Archival Trousers – Dickies 1922 Collection

I had wanted to get my hands on a pair of Dickies’ new made-in-the-USA 1922 Collection trousers since I first saw them over at ACL. Eventually the folks at Dickies were kind enough to send a few pairs along for Lesli and me to review.

First off: the quality of construction is beyond just about anything that I’ve ever worn or handled. I’m really impressed. Note the inconspicuous bar-tacking at stress points and the neatly split waistband. All stitches are straight, and the patterning is beautifully done.

All this would be lost if the material weren’t stunning, but thankfully, it’s knock-out. The Cramerton Cloth used in the collection is woven in the US to military spec. It’s thick and supple, and seems to take abuse without noticing. I’m also very fond of the heavy-duty sailcloth used in the pockets, since I’ve had the pockets of otherwise durable trousers give out, usually when I’m carry marbles or ball bearings or coins and riding on public transportation with my arms full. Top marks, Dickies!

A top request for me from trousers, from khakis to denim – stout belt loops. These deliver, sporting bombproof tunnel-style belt loops that are sewn into the waistband at top and bottom. Note neat construction and reinforcement.

So where might I change these trousers? Well, the fit might rub some people the wrong way. I don’t wear my pants too tight – about a Levis 501 fit – but the 1922 collection is sized to historical dimensions, and there’s a lot of room in there. I was initially skeptical, but I’ll admit that they’re very comfortable. Unlike some fits of Bill’s Khakis, these manage to be roomy without feeling balloon-like. I’ve gotten used to how they feel, but I’ll never be entirely at ease in them since they’re so different from anything else in my closet. There’s also a very wide hem on the legs, so if you like to roll your trousers, get ready for a 2.5-inch cuff!

Finally, and I’m nit-picking, the top button of the fly (on the waistband) is too small and incorrectly attached. The button has to go through twice as much fabric at the waistband, which is why denim buttons are larger and have those big posts – the size makes it easier to shove through, and the post provides clearance for all that fabric. The top button on the Dickies is sewn flush to the fabric, so it’s a battle to get through. I simply took it off and re-attached it with a longer “post” of thread – just put a thin skewer under the button while you sew it on. Not a deal-breaker, by any means, and it’s a historical detail to begin with, but that’s the kind of accuracy that I’m happy to leave in the past.

Summary – These are absolutely beautiful trousers, made in the USA to top-notch specification. If the fit works for you, I think they’re some of the best chinos on the market, and for $200, they had better be. The possible shortcomings – wide fit and an imperfect button – come about simply due to historical accuracy. So I encourage Dickies to create an updated version of the 1922 Collection trousers, with a slimmer (read: standard width) fit, lower-profile hem, and brass zipper fly, while keeping the incredible fabric, USA manufacture, and top-notch quality. Here’s hoping that domestic production expands for this venerable company.

Thanks again to Dickies for allowing to test these trousers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *