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Made To: Sing

The Tsubame Trousers

Autumn has finally crept in. Per usual, the winding down of another year has me wallowing in nostalgia. I’m not sure why this is, but I think F. Scott Fitzgerald summed it up neatly when he said in The Great Gatsby:

“life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”  

As I am a simple and old fashioned creature, the most exciting part of cooling temperatures for me is the fact that I can once again ensconce my body in a variety of comforting textures, adding more and more layers as the atmosphere changes, until I am barely recognisable as a human being. Along with the comfort of my wooly jumpers I also enjoy the structure of a sturdy trouser when the weather turns. I own all sorts, my favourite being the “plus 2” that I love pairing with long socks, but recently, I’ve been obsessing over the “fishtail” braces back.  

As the trouser evolved from breeches in the 19th century, certain parts of garment remained useful and other parts became redundant. Breeches were often laced like a corset at the back waist seam for ease of adjustment, as they fit close to the body. Trousers have tucks and drape, so instead of a corset-like adjustment style, cinch belts became more useful (a detail I am equally smitten with). Human beings are nothing if not creatures of habit, so for the sake of style and tradition it seems the V required for lacing at the back of the trousers has stayed on sans laces, and by around 1930, had been lovingly dubbed the “fishtail”. I find this to be incredibly charming, and a beautiful detail leftover from generations before. If I could add that to every pair of trousers I own, I definitely would.   

While Japan is a very fish loving country, we typically name any V shaped thing after the swallow. Made To has a wee swallow birdie on everything we make, so I thought it fitting we honour it here as well. Thus, the “Tsubame” trouser began to take shape.   

I started sourcing materials before I had a definite design in mind, as I find sometimes materials inform the design. This particular trouser can be ordered in just about any fabric, but we chose Japanese denim to get started, because I’m coming to grips with the fact that the world is just a much more casual place than it used to be, and I really want to make clothing that people will wear hard, and wear often. I chose the red stripe domestically made shirting cloth for the inside waist lining, and pockets because it seems quite durable, and I enjoyed the colour and composition of the two cloths together as the red stripes call back to the red stripe in the selvedge, which we left intact.

 I ferreted out domestic findings, rivets and thread for a garment that is 100% made in Japan, and by a Japanese master tailor to boot. It feels good to support local industry, local crafts people, and also make nice things.   

Without further faff, here they are, in all their glory.   

While producing these trousers was an exercise in personal curiosity about materials and a small prayer of devotion to tradition, If perchance anyone out there happened to be interested in having a pair of their own, this is how you get them:

Pop over to our online store, and put a pair in your shopping cart. When you check out, fill out all the measurements, and we will contact you for our “trouser meeting”. If your measurements aren’t exactly correct when you enter them, please do not fear, as we will schedule either a virtual or in person fitting (depending on if you are abroad or in Tokyo) to get everything moving properly. The initial measurements give us a chance to prepare your cloth as it has to be ordered from Okayama. Each pair is made to order, so there is no waste, and they are exactly your trousers.   

Adjustable features:  

 leg width: If you don’t like your trousers as wide legged as the one's we made, not to worry, we can certainly slim down the silhouette.

Waist height: If you don’t like your waist quite that high, we can move it to the preferred position.

Pocket embroidery: We can refrain from putting our pocket embroidery on the back patch pockets for a more formal feeling, or swap to a single welt pocket if that's your thing.

I'm really proud of these trousers, and I'm looking forward to putting more pieces like this one into our permanent collection, one by one.

When I was a child, I remember hearing a hymn at church that had the lyrics "you gotta sing when the spirit says sing". I'm not sure what that means in a religious sense any longer, nor do I sing. Regardless, I think these inspired garments are quite possibly the song that myself and my friends at Made To were given to perhaps...hum quietly in the corner.

That is all for now. Thank you for coming along and spending time with me.

*model photograph courtesy of Solveig Boergen





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