Trouser Tuesday: Hansen Garments, relaxed hemp

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Sometime last year I was asking the question of why we weren’t seeing more hemp used in the clothes we buy. Given the environmental issues surrounding the use of cotton, there are good reasons to be looking at alternative materials to use for our fabrics. Hemp is a plant that has many advantages over cotton, yet it’s still quite rare to find it used. I did find a pair of jeans from Flying Horse last year that used denim with a 40% hemp content.

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Now though I have a pair of trousers made entirely from hemp. These are the “Svenning” trousers from Hansen Garments and I’m them kick of a new series of denim trouser reviews. Denim from 100% hemp? And indigo-dyed? I reckon it’s well within the scope. The hemp isn’t the only twist to these though, as we’ll see.

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The fit can only be described as ultra relaxed. Wearing them is like wearing jogging pants. Apart from around the waist there is no tightness at all. When WDG looked over the photos I took to show the fit her comment was “It looks like you have a big butt!”. I protest, my butt is it’s usual pert self, we’re just talking a fit so relaxed that even your loved ones cast aspersions as to your pertness. What can you do?

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What you may not notice right away is that there is no outer seam. Like the previous Hansen trousers I reviewed, the “Sverrre”, there is one important seam less than usual. For denim fanciers this means that the seam that normally turns up to display the selvedge (i.e. the colourful edges of the denim fabric) just isn’t there. A little strange at first, but in a world where most things are made the same it does make a difference. Whether it has any practical purpose or value is another matter, but is everything about utility?

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The fabric itself is quite a bit softer than your usual denim. It feels like a really well worn denim, or perhaps one that has been mercilessly stonewashed half to death. In other words, there is no “breaking them in” or other silliness. I wasn’t aware of how vibrant the indigo blue was until I wore the in the sun and they are very very blue indeed.

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After some use the fabric is wearing a little unusually as well. “Slubby” is a term among denim aficionados to describe an unevenness in the threads of a fabric, giving it more of a 3D effect than usual. This hemp fabric is extremely slubby, as far as I can describe it. It will be interesting to see if this development continues, or whether it will settle in as it is now.

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As per usual Hansen standards the construction of the trousers is top notch. While Hansen is a Scandinavian brand, with design taking place in Copenhagen, production takes place within the EU. The sewing is all competently done, with bound edges rather than the overlock that would be more commonly used to save time. The fly is also properly constructed, with the fly guard and extra button to ensure the fly lays nicely.

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The buttons are a mix of horn and metal, and the fastening of these is the only time things go a little wrong. Inspecting the trousers before writing this review I found two of the fly buttons were coming undone and will need to be reattached before I wear the trousers again.

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I love the way the sizing label is hand stamped to show the size. A small matter, yet it does indicate the small-scale nature of Hansen production. I’m quite astonished that Hansen Garments hasn’t become very much more popular than they have, but for a 2-person company maybe there is enough business?

Size wise I find Hansen are utterly reliable. I wear a medium, and shirts and trousers are reliably sized every time. A medium works out as a 34″ waist for trousers.

In summary: These are not what I’d call business-denim, i.e. trousers I would wear to work. They are brilliant as casual denim though, for when you want to kick back and enjoy life. Life is much harder in a pair of cardboard-stiff 21oz jeans than a pair of very relaxed fit super-soft hemp jeans. You just have to accept that your butt doesn’t look like you’re a fitness model. This gets easier as you get older.

The shirt I’m wearing is another Hansen piece, in indigo dyed Japanese fabric.

Next week we’ll look at something Norwegian, or Japanese, or maybe both?

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Postscript:

After giving these a first wash the fabric tightened up a lot and the fit is now much less relaxed! It’s also not a soft and supple, so it will be interesting to see how it is after some wear.

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