric it is too “costumey” but I think if that is an accusation you want to make then there are MUCH bigger targets out there than simple Wabash work pants.
Iron Hearts Wabash fabric is from a separately rope dyed indigo warp and weft, with the dots of this famous fabric created by bleach. This results in a fabric that is stubborn as hell to fade, but should fade over time with an even vintage pattern, exactly how I like my fades. The pants are triple needle constructed using polycotton thread for extreme durability with felled side seams and a Talon zipper fly (a note on this to say that I really like zip flies, I know this is not a popular view but I never said I wanted to be popular). The fit of the IH-814 pants (Iron Heart nomenclature) is what I would describe as semi relaxed straight cut with the emphasis on comfort and practicality over figure hugging taper, again this is exactly what I was looking for. The top block is roomy without being shapeless and the leg opening is perfectly reasonable to be worn with any variety of shoe or boot you might wish to pair with them.
I think that the decision for people as to whether they should purchase these pants rests solely on one thing, do you like the Wabash pattern? If the answer is yes and you are looking for some work pants then they do not come much better than these, and at (currently) £172 retail they are not ludicrously priced when compared to some others in the field which I have seen. To my mind they deserve their FWA status based purely on the fact that I do not expect to have to replace them for an extremely long time and they can be dressed up or dressed down to suit your circumstance, for me they are the perfect denim alternative.