Trousers made from recycled WWII British army tents

Stabo makes men's "Bivvy Trousers" out of surplus WWII British military tents, turning the thick, lightly waxed canvas into comfortable pants. I bought a pair on Sunday and they're incredibly comfortable and look great. I feel like the canvas is going to last for years, and the stitching and construction is both thoughtful and thorough (I love the grommeted back pockets, too!).

After many attempts to find the perfect recycled material, we finally found a pair of World War II era Bivouac tents languishing in a dusty warehouse. Luckily they make fantastic trousers and because they are individually cut and sewn each pair is unique.

The cut evolved through a process of making and remaking till we eventually developed this relaxed fit. The legs were really long so we rolled them up and that became part of the look….although we are happy to shorten them.

The trousers are either dark brown, tan, dark green or faded green, but we don’t have every size in every colour. As these trousers are made from used tents there are inconsistencies, marks and even patches where they were mended and which all add to their charm.

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  1. …Yeah. That’s the bizarre thing about crap like this.

    I just can’t bring myself to pay more for something that cost less and looks like ass.

  2. You’re looking at handmade, unique items of clothing.
    Yes 60 quid does seem a lot for a pair of trousers, but you would pay the same for mass produced keks.
    and Dude – you can’t buy that mildew smell anywhere else.

  3. Does buying a pair come with automatic membership in Dexy’s Midnight Runners? JoBoxers, maybe?

  4. HJ03@1: Yes, hard to believe the American Peso has been so debased by the Fed that 60 quid is $120.

  5. I’ve never been a canvas fan beyond paintings and Chuck Taylors, but this is a pretty neat concept.

    If you want something that is strong, old, and doesn’t look bad then look into Japanese selvedge denim. There is not a lot of it around though thankfully new selvedge (if made properly) can be even better quality if you can’t get the Japanese stuff.

  6. Interestingly the dollar has been worth about half a pound for most of the twentieth century. A ‘dollar’ was slang for the pre-decimal ten shilling note because it was worth a dollar in the Gold Standard. Ten shillings became 50p in 1971. I can’t remember if the pound is strong or if the dollar is weak at the moment – the pound is at a low against the Euro, but still around $2.

  7. It’s not so much the $120 a pair pricetag that puts me off – it’s the $120 pricetag on a pair of pants that look like they came from a Salvation Army thriftstore. Is the wino look really that trendy these days?

  8. Recycling is great, but they do destroy war memorabilia here .. It reminds me of people in the middle age who tore up old norse books to make shoes out of the leather binding.

    I mean, I reckon our predecessors would rather have WWII tents than a buch of trousers.

  9. I would have bought these maybe 10 years ago when I could afford to blow $120 and when cargo cuts were in style.

  10. Yet another product on Boingboing that makes me say “I have to have it” only to go into fits of laughter after I see the price. I was willing to spend $60-80US, but $120 is ridiculous. Maybe I’ll go buy my own used canvas tent at the flea market for $10 and sew my own pair.

    #7: If I remember the news correctly this morning, one euro is worth $1.54 US dollars, the weakest it’s been since 1995.

  11. Anti-fashion? Post-fashion? What do you call it when clothes that are deliberately, self-consciously utilitarian and functional are commodified as fashionable clothes?

    “Stupid” seems to be a common critique, but there’s something deeper here I think. It’s like people are weary and disgusted with the idea of “fashion”, and superficial trends, but can’t quite escape its frame of reference. So they end up looking to the fashion world to provide alternatives and criticisms of itself, which of course is done in the form of new fashions.

  12. Astonishing news: Boing Boing is not the J. Crew catalogue! Stuff gets written up because it’s interesting, which is not reliably the same thing as being stylish yet affordable.

    If you’re looking for inexpensive sportswear, there are any number of online catalogues that will sell it to you.

    Why do we have this confusion every bleeping time?

    SoupIsFood (9), don’t be alarmed. Nation-size military organizations generate amazing amounts of superfluous and/or decommissioned gear. Old-fashioned heavy canvas tents aren’t going to sell well because the market’s gone over to newfangled spring-loaded lightweight tents. It’s logical to make trousers out of them. After all, the first levis were made out of material intended to be used for tents.

  13. Funny, Banana Republic started out doing this sort of thing back in the late 70s. Look at them now. Or not. I liked them better when they were searching through dusty warehouses.

  14. whah…I want something from recycled material cuz I’m environmentally conscious…but make sure it’s made with the love of a 12 year old in Thailand. I don’t want to pay any $$ for it.

    Come on. It’s a great idea. They look cool. And I have to say, when I first read the post, I was wondering if they were going to use cheap labor. Sounds like that’s not the case.

  15. Just to balance things out, I’m gonna buy some surplus combat trousers and make a tent out of ’em.

  16. Dangit. Just this past year I finally got rid of several old ex-surplus, ex-Boy Scout canvas tents (no poles) that I’d been hanging on to for years figuring that eventually they’d come in handy. I never thought of making pants out of them. :(

    Double dangit. I just started getting into Cowboy Action Shooting, and we are supposed to dress up in authentic(-ish) western wear. And canvas pants are certainly authentic. hmmmm…maybe I’ll recall who I gave the old tents to and maybe I can get one back. ‘Cause I need another project :)

  17. wow, for some time now i’ve been in the market for relly expensive pants made for seventy yr old cotton fabric that been doused in early nerve agents. hey, this internet really is someting else.
    it looks like a pretty sweet cut though.

  18. …but you would pay the same for mass produced keks.

    Maybe you would, but I wouldn’t. Look up some used clothing stores, factory seconds stores, or similar in your area. Most places have them.

  19. #15- I wouldn’t call incredulity that a grotty looking pair of pants goes for a sky-high price confusion, just an understandable reaction. I find pants I consider very nice of diverse materials at my local thrift store and I can get twenty pair for the same price. They are re-used rather than recycled for minimal energy cost. It’s perfectly natural to compare one’s own experience with what’s being presented here. What’s with the extreme defensiveness over comments? Take them for what they’re worth, individual responses that may cover a wide range of opinions that support or diverge from the context of the presentation. For these pants, if you think they’re cool, they are, by all means get some! Who cares if some people have another perspective?

  20. These are similar to Filson double tin pants (http://www.davidmorgan.com/product_info.php?products_id=582) which are fairly well-known to outdoorsy types, are only a bit cheaper, and are made from virgin canvas. I think the reaction here to the cost just reflects urban-centricity. $120 for a pair of pants that come from a recycled material (that you don’t have to break in, among other benefits) and that will last several years of hard work is actually not that bad of a deal.

  21. dangit, this is not my week.

    First, a cow-worker comes in with the Mac Airbook. LUST!

    Then I see a Smart Car, sold legal for US roads! LUST!

    Now, these really cool pants that will last forever. since I am not a fashionista, I dig them. LUST!

    Sadly, I am in no position to spend the money on any of these items.

    Thanks, they look cool, I am into it, I cannot afford it. :( The economy is going to hell in a handbasket, and I need to make sure I am still floating. Buy nothing, use less, grow my food. Wonderful, I live in Silicon Valley, but act like I am in backwoods of my beloved Texas. High Tex bracket, low amount to spend. My pants better last another year

  22. “Thick, lightly waxed canvas” and “comfortable” do not belong in the same sentence.

  23. Personally I am finding myself moving towards buying fewer, more expensive items of clothing that are well made and well cut and can withstand tons of washes instead of the cheap-as-possible outlet stuff. I spent $80 on a pair of Japanese jeans (which were surprisingly a better cut for me than the Western brands) and have worn them almost every day for 6 months and they’re barely any worse for wear. To each their own.

  24. Okay, I take that back. “Thick, lightly waxed canvas” and “comfortable” can belong in the same sentence, as long as it goes something like this:

    The thick, lightly waxed canvas is comfortable—in the same way that steel wool nickers are comfortable.

    Like cuddling a belt sander . . .

  25. The stains are what make them so jolly…just imagine, one of Monty’s Desert Rats pissed against the side of the tent and now it is immortalized as bum pants…

  26. JustOneGuy (22), that was me lightening up.

    Dustin, sufficiently broken-in cotton canvas can be quite wearable. I doubt there’s enough wax left to make it uncomfortable.

  27. Heh, that style may come back in fashion. Looks just like what Indiana Jones wears — and with all the stains and imperfections, you’ll look just like Indy does at the end of the adventure!

  28. these are a fire hazard, extremely flammable. old tents were treated with flammable substances, oils, waxes, etc, to make them waterproof. the drawback is that they are flammable. checkout the “hartford circus fire”.

  29. Because the big top tent had been coated with 1,800 lb (816 kg) of paraffin and 6,000 US gallons (23 m³) of gasoline (some sources say kerosene), a common waterproofing method of the time, the flames spread rapidly. Many people were badly burned by the melting paraffin, which rained down like napalm from the roof. The fiery tent collapsed in about eight minutes according to eyewitness survivors, trapping hundreds of spectators beneath it.

    1 spark, POOF, you’re toast.

  30. Afficionados of recycled military fabrics might want to take a peek at:

    http://www.globehope.com/

    MilSpec sleeping bags turned into parkas, webbing into handbags, et cetera. Handmade designer stuff, not cheap but at least you’ll never run into somebody wearing the same outfit! (disclaimer: my client’s site)

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