The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) played a pivotal role in the latter stages of World War I. Their journey to the Eastern Front involved a unique mode of transport known as the "Forty-and-Eights," railroad carts ingeniously converted into boxcars. These boxcars were labeled with a distinctive "40 plate," signifying their capacity for carrying "8 horses and 40 people." This intriguing symbol would go on to hold special significance.
In the aftermath of the war, in 1920, a military association primarily comprised of American veterans who had served in France during World War I was formed. They adopted the names "8/40" and "Forty and Eight." Among their ranks was a soldier who had crafted a coverall jacket bearing a conspicuous number on the back. This jacket served as a testament to his wartime experiences, where he had been tasked with managing and safeguarding the invaluable horses that played a crucial role in World War I within these boxcars. Though the attire was not commonly worn locally, it can be seen as a fitting tribute to the boxcar's unique history.
The journey of this boxcar itself traversed tumultuous times. Following the conclusion of World War I, the wagons that once transported American troops to the East found themselves back in France but were later seized during the German occupation. Subsequently, they were repurposed to transport prisoners of war to the Eastern Front. Then, with the outbreak of World War II, France was liberated by American forces who reentered the fray, bringing the "Forty-and-Eights" boxcars back to their homeland. Post-war, these boxcars were bestowed with the name "Mercy Train" and were generously donated to various states in Jeonju as a gesture of gratitude for America's unwavering dedication. A plaque on the boxcar's wall bore the inscription "Hommes 40 Chevaux 8," translating to "40 people and 8 horses" in French, serving as a lasting reminder of its remarkable history. And, as an incredible coincidental sidebar...the current headquarters of the 40/8 is located just a couple of miles from us in Indianapolis.
That's the history, but let's talk about the garments. This pant is something so new and fresh to the shop and we couldn't help but fall in love with the feel and fit. It's a beautifully light-ounce selvedge fabric in a left-hand twill. The real unique part about this denim is that it's mostly indigo. Usually in classic jeans, you see roughly half indigo on the exterior and half of some other color on the interior. This fabric has a wonderful flecky, marled texture when you turn it inside out that is more reminiscent of a double-dyed fabric. The other rich part about this fabric is how easily it will soften. In a left-hand twill, more of the weft is exposed due to the style of twist that happens, and it makes the break-in that much easier. The contrast stitching and extra pockets on these garments are all things that we can't get enough of. These also might be the most fit-friendly pants we've ever seen as you can wear them with a belt, suspenders, or cinch the back. This is a rare piece of reproduction history that we're super proud to be carrying.
- 100% Cotton No. 8 x No. 12
- Left-Hand Twill Selvedge
- Light Ounce Fabric
- White Contrast Stitching
- Black Coated Button Fly
- Belt Loops and Suspender Straps
- Patch Style Front & Back Pockets
- Tool Pocket
- Cinch Back
- "Rite Price" Custom Label
- Made in Japan
A variance of +/- .5" is within tolerance.
Fit Notes: These ran huge! We were fully expecting to wear the size 33, but we had to size all the way down to 30 for them to feel right in the waist and legs. The adjustability in the cinch really helps if these feel a little roomy in the waist for you. They can also be worn with a belt or suspenders. Overall, you're going to have to be okay with a roomy, straight cut in the legs...beyond that. You just want to get the waist right. Tommy is 5'10," 175lbs with a 33-34" waist, and his typical North American size is a 32.