Blackhorse Lane Ateliers is a relatively new London based company specializing in denim and focuses on sustainability, community, and unmatched quality. They opened their doors not too long ago in April 2016 and have manufactured a ready-to-wear line of organic & selvedge denim. Their founder Bilgehan “Han” Ates has more than 25 years of experience in the textile industry. As far as I know, Blackhorse Lane is London’s only jean crafter! When was the last time you heard of jeans that were made in London?!
The first time I heard of their company was a few months ago in December of 2017. My girlfriend was looking for a women’s ‘bleu de travail’ aka French Work Jacket. Bill Cunningham, one of the legendary street photographers, was often seen sportin’ one. I stumbled upon an article on The Rake about the 101 of French Work Jackets. The traditional French Work Jacket features a button up twill with two patch pockets and an exterior breast pocket. It was worn by the French factory workers to differentiate them from the higher class. Referenced in the article, the Natural Indigo N17 Chore Coat by Blackhorse Lane caught my attention. I loved the light indigo and the clean silhouette of the classic jacket that can be easily styled up or down. You can pretty much say whenever I’m not wearing a denim jacket, I’m wearing a chore coat!
A month later, I was reached out to by David, the product manager of BHL, if I was interested about reviewing a pair of their denim in exchange for an honest review on my newly created website. I really liked the company’s vision and values and while looking over their website, I recognized a friend Illya (@illcutz) modeling several pairs for them! I love Illya’s style and consider him one of my mentors! David and I agreed upon the E8 Slim Tapered Indigo Selvedge Jean in a size 32 after I compared their measurements with my current Japan Blue ODJB006 18oz Snow Slubs in a High Tapered Fit.
The E8 is Blackhorse Lane’s most premium Japanese denim that they offer and is constructed composing a 14 oz denim from Kurabo Mills. The fit is considered a modern slim fit.
E8 Slim Tapered Indigo Selvedge Jean
Price: £200.00 (approx. USD$277)
- Style Notes:
-Medium rise sits at the hip
-Slim in the thigh and calf
-Narrow opening works well with trainers or sneakers
-A great cut for slimmer physiques
- Premium construction details:
-14oz indigo raw denim woven in Japan by Kurabo Mills
-Black selvedge line, in the spirit of our atelier
-Button fly made of one piece of denim, which is strong and clean
-Tailoring innovation makes the inside of the jean more beautiful
-Heritage-style waistband construction makes the jean stronger
-Hidden rivets reinforce the back pockets
-Stress points are bar-tacked for extra strength
-Copper buttons and rivets produced by YKK
-Cognac English vegetable-tanned leather patches are cut and stamped by hand
-Locally screen printed pockets, signed off by maker
-Tobacco dual duty thread by Coats
-Labels are woven in Wales by GB Labels
-Swing tags, rider tag and jeans sleeves are printed by our neighbour Lester, E17
-100% Made in Blackhorse Lane, London
Measurements of a size 32 pair after a few days of wear:
Waist: 35.5 inches (90 cm)
Thighs: 24 inches (61 cm)
Inseam: 35.25 inches (89 cm)
Leg Opening: 14.5 inches (37 cm)
Front Inseam: 11.5 inches (25 cm)
Knee: 16.5 inches (42 cm)
Out of the package, the jeans initially looked like a “classic” pair of jeans – indigo warp and white weft with a selvedge detail. Blackhorse Lane mentions that these are the slimmest cut of denim that Blackhorse Lane has. To me however, they didn’t seem that all that slim. It might be because I’m used to Japanese brands of which the measurements are based upon men of smaller stature. The texture of the denim felt really, really soft for a 14oz raw denim.
Upon turning the pair inside out, that was where the details of their brand shined! All the inside seams were of “flat-felled stitching”. By far, these were the cleanest pair of denim I’ve seen on the inside! Denim companies tend to focus on the exterior of the jean and neglect the small details within. I appreciate Blackhorse’s attention to detail. Also, I personally love flat-felled stitching much more over overlock stitching.
The pocket bags were constructed of heavy felt cotton and were silk printed. I think the last time I felt pocket bags these hefty was on 3sixteen’s denim! For how slim I like my jeans to fit, I rarely use the front pockets. The left pocket’s reverse side was personalized by a handwritten style and size, while the right pocket listed three values that Blackhorse Lane stands by (“Made”, “By us”, “For Life”) along with a definition for each point. The “Made” was followed by their belief that their jeans are one of the best in the world by combining tailored innovation and heritage construction. The “By us” further defined the brand as a community of makers and creators bringing people together. Inside their factory is a restaurant sized kitchen manned by a Michelin chef Pedro Passinhas who turns the venue into a restaurant at late hours (really cool!). And lastly, the “For life” stated free lifetime repairs on their jeans. I can’t count how many times I’ve sent a pair of denim in because the crotch was wearing thin. The price of repairing a loved pair of denim really adds up! In addition to the particulate, clean detail on their denim, I think the lifetime repairs is what sets them apart from the brands falling in a similar price range.
What was really interesting and subtle was that the button fly was made by a single piece of denim folded upon itself. The buttons and rivets are 100% copper made by YKK and were imprinted with an image of their logo. Whenever I button and unbutton my fly, I can’t help but admire their sheen. The back patch was also thick, imprinted, and made of vegetable tanned leather. Only visible from the interior, the two rear pockets were equipped with hidden rivets to made sure they were as robust as could be.
I felt like I took a gamble on sizing. The only measurements that that corresponded with my Japan Blue High Tapered were of the thighs and waist, which to me are definitely the most important measurements. When I received the pair, I was really surprised how well the E8’s fit on me! The fact that the denim felt soft initially really helped the silhouette on me. I could very easily button the fly all the way to the top which is not what I’m used to with a new pair of raw denim. One problem I had with Japan Blue’s High Tapered fit was that the top button was always too tight on my waist/hips compared to the buttons below it. On those pairs, I typically leave the top button unbuttoned because of so. I’d describe the E8 material as ready to wear as if I’d owned them for several weeks already!
The E8’s fit really well at the top block and the thighs down towards the knees. Of course with a 36 inch inseam, they were a bit long on me even with a double 1 inch cuff. I plan on getting them hemmed after I wear them in for a couple weeks.
I’ve talked about the hidden back pocket rivets, the flat-felled stitching, and one piece fly. While the fabric of the E8 is from Kurabo Mills in Japan, there are a couple minor differences absent from the Blackhorse Lane E8 design compared to some of the other Japanese brand denim. Firstly, the E8’s do not have a raised belt loop. I pictured the E8’s next to three of my most worn, retired denim. The Momotaro pair has raised belt loops which are most noticeable after the denim fades a bit, but definitely not prominent to the naked eye. Raised belt loops have an additional piece of material within that elevates the middle. This helps prevent direct wear on the belt loop and prolongs the lifespan of the belt loop until needing a repair. You can see on the pic below that the elevated piece bears the brunt of the wear.
Secondly, the E8’s do not have raised back pockets. Well heck, I just learned about this detail not too long ago myself so I don’t consider this at all of importance! Some brands have an additional piece at the top of the back pocket so to accentuate back pocket fade as seen below with the Momotaro pair.
To me, having or not having raised belt loops and back pockets are not deal breakers. I took a macro lens to the Blackhorse Lane E8’s and found that the denim had some nep (yarns sticking out from the surface of the weave)!
It’s been a couple days since I’ve received the E8’s, and I think they will claim their spot as my classic indigo warp, white weft selvedge denim. The details on the E8’s are really particulate and innovative. The company believes in fair pricing; they sell to the consumer directly from the factory. To help with that, Blackhorse Lane offers free worldwide shipping over £200 (this pair should meet that criteria). I definitely understand that buying denim online without trying them on first can be worrisome which is why BHL offers a 30 day return/exchange policy (you bear the shipping costs however). For the amazing quality and reasonable price, I definitely would recommend this pair from Blackhorse Lane. I plan on keeping this pair in my current rotation, and I’ll definitely keep you all updated on the fading!