Basics are an important aspect of a complete wardrobe, and many people take them for granted until they realize how these pieces play the fundamentals of your collection. The menswear community on Reddit is quite aware of their importance, oftentimes taking an hyper-extreme approach: they advocate the same pieces and colors so that users end up having a sort of basic uniform (which is a running joke).
For Styleforum members, it can be the same—seeing as how certain elements like a navy blazer or grey wool trousers, cotton chinos and blue OCBDs all get passed around as necessary to establish your wardrobe. As users of both communities flesh out their collection, they end up finding their own style, perhaps adding distinct pieces focused around their own aesthetic, or perhaps buying higher quality pieces with more character or
Therefore, a lot of menswear lovers seek out basics from brands like retailers Uniqlo or Everlane or Suit Supply, all because these brands have something to offer in terms of basics that are priced reasonably for the quality and aesthetic. However, let’s say you are looking for something that is more particular, while still being a basic; perhaps you want something that is more refined, or with little details that are distinctly different from mass market wares. In either case, there
To provide a bit of history, the brand Basic Rights was created by Freddie Cowan from the Vaccines (to be perfectly honest, I had no idea who that was until I looked him up) with a business model oriented around crafting staple garments focused around the small details. This mission is directly at odds with fast fashion, which aims to produce clothing that either falls apart or by rewarding constantly replacing your wardrobe. Their business model is not really even that strange, since logically it makes sense that you would want clothes that are able to be worn in most contexts while lasting a long time in your closet. This mentality is something that we might hark back to when we wax poetically of the clothes of old, “that vintage was better made,” “that you need to invest in clothes to last you a lifetime,” and is somewhat similar to why we focus so much having quality basics. While that is a debate for another time, this concept resonates powerfully with a lot of consumers, and rightfully so because most people who accumulate an interest in something want to see their investment last a while.
The brand was co-founded with David Chambers, who played an important part in creating patterns for their core collection, an example being the trousers. For those that don’t know David Chambers, he is a Savile Row tailor known for being peculiar about who he selected as his clients. Having made suits for many style icons like Manolo Blahnik and David Bowie, he seeks to create clothes with a character reflecting the individual wearing them. The clothes that Basic Rights makes holds that same ethic, providing visual or textual interest to the clothes by imbuing a touch of character in the small details like patterns, fabrics, or construction which differ from what you would find at most off the rack brands.
I was offered a piece from their collection to take a look at the quality, and so I opted for a pair of trousers for this reason. I will say that I am particular about how trousers should drape (you know us classic menswear guys), so I explained my concern since the trousers are described as having a slim, fitted leg, and they sent me two different sizes to try on. Living in California, I opted for a pair in the cream Polish linen. I selected these because cream or neutral colored trousers are considered a classic, and I was curious as to the feel of Polish linen since I wasn’t familiar with it. I can say I ended up being pleasantly surprised, especially since the drape and feel of the fabric is wonderful, reminiscent of something more springy like W. Bill Irish linen in that it rumples more than it wrinkles. It has a wonderful slubiness that makes them a bit more casual texture wise, and I can quite see these pants becoming a favorite of mine for summer months because of their smart appearance.
I ended up deciding to keep the larger pair, bringing in the top block (they have a nice split waistband and are constructed like real trousers rather than like cheaper chinos without any sort of seam allowance). While I was surprised that I could fit into the smaller pair (meaning they are not incredibly slim by any means since I do have larger calves and thighs), the leg line is more classic and I find that it drapes better especially from the front. They appear smart with a jacket, and because of the slight sartorial influences like the single rear pocket and the side adjusters, I felt I would prefer wearing these pants with tailoring. Seeing as a lot of men on do like more fitted trousers, I’ve included photos of the smaller pair so you can see how they fit. If you have larger legs or prefer a more classic fit, I would recommend sizing up and bringing in the top seat and waist.
I would like to say something about the cut/pattern of the trousers. While most trousers, if you look at them–especially cheaper ones, have a line that goes straight on both the front and back of the legs, the leg doesn’t really have any curve to it. As such, the trousers created by Basic Rights are more complex than that, featuring a nice curve that you would see on trousers like those created by a quality tailoring house.
The line on the leg reminds me of something that you would see from more expensive makers (the pattern compares rather favorably to pants I have from Isaia for instance). The trousers, while having minimal fabric to let out, are constructed in a way that permits ease of adjusting just like any tailored pants. They also are somewhat higher rise – not too high rise that they make me feel ridiculous, but just enough that they stay well adjusted for most men of average or slightly below average height.
In the end
Other small touches include the textiles. The brand sources most of its fabrics from Japanese mills (in the case of my linen, the textile is from Poland). Finishing of the products beyond washing is also top notch; the buttonholes and buttons and stitching are all without flaws, and the shirts feature mother of pearl buttons rather than plastic ones for that touch of class found in most higher quality clothing. The fact that their pants feature side adjusters, something that you don’t see on most basics, is a lovely touch; they are having a moment for a lot of menswear aficionados since they provide a clean look.
Lastly, because the brand has a mission to produce products that are quality essentials, they are self-aware enough to understand their impact on the environment. As such Basic Rights wanted to produce ethically made garments. Part of their name, Basic Rights, reflects this—the right to water or to ethical working conditions. This meant for them, partly, starting off with a mind towards sustainability and ethical treatment of workers through their own business practices. For instance, they tried to reduce their environmental footprint by using dead-stock fabrics for many of their pieces, especially those that are outside their core collection. By using textiles that would otherwise go to waste, or possibly be burnt, they are decreasing the amount of water waste and carbon footprint for their brand by choosing not to have their own fabrics run. They use
Because this article is running long, and by definition it was supposed to be a review, I will return to talking about this topic later this month for Fashion Revolution week. I feel that Basic Rights had a lot to say on the matter, which provided an interesting insight into brand awareness and social responsibility.
Personally, even if it is a basic (and perhaps especially because it is) I would rather invest in something that I feel is a good return on my investment. Part of this mentality is considering clothes as something that you would keep for a long time due to its construction or fabrics, that will serve you for years or that contributes a little less to the ecological damage created from the clothing industry.
Clothing like that from Basic Rights should be considered for basics, especially if the small nuances for style or their commitment to more ethical choices resonates with you and works with your budget.
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e. v. Empey
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