Trouser Tuesday: Pike Brothers 1942 Hunting Pants, vintage perfected

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As I’ve mentioned before, one of the joys of writing a blog is in discovering new things. Travelling to a new place, finding new and interesting things, talking to people and hearing their stories and opinions. Todays review, which is almost the final review of the bakers dozen in this round, is from a brand that first came to my attention when I visited Berlin back in December. Whilst browsing the stock at the excellent Fein und Ripp with a fine-tooth comb, I kept seeing interesting garments from Pike Brothers.

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At the time they were a new name to me, and the branding and pieces looked American in style, similar to Filson maybe. At the time there was so much to see and experience that Pike Brothers were filed away for later attention, along with much else. Since then occasional reminders have kept popping up on Instagram though and my curiosity only increased until I finally got round to taking a closer look at what Pike Brothers had to offer.

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Todays review is of the 1942 Hunting Pant by Pike Brothers. The company name may sound American, but while the backstory is of a British family company, todays Pike Brothers is decidedly German. Firmly entrenched in the retro and heritage-style of the industry, they produce various garments in bygone styles, with an attention to detail and quality more commonly seen from small Japanese companies.

The first feature of the hunting pants is the fabric. A grey, lightly striped selvedge denim that is described as wabash. Wabash is a fabric originally used from the early 1800s through to the early 1900s, primarily for workwear and uniforms. A sturdy cotton based fabric, commonly indigo, with patterns, stripes or dots in white.

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These were originally done by using a complicated dying process where starch was printed onto the undyed fabric, so that when the fabric was dyed the dye wouldn’t attach to the starched areas. Later the process evolved to what can be described as bleaching patterns into the fabric. Both process would appear to be complicated and possibly resulting in less than predictable results in terms of quality.

As far as I can tell the Pike Brothers fabric has the lines woven into the fabric, which makes for a less complicated process and gives more predictable results, but strictly speaking it is the “wabash” look rather than the actual process. The typical denim selvedge edges adds nicely to the style, even though only apparent when worn cuffed and on the inside of the fly.

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In any case, the fabric is fantastic. The combination of the grey and white is utterly crisp and beautiful, giving the exact look I was after. The 13oz denim is heavy enough to feel substantial, but light enough for the trousers to be worn in warmer weather. The denim is strong and well made and would likely make for decent workwear trousers, if you are so inclined. Oddly, the card on the trousers (show above) describes the fabric as 10oz duck canvas.

The 1942 Hunting Pant refers to the style, consisting of a fairly loose cut with straight legs and a comfortable rear rise. My pair are size 33, which was only available in a 34″ inseam, which gives me the choice of a larger than usual cuff, or an opportunity to refresh my hemming skills. I usually go for a 32″ length if given a choice, as this provides the perfect hem for me.

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Pocketwise we have the usual 5 pockets. The main front pockets are side-entry with similarly strengthened ends and extra reinforcement. The pocket edge should endure much hand-in-pocket action before showing even the slightest wear!

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The coin pocket is a seperate pocket (similar in style to the Throughstitch chinos), which to my mind does make it more usable, as it’s not sharing space with one of the main front pockets. The coin pocket has a nice welted edge and strongly stitched ends. We also have a sturdy D-ting attached next to the coin pocket, a typical feature of trousers from the 1940s. This could be handy for attaching a keyring, lanyard or pocket watch.

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When it comes to how you chose to ensure your trousers stay in place, the Hunting Pants offer an unusually large selection of methods. You can either use the regular-issue 5 belt loops, or the rear cinch, or the factory fitted suspender buttons. Each has it’s own merits, though to me it feels right to use suspenders on these, adding to the already great style.

The suspender buttons are well spaced and securely sewn into place. The rear cinch is also fully functional, with a well made and properly engineered buckle (something that most commonly isn’t the case!) so just going with the cinch is a fine option as well.

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The rear pockets are refreshingly pure in their design, with strictly function in mind. The horizontal seam across the is to hold the interior strengthening, in the form of doubled up denim, in place.

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The fly consists of 4 buttons. All in zinc-finished branded metal. The button holes could have been a little tidier, but I have no reason to believe they won’t hold up.

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The inside of the fly again displays the selvedge, which means nothing at all in any practical way, but is a nice touch never the less. Again the inside of the buttons is branded with the Pike Brothers crown.

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In addition to all the heavy bar tacks to strengthen the belt loops, pockets and seam ends, these trousers are one of the very few in this round of reviews to have properly felled stitching on the inseam. In fact, I can only recall the Thoroughstitch chinos having so. Is this important, you may be asking? Well, it does show a willingness to go the extra mile, giving the seam the extra strength, making it more pleasant for the legs, and it looks just so. I imagine most guys don’t bother looking at the stitching inside the trouser legs, but once you start paying attention, you will appreciate it.

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I notice the washing label says “dry clean only”, which I intend to disregard totally. The authentic workwear experience can only be had if you wash your trousers at 40 degrees, and if you don’t believe me, ask your mother. There is truly no reason why this fine denim should have problems with a regular gentle wash.

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In summary I would say Pike Brothers have done a superbly creditable job on these trousers and I am very pleased to say the Hunting Pants are one of the highlights of this round. The workmanship and style is quite simply superb and does again show that the country of production means less than the quality and dedication of workers involved in production. In this case the trousers have been sewn in Turkey and a very fine job has been done indeed.

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Looking at the rest of the pieces available from Pike Brothers it is quite clear that they are very much a force to be considered if you are into the workwear/retro/heritage styling, providing proper quality at what I can only consider a very fair price.

Now I need to save up my pocket money to get the matching waistcoat! (Which will of course feature in the upcoming series of Waistcoat Wednesday reviews!)

Measurements (as supplied):

  • Waist: Marked as 33″, measures 36″
  • Inseam: Marked as 34″, measures 34″
Production details:
  • Fabric – Unknown
  • Trousers – Turkey

Score (1-5, 3 being average):

  • Assembly: 5
  • Details: 5
  • Quality: 5
  • Value for money: 4
  • Cool-factor: 5

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6 Comments

  • Adrian Dale 25/06/2014 at 10:19

    I really rate Pike Brothers Nick. Scratch recommended their sweatshirts (I’m sure if you asked him he could wax lyrical about them) and I went ahead and bought one (I think Aero Leather were the stockist which is rather telling in itself). The quality is superb and pleasingly heavy weight giving the suggestion that you’ll do rather well to ever wear it out. They come up a little long in the arms but I suspect they are a true replica of pre war US P.T sweats as opposed to a ‘fashion’ item. I have some of their 1940’s tee’s too that are in regular circulation.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 25/06/2014 at 10:22

      I’ll admit, I’ve been looking closely at their sweatshirts as well. Very reasonably priced, along the lines of much lesser offerings from the usual “cool brands”. Pike Brothers is very definitely on my list of approved brands (the list I have yet to publish).

      Reply
  • Scratch 26/06/2014 at 11:50

    The sweats are good and sadly I could wax lyrical about them even though they are very basic. I’d agree with Gripper on this that they are built for the long haul and are the essense of utilitarian.

    And yes – I think he’s right – it was Aero Leathers that were the stockist. They are the sort of sweats that if made by a “big”or rarified japanese brand would undoubtably be at least 3 times the price.

    Reply
    • Well Dressed Dad 26/06/2014 at 13:07

      The Pike Brothers sweatshirt will shortly feature in a massive 3-way sweatshirt showdown! Details to be revealed at a later date.

      Reply
  • John Brennan 28/06/2014 at 12:25

    Great review.
    I picked up a couple of pike shirts and the quality is exceptional considering the price point. Will definitely be buying more of their gear.

    Reply
  • Arie van den Berg 29/06/2014 at 07:41

    Great review and I totally agree with all the words written about the Hunting Pant. Bought this pant 2 months ago and it´s stil unwashed.
    In May 2013 I bought the Pike Brothers workwear jeans in dry denim, with toolpocket and also chinch-back. Great jeans to wear and also still unwashed.
    I am fond on wearing authentic workwear as a fashion-item and Pike Brothers adds a big contribution to my feelings of clubbing auround in workpants.

    Reply

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