Over the past few years the tactical/EDC apparel industry has been exploding. There have been a lot of great ideas, new companies, veteran owned companies and a steady beat of collaboration drops. I for one attribute much of this beginning momentum to the Vans x Syndicate (DEFCON) collabs going back to before 2014. Love them or hate them, they took a classic brand and produced a shoe that is marketed to both of their roots, skating and the support of the military’s operators. Many have attempted to duplicate their success and have come up short. I have known the guys behind DEFCON for sometime now. If there was one thing I can point to that has defined them as a brand, it would simply be, they just don’t give a shit what you think.
The same can be said for Mark Chin and his denim design. When he first arrived to this scene with his offerings under the Oxcart brand he definitely shook up the norm. The look, design and fabric combo produced a product that was second to none. The design was quickly copied by larger brands (ahem, one notorious for being a copycat). I was an early adopter of Mark’s Oxcart Renditions. I literally wore them into the ground. At the time I was working an EP detail in Las Vegas. From there I transitioned to a concealed carry/operations manager role in LA.
I was able to catch up with the other half of the Aurora Project, Slade. Come to find out, we both found Oxcart at the same time and adapted them for work. This is what he had to say in his own words:
It all started back in 2016. I was sitting in my kids’ dentist on pre-deployment leave. All of the apparel that could be used “operationally” just looked dorky as hell, and make you look like you’re about to trek the Himalayas or a total tactitool. I came across an article on SSD about OXCART and emailed the company immediately. From there Mark was able to verify whom I was via the signature block in my email. I took the pair he sent me, and tapered them to adjust the fit, sent him pics and went on my deployment.
I ended up utilizing the jeans pretty much everyday. I was able to carry all the necessities I needed to carry out our operations, to include a beacon, blood chit, blow out kit (that I modified) spare mags, the front welt pocket actually fits crashes (flashbangs).
So we know the roots of Aurora Project, but where do they intend to go? You might recognize the product, but this company has its aspirations set far beyond what put them on the map. I asked Slade this questions and here was his response:
Now that I’ve been medically retired from the SEAL teams, we are committed to going all in on premium cross functional and purpose-built apparel manufactured here in the USA. A lot of AP’s styling cues come from our backgrounds and experiences. Classic staples with military influences (SOF and aviation) and motorsports (2 wheeled) that show the aesthetic and functional design elements as one. Fortunately for us, Mark is an apparel wizard with 16 years of experience in the industry to take some of my hairbrained ideas and make them a reality.
When I received my pants, which I paid for out of my own pocket, I can honestly say the excitement was real. The reason was because my previous pair were worn, pretty bad actually. I was not easy on them to say the least. Although I still have them and they are still serviceable, just not the look I want while working, they are now my weekend jeans when working outside or just about everything else.
Fast forward to the end of 2019 and we now have the Aurora Project. The SD1 Fracture and Rinse are slightly new takes on the iconic design. I did notice that the new Aurora Project pants was a different type of denim. I confirmed this with Mark who stated that they decided to go with a high quality Japanese denim when his original supplier closed their doors. In all honesty, it was a wise decision. The pants feel great, they still have the stretch of the previous blend and with constant wear they still feel new, as if I just opened the package upon delivery.
One of my favorite features of the pants is the way the pockets are designed. When I wear other pants I constantly find myself trying to put my phone on my left hip to drop it in the pocket. Wearing them has changed my muscle memory simply because the hip pockets are that convenient and I utilize them so much.
I have had the SD1’s now since they dropped at the beginning of the year. As far as denim goes, they are firmly in my lineup and I wear them probably 75% of the time. The main thing I was looking for were with the SD1 were differences from the previous iterations of this design. Will they be built as good? Will the pants fit like before? How will these hold up in the long run?
Throughout my extended time wearing and using the SD1’s I can honestly say the only differences have been positive. They are built just as good, the fit (for me) is right where it needs to be. The stretch in the new denim is also perfect and the way they wear is spot on. Not sure if it is just me, but the hip pocket bag feel slightly bigger than the originals, but I might be mistaken. Another design difference I really like is the addition of another belt loop on the left and right hip. I added these loops to my original Oxcart pants, I am happy to see them added to the SD1’s.
To sum everything up, the Aurora Project kicked off their new company with a tried and true design with subtle little tweaks. Mark and Slade are launching this rebirth of an amazing brand with a new focus and a clear vision of what is to come. The pants come in two different versions, SD1 Fracture and the SD1 Rinse. Each of the pants are offered at $150, respectively. If anyone is looking for a pair of pants that can, and have, been everywhere and done just about everything, the price will be more than justified in my opinion. You will not be disappointed.
I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer via Spotter Up so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
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