Pants: This unsung hero of apparel, the one that no one really notices until you take them off ("dude, no pants!?") just got a little cooler, thanks to a new company called Oxen Workwear in Brooklyn. I got a pair of their White Label Carpenter Pants exactly one week ago and have worn them for 5 of the last 7 days [Ed. Note: Absolutely true]. And that’s not only because of my dirtbag tendencies—they’re damn comfortable and fit well.
You can’t not compare them to a pair of duck canvas Carhartts. They’re the same color and equally as tough, if not tougher (a guy rescued by an EMT claims that said EMT’s scissors couldn’t cut through Oxen’s canvas).
But here are the big differences: 1. The fabric is soft, so you don’t have to spend the better part of a year walking peg-legged because your pants are cardboard stiff. 2. These pants actually fit trim and cool, so you don’t look like a lumberjack with a load in his pants (think Carhartts for hipsters). 3. Backpackers and other outdoor types don’t really buy pants like these for building houses. They buy them because they’re durable enough to handle several years of carcamping, falling off your slackline onto the gravel repeatedly, splitting wood in the autumn, and looking more rugged than the guy behind you in line at the coffee house.
With a smarter pocket sizes and configuration—not freaking enormous, but normal, discreet and designed for a pen, a knife, and a cell phone—these pants are perfect for all of that. Except for the hammer holster, which I’m about to cut off, assuming my serrated blade is tough enough. They run big: the 30/32’s fit my 32/32 frame—and they do it quite attractively, I might reiterate.