A Brief History of Cargo Pants
“Big pants, little shirt season is finally here,” harks Highsnobiety. With Spring in full bloom, no article of clothing is soaking up the sun quite like cargo pants. Though we may be reverting to teeny tiny Y2K fashion, cargo pants seem to only be getting bigger- both literally and figuratively.
The now ultra-trendy article was first developed by the British military in 1938, said GQ. “The first cargo was a somewhat sloppy creation,” the story continued. The original model featured a single pocket that was not only impractical due to its small size, but useless in battle. This newly casual way of dress was entirely foreign to the “voguish” British Army’s historically formal uniforms that made them a “fearsome thing to behold,” reported Military Times. Think red coats, fuzzy hats, and black slacks. Soon after the British Army’s transition into cargo pants, the United States followed suit, creating the “paratrooper pants.”
“Crafted for paratroopers who literally had to jump out of a plane and be ready for battle the second they hit the ground, these cargo pants were perfect because they allowed supplies to remain close at hand,” wrote GQ. In 1952, the Army favored the OG-107s, which are the quintessential army green pants that we know today. Following the success of these pants after World War II, dual pocket cargo pants became the permanent uniform of nearly the entire United States Military.
Fast Forward to the 1990s, cargo pants were all the rage in music culture, with girl groups and rappers alike adopting the room pants as a comfy, yet stylish wardrobe staple. “Cargo Pants were like SUVs for your legs. It’s no wonder why both things experienced such a boom in the ’90s,” wrote Complex.
Today, cargo pants are lower, baggier, and come in an array of colors and patterns. The commodification of cargo pants is just one example of our armed forces’ influence on fashion. A few others include the trenchcoat and the peacoat. Whether you choose to thrift your newest pair of cargos or buy them straight from Carhartt, remember that “fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,” even if that means simply dress as if you are going to battle- Photographer Bill Cunningham.