In a world that's seemingly plagued by globalisation and its bitter fallout — with mass-market trends that are involuntarily forced upon you and the irreversible consequences — there is, and always will be, a glimmer of hope. A light at the end of a tunnel if you like, for the coming of a brand who don’t bat an eyelid to conforming to the fast-consumer-market-zeitgeist, and simply do what artisans do best. And that highly commendable ethos is simple: produce garments that are made with the utmost levels care and consideration, crafted to last a lifetime through high quality materials and develop value that completely supersedes price tag (whilst at the same time looking and feeling fantastic).
Indigo denim jeans, the most popular garment ever, has transcended every social, cultural and political line. They are found across the entire menswear spectrum from high street to high-end and are an example of this global issue and an area of this bitter fallout. To put it bluntly, there are so many pairs of jeans out there which are the diametric opposite of what rakish denim looks and feels like. And we all know this, we see it every day, on every street. Fear not, though, Rake readers, for there is hope and that light at the end of the tunnel is a British denim brand — in fact, “the Original British Denim brand” — Lee Cooper. Founded in 1908 in East London, their newly released premium selvedge line The Cooper Collection ticks all the right boxes, and are one of the greatest additions to the denim scene we’ve had in years.
Lee Cooper’s autodidactic founder, Morris Cooper, realised that during the formative years of the 20th century there was a need for well-made, durable and comfortable workwear for London’s industrialists, and thus catered to that growing market. Lee Cooper prospered, unlike many other companies, as a result of two World Wars, due to the War Office’s demands for the brand to produce robust workwear for the combined war effort. Post-World War II, and in conjunction with ‘the rise of the teenager’ and the surge in popularity of denim into the contemporary style vernacular, Lee Cooper went through a slight transition and was flung into popular culture, adorned by the likes of The Rolling Stones, skinheads and mods, and artists such as Serge Gainsborough and Jean-Paul Goude. Lee Cooper became ‘cool’ — partly due to the fact that popular American brands weren't available in the UK — and towards the later stages of the 20th century and into the 21st century morphed into a brand that suddenly became overlooked, unappreciated and wandered into a void of almost non-existence. Until now.