I was in the Lake District, a region and national park in Cumbria in northwest England, the first time I heard the quote, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just underdressed and ill-prepared people.” While that has nothing to do with denim or United Overalls Co., in particular, it calls to mind that the English have a way and pride about “just getting on with things,” regardless of the circumstances. That pride bleeds over into just about every facet of English culture.
English pride is undoubtedly entrenched in their textile production as well. Admittedly, when I think about the British Isles and textiles, my brain goes to The Aran Isles and woolen sweaters so masterfully crafted that they are more wearable art than warm, fuzzy jumpers. To the same extent, I regard Scottland in the same vein. However, I never once considered Selvedge Denim and England in the same thought.
Enter United Overalls Co. Late this summer, I published an interview with Tom Burke, the sole proprietor of, as far as I’m aware, the only 100% English milled and made selvedge denim brand. Tom is a remarkable young denim artisan with a vision of putting All-English-made denim on the map.
This review, in many ways, is long overdue. First, I wanted to give United Overalls a fair shake in terms of wear-time and test the durability of the jeans. That only happens with time; we all know this. Then life happens; family obligations, personal injury, and other pain-in-the-ass work kept getting in the way of actual writing. I also misfired on the right size to buy.
Sizing being the most prominent issue, I had to address that before putting in wear time, testing durability, etc. Unfortunately, post soak of these 14oz unsanforized beauties, I found I still had too much room in the waist, and that wasn’t going to resolve itself. Which afforded me another experience I wanted to test: Railcar Fine Goods’ selvedge shrinkerizing service.
For a reasonable $75, Railcar can downsize jeans a full two sizes without using a “dart” to make them smaller. However, I was skeptical and waist tailoring I have seen in the past always results in the back pockets being too close together and generally makes jeans look like hammered dog shit on a hot day.
Railcar does things a little differently; they take apart the upper half of the jeans completely, removing the belt loops, leather, and waistbands down to the side seams and repattern the upper block, sizing it down. For $75, they rebuild your entire top block and make it look factory fresh. So I gave it a shot, and fuck me, did they do a killer job.
All of this leads me, finally, to this review. With my jeans appropriately sized, my back healing, and some time to myself to write, I am finally getting this review off the ground.
ED-1 - Pre-Soak Fit
United Overalls Co – Ed-1 JEans
Fuck. There’s just so much to talk about here, and I honestly have to show some damn restraint; otherwise, I’ll lose every single one of you reading this. Honestly, I think every detail of these jeans contributes to their overall beauty. However, I’ll focus on some of my favorites for the sake of getting to the point. Where to start?
The denim on the ED-1, milled by Hewitt Heritage, is remarkable. In all honesty, I have not experienced raw denim this soft and comfortable right off the rack. It is a very wearable, smooth-faced 14oz Indigo x Ecru 100% cotton selvedge denim that requires no time at all to break in. The cut is a high-rise relaxed taper, affording plenty of room and comfort in the top block while giving a flattering modern silhouette as the jeans taper from the knee.
ED-1 - Post Tailoring Fit +90 days
It marries classic and contemporary into one pair of jeans. In fact, for those of you with thick thighs, the ED-1 may very well be the cut you’re looking for as Tom describes them as “Rugby Cut.” Have you seen rugby players…their legs are like fucking tree trunks.
The little things are done very well on the United Overalls ED-1. The exposed copper rivets lend to the “old way” vibe Tom is going for with the ED-1, as does the one-piece selvedge fly. David Neustadter patented the “Continuous Fly” on the 30th of October 1877 to create a more robust point at the bottom of the fly as it was often a place where they would tear. The fly on the ED-1 is further reinforced with a copper rivet. Just watch your boys near a bonfire because that crotch rivet will heat up!
For me, what stands out the most about these jeans is the meticulous single-needle stitching throughout the garment, particularly for the arcuates and around the front pockets. The British Broad Arrow-inspired arcuate is clean and sophisticated, deeply rooted in British history and culture. These are some of my favorite arcs on any jeans I own if I am honest.
ED-1 - Details
These are well-finished jeans, plain and simple. The jeans are structurally well made; clean seams, no loose threads on the inside, the pocket bags are deep and sturdy as hell. I can’t imagine punching a hole through the pockets. The buttons and rivets are what you hope to see, tight with a bit of denim meat poking through the head with the nail.
I always like to take measurements and include accuracy to the size chart as part of quality. I can’t stress enough how important this point is to me. The ED-1 is about as close to the “as advertised” measurements as can be. While I bought the wrong size, it wasn’t the result of the measures; instead, there was not as much shrink post soak for these unsanforized jeans. The sizing problem was easily corrected with tailoring.
My favorite call-out under the quality category, however, has to be the flat-felled seams. I spent an unreasonable amount of time researching the structural integrity differences of overlocked versus flat-felled seams. As a result, I couldn’t come up with a definitive answer on one being better than the other.
Both are seemingly as sound as one another. However, you can’t deny the extra effort and attention flat-felled seams require. The process takes time and is much slower than overlocking, and the result is a superb finish. It also feels more comfortable whilst wearing the jeans.
ED-1 - Post Tailoring Fit +90 days
I won’t lie, the United Overalls ED-1 will set you back. I had a fair amount of sticker shock upon my initial encounter with their website. However, having lived in England for the better part of a decade, I found the cost of most things to be fairly disproportionate. These jeans will set you back £320, or $430. Yeah, I’ll wait for you all to collect yourselves. If you’re done booting your lunch over that, we can press forward.
That price tag is nothing to sniff at; I won’t concede on that point. That puts the ED-1 in striking distance of most Iron Heart jeans and many other premium denim brands. On a boutique brand, I won’t’ deny that’s a hard pill to swallow. In defense of them, however, the jeans are exceptionally made, the entire operation is run by one man, the denim is milled in the UK and labor ain’t cheap in England. Finally, the jeans are cut and sewn by the renowned London-based Black Horse Lane Ateliers.
Does all of that justify the price tag? Maybe. The cost is the one sticking point for the jeans I struggled with. I understand how United Overalls got to that price point, however, the jeans are untested to this point, and for many, that may be a problem. If it is any consolation, the ED-1 comes with free repairs for life, you just have to send them back to the company.
ED-1 - Pot Tailoring +90 days
The United Overalls ED-1 is the first offering from the company and they got an exceptional number of things right during their first at-bat. The denim is a beautiful vintage blue indigo with a buttery hand-feel and is so damn comfortable right away. There’s virtually no break-in period. The details and finishes on the ED-1 are second to none and the cut is very flattering. The biggest sticking point for the average denimhead will be the cost. As a boutique brand, the target audience for these may be a demographic with a little more disposable income or an insatiable denim appetite. Or…Both?
ED-1 - Post Tailoring +90 days
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