Rakish: From Workwear to fashion Icon

By Jo Phillips

Denim is a fundamental part of any person’s wardrobe in more or less every country in the world, a staple item of clothing that grew from its humble workwear roots to a global fashion business; it is estimated that around 96% of Americans owns a pair of jeans..quite staggering.

Denim never goes out of fashion as such but it does have a catwalk revival every now and then. S/S 17 is without doubts one of those Fashion Moments.  Many catwalk shows across the major capitals showed versions of denim for S/S17.  Surely this recent denim resurgence on the catwalk started back in  A/W 11  when a little known British design duo Marques Almeida sent an assortment of frayed denim pieces down the catwalk, presenting it to a small collection of fashion journalists and bloggers. Little were we to know  they had hit a nerve, because over the next five years we have seen the proliferation of frayed denim crossing designers to high street retailers.



Why? Because every brand in the world wants to be apart of the huge global market that is denim.  For example the global  jeans market alone was valued at $58 billion for the year 2014, and it continues to grow on account of its lifespan as compared to other everyday clothing.

Marques Almedia are not pioneers of the fashion meets denim market.  It has been strong since the idea of workwear was adopted by rebellious teenagers in the 1950’s. Then think Calvin Klein in the 80’s as another real marker- this time of  luxury fashion meets denim workwear.  However, it’s fair to say that very few designers do denim as well as the denim originators like Levis, Lee, or the British denim instigator Lee Cooper. 

In 1908 Morris Cooper created a workwear production company in a run down property in Middlesex street in London’s east end (the centre of the garment industry at that point in London) which became Lee Cooper (the brand is now recognised as Europe’s first and oldest, denim brand).  It was the arrival of the First World War that saw denim enter into military clothing as brands like Lee Cooper created uniforms for troops proving denims durability and strength as a staple clothing fabric.  So began the journey of denim being woven into our everyday lives; a durable fabric that became a rebellious status symbol and then a luxury and  desirable piece of fashion.

Of course the opposite of the regular trouser yet it has an equally interesting history. Trousers are mentioned as far back as Greek mythology and even the Old Testament (Exodus  28:42), yet it was not until the late 20th century that trousers became fully and totally acceptable for both men and women to wear.  What then defines a trouser? Usually a tailored garment with a zip and fitted waist. 

So what now?  British denim brand Lee Cooper have bought together the trouser and the jean with a capsule collection of  dark blue tailored denim jeans called The Cooper Collection.   A superior line of a selvage denim  that has a clean tailored feel to it.   Six styles made of raw selvedge denim celebrate the culture, depth and rich archive of the brand, which pays homage to the aforementioned Morris Cooper.



Handmade in Italy from 15oz raw Italian selvedge denim which is rich dark inky indigo blue and then woven on authentic shuttle looms, the exclusive denim features a small 31” vintage weave and cutting-edge innovations, such as a natural non-synthetic stretch in select cuts.  All styles come fitted with 100% solid copper hardware, traditional two-piece rivets and back pockets secured with concealed rivets. Chain stitched hems preformed on antique Union Special machines further cement the brand’s commitment to authentic denim construction.


The Cooper collection is a grown up collection of  superior elegant selvedge denim that is both subtle smart and casual; an all encompassing creation, which highlights so much of the heritage of the simple (or not so)  beloved denim jean.  Modern updates meet traditional construction with jeans that speak to the denim purest out there. 


Alongside the collection launch, multi award winning musician Jack Garratt has produced an exclusive track, Strong Enough, and music video that reinforce his appreciation of London and the brands heritage of manufacturing denim in East London since 1908.  Also Lee Cooper commissioned David Hellqvist and Document Studios to create a bespoke publication called The Cooper Collection Document. The Document is a curated collection of editorials, interviews and photo shoots that explore the history of Lee Cooper, capture the spirit of The Cooper Collection and tell the story of denim.

The first, limited edition pieces from The Cooper Collection consists of three men’s and three women’s denim styles:, a slim, straight and a tapered leg, with the design kept clean and classic across the entire offering. .The Cooper Collection capsule will be available to buy from TheCooperCollection.LC and select denim retailers this October, with retail prices from £250.


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