Bringing Denim Home
Bored by pseudo-intellectual conversations about selvedge? Just head to 7 Foot Cowboy for no nonsense jeans
Article by Nicolas Payne-Baader
About three years ago, at a store opening party in east London I was privy to about an hour long conversation between two grown men, beards and craft beers in hand. These two men argued, as faux cerebrally as possible, firstly about the origins of the word jeans and then the supremacy of 16oz Japanese selvedge denim versus 18oz selvedge denim. I’m not going to say it was the most boring hour of my life, I did my A-Levels and I’ve been to tech conferences, but it was right up there.
The main annoyance of the whole thing was the pretence of speaking interestingly, espousing on a subject which captures the ruggedness of the Marlboro man, the rebellion of a young James Dean and the historical significance of the great railroad builders yet breaking it down to a point of complete interest inertia. The over analysis of interesting subjects does tend to be a fairly male trait… Especially now that everything from a pair of socks to your semi skimmed milk comes with a worker’s story, a tale of craft and a large dose of half-truths, it’s not surprising that people’s purchases have become as much about their next dinner party discussion as what the product actually looks like. The homogony and regression to basics that has been the overwhelming design theme over the last five to ten years has hardly helped matters.
However, every so often some brand punctures the thickening layers of sludge which perpetuate the industry of brand story writing, the fantasia of heritage and something genuinely interesting comes through. One such example is 7ft Cowboy. Conceived by Bayode Oduwole and Claire Pringle of Pokit, two people who have the rare distinction of owning and running a genuinely independent label as well as having made suits personally for Rei Kawakubo, they started designing their denim about four years ago. The whole design inspiration stemming from the overblown imagery of Americana that has been the country’s most powerful export since time immemorial.
The jeans are a complete and heartfelt homage to the spirit of the west, not in their detail, or even their design, these aren’t Levi’s Vintage – supposedly exact replicas of jeans from the 1920s; instead these are inspired by those concepts. The Wild West has always been much more of an idea than a physical place, the United States as it is today could not ideologically exist without the concept of the Wild West; it is the bigger, grittier sequel to the story of the founding fathers, a tome in the collective biography of a nation of “If we can do it, we should do it and we can do anything if we try because we’re American.” It may sound overly simplistic but that is a hugely powerful concept, not dissimilar to the Nieztchien ideas of the Uber Mensch which were central to European fascism a century or so later and no one needs explaining how powerfully that took hold.
The whole concept has been America’s greatest export and for years it manifested itself through cinema and through Westerns. So much so that as far away as Lagos kids would buy super long jeans, turn them up the best part of a foot and cut the shape of the tops of cowboy boots into them so that from a distance you looked like a genuine cowboy.
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Which bring me back to the jeans, 7Foot Cowboy doesn’t really care about the minute differences between a 16oz and an 18oz selvedge, the men’s jeans are 16oz Japanese anyway. They are a proper, designed jean, a polo team playing at Guard’s wears the Bronkbuster and claims they’re the most comfortable trouser to play chukkas in. The Crazy Horse is one of the best oversized side fastening jean I’ve ever tried on, based on a coverall but completely modern. 7Ft Cowboy really only care about making really nice jeans, because if you’ve never at least slightly wanted to be a cowboy you probably didn’t get out enough.