Roger Bisby takes a look at Blaklader’s head-to-toe workwear offering which even includes footwear for wider feet.
Blaklader is a well established Swedish workwear company that has a growing range of workwear for builders. It is important to try the garments on because there are different weights for different times of the year and also for different kinds of work. Bricklayers, for example, will probably prefer fewer pockets and a slightly heavier fabric whereas a plumber or electrician would appreciate a lighter weight fabric with the ability to bend and twist which is found in the Craftsman range. Make no mistake the lighter weight fabric is still strong and hard-wearing. The Craftsman trousers, shown in our pictures and also available in black, have three needle seams at stress point which is always the crutch. It is said that a kilometre of thread is used to sew one pair of trousers. I wasn’t going to unpick the seams to verify this so we will take that as read. The point is that Blaklader offers a lifetime warranty on the seams. The knees and back of the knees have Cordura reinforced panels for extra hard wearing and the holster pockets are reinforced for nails and screws.
Interestingly the company highlights the research done on building sites observing tradesmen and women in their natural environment. They give the design of the rule pocket as an example of the way that the trousers have been designed but if they ever came to Britain they would see that the rule pocket is redundant. Not since the 1970’s have I seen a carpenter outside of the joinery shop carrying a rule around. They disappeared about the same time as pipe tobacco. It may be different on the Continent but then everything is different.
Getting the right size, especially in trousers is often a problem particularly if you are buying on the internet. Some workwear manufacturers cut on the small side so you end up buying a size larger. Blaklader tends to run their sizes fairly true to the tape measure. In other words if your waist is 34 inches then that is the size you need to order. If, however, it was 34 inches in 2014 don’t blame the manufacturers if a 34 feels a bit tight.
Knee protection is of course an important part of any builder’s workwear. The knee pads for the trousers we tested are put in from inside so that has to be done before the trousers are put on. If you are in the habit of removing your knee pads when you have finished kneeling in order to drive your van more comfortably, for example, then this might be tricky. The idea of the internal knee pad is that it stays clean and doesn’t collect debris on the inside but for me it is a lot of faffing about.
Blaklader believes that its attention to detail sets its clothing apart from the cheap Far East imports. Their factories in Sri Lanka and Vietnam follow high ethical standards. The company doesn’t use child labour or environmentally dubious materials. This includes the dyes and chemicals used in their production.
A growing and important part of the Blaklader range is the footwear. This is an area often neglected by some workwear manufacturers but with many builders buying two or more pairs of boots a year it is one that they should be looking at. Blaklader has a good range of safety boots and shoes and, somewhat unusually, caters for wider fits as well as standard sizes. The footwear complies with all the relevant standards and also has replaceable insocks to maintain maximum shock absorbency and hygiene.