But what are the origins of this garment? Contrary to what you might think, the pants have a very curious history.
The term "pantalone" entered our vocabulary at the end of the eighteenth century, thanks to the homonymous character of the Venetian Commedia dell'Arte Pantalone, but the origins of this garment are much older. It would seem, in fact, that the pants were seen for the first time worn by the Chinese and other eastern populations who used to use them for the ride and, although they were actually much more comfortable and practical especially in battle, they were mocked and snubbed because they were considered vulgar clothing. Or at least that’s what the Romans and Greeks believed.
Later, however, in medieval Europe, men’s pants became the most worn garment among adult males. First of all, it was Charlemagne who preferred the comfort of pants instead of Byzantine tunics, that he wore only for the ceremonies.
Throughout history, men’s pants have changed appearance countless times: in the fourteenth century they consisted of simple knee-length trousers, to which were attached long socks. These became so wide, roughly cut and lined with colorful and eccentric fabrics, that the men who wore them were even publicly taunted.
Later, in Spain at the end of the sixteenth century, fashionable men began to bottle and shorten their pants, creating two legs similar to balloons. This style spread throughout Europe, until they were replaced by simple culottes, worn at the court of Louis XIV.
In the eighteenth century, during the Revolution, men’s culottes were eventually replaced by long pants that were used to be worn by men belonging to the "working class", the so-called "sans culottes".
For the modern man of the nineteenth century, however, fashion was constantly evolving and there were different styles including, the tighter ones, ancestors of modern skinny pants, or flared under the knee. During the century, these are also equipped with straps with loops under the soles of the feet.
In this period England, also known as the land of dandy, dictated European laws in terms of fashion and all the sartorial innovations coming from there were scrupulously imitated. The pants were cut in order to correct any physical defect!
Also from England, the Prince of Wales, son of Queen Victoria and future Edward VII, king of the dandy par excellence, enjoyed inaugurating, even unintentionally, fashions like that time when, in order not to dip them in the mud, invented the lapel, unknowingly launching a new and lasting trend that we will find later, for example, in some models of pants by Balmain.
As for the twentieth century, during the roaring 1920s, European society was overwhelmed by crackling American fashions: charleston and fox trot spread, jazz went crazy in the clubs and men’s pants became softer and more comfortable thanks to the introduction of pinces. In addition, American universities brought the "Oxford bags", or pants with wide legs, flannel and tweed, which were worn with pullovers and jackets with shoulders conspicuously padded.
Skipping a few very conservative decades in men’s fashion, we arrive in the '50s, when the movie "The Wild One" with Marlon Brando came out. Here the actor wore blue jeans, of Levi’s, wich became the flag of youth movements and intellectual avant-garde and then exploded in the sixties as a symbol of protest and freedom.
From here comes also the idea of the five pockets pants, which is nothing more than the photocopy of jeans in terms of cuts, but different however in the fabric. An example of this model may be the Jacob Cohen pants.
Characterized by a wide fit and large pockets on the legs, the cargo pants instead, made their first appearance in 1938, among the ranks of the British army during the Second World War. Of course, like so many military inventions, it was only a matter of time before we civilians got our hands on these men’s pants. In the '90s, in fact, they saw a real spread, thanks to hip hop artists such as Chuck D and Tupac, who made them really popular. Over the next decade, Eminem and Jay-Z also expanded the cultural heritage of hip-hop cargo pants and this style became even more evident and defined.
Even today they are easily available, such as the Supreme cargo pants and Carhartt. But not only streetwear! Just think of the Alexander Mcqueen cargo pants or those of Helmut Lang, to realize that they are also popular in other styles of clothing.
Now try to imagine a guy in the middle of the '70s with a pair of tartan pants, a t-shirt, a leather jacket and a pair of boots, many studs and mohawk hairs. Now imagine a guy in the early 2000s, wearing a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a flannel plaid shirt left open and a pair of Vans sneakers.
What do they have in common? Nothing, you might say. Wrong! They have in common the fact that they both wear a pair of skinny pants.
In fact, the period of maximum glory of this type of men’s pants, characterized by having a very narrow leg that, unlike slim-fit pants, is tighten even on the ankle, are just typical of both the fashion of the 70s, and that of the 21st century.
In 1974, in London, more precisely at 430 King’s Road, there is a shop, "Sex", which with a sign almost a meter and a half high, certainly does not go unnoticed. This is where punk is born, in the boutique of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Mclaren, where they sell the very first skinny, slim, tartan, custom t-shirts, leather jackets, or the iconic bondage pants, worn by the most damned artists of that time: Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, the Clash.
These men’s pants go unnoticed for a couple of decades, and then return to glory with Hedi Silmane who, proposing skinny pants by Saint Laurent, embraces a rock aesthetic, with its lines decidedly super tight. Alone, the designer brought back, in a revisited key, the music and grunge style of the 90s in the spotlight. Obviously, taking the denim wide, and swapping it with tight pants. Again, music and fashion went hand in hand: this aesthetic has influenced the style of indie bands such as Fall Out Boy, Arctic Monkeys and Panic!.
The slim-fit men’s pants, instead, "cousins" (if you can say so) of our skinny, became very popular in the '50s, when international rock'n'roll and blues stars like Elvis and Roy Rogers began to wear them. Able to enhance the male figure without sacrificing comfort, there is no period in which this type of garment is really out of fashion. Today we find them in the proposals of slim-fit pants by Lardini, Fortela and Incotex.
In the 80s, track pants and joggers for men appeared in the music scene and, slowly, even in the fashion world.
These are soft pants in elastic cotton, which differ from each other by the presence or absence of the drawstring at the waist and on the ankles. Initially introduced to the market in the 1920s by Emilie Camuset, the founder of Le Coq Sportif, they were born to allow athletes to play sports comfortably. They then become part of everyday clothing when, thanks to hip hop culture, an aesthetic and a style are created of those who live in the suburbs of big cities, or the so-called "outsiders".
More precisely, we’re in New York, late '70s. A group of breakdancers, the B-Boys, give life to a new and intoxicating fashion by wearing their own track pants and joggers and enriching them with different accessories, including gold chains and Kangol caps.
After the B-Boys, it was the turn of Run DMC, the group that most helped define the hip hop street look, adopting the track pants by Adidas and sneakers without laces as their distinctive uniform. Run DMC even professed their love for Adidas in their song "My Adidas". The success of this song led to a collaboration (the first of its kind) between Adidas and Run DMC, laying the foundations for a lasting link between hip hop culture and sportswear and future collaborations between hip hop artists and big brands.
Even in the 1990s artists such as Notorious B.I.G., began rapping citing brands such as Versace, Prada and DKNY, marking the beginning of the obsession of hip hop for luxury brands. However, while this love for haute couture was growing, culture has maintained its status as an outsider, not yet being fully understood by the fashion world. A few years later, the situation began to change with the rise of urban fashion by Sean John, Diddy and Wu Wear: labels created specifically by rappers who had decided to create something that was authentically of that world.
Today, the situation has turned around. The influence of hip hop on fashion is indisputable and evident thanks to the link between the world of fashion and streetwear. Just think of the collaboration between Supreme and Louis Vuitton in 2017.
We can therefore say that the initial status of hip-hop outsider, has given the genre an enormous freedom, which over time has passed from being the exception, to being the rule. From here, the leading high fashion brands begin to propose this item of clothing, and here on the catwalks appear track pants by Balenciaga and Off-White or joggers by Givenchy, Prada and Alexander Mcqueen.
Returning instead to a more casual style, the chinos for men are one of the most loved models because comfortable, elegant and tend to enhance the figure of the wearer. Typically made of colored cotton, they are preferred in the warm months because of the light fabric with which they are made and to which they owe the name. The name "chino", in fact, comes from the Spanish name of China, because the cotton fabric used in the production, came from there. Although they initially spread like military trousers worn by the army, nowadays chinos are a must have in every man’s wardrobe. In addition, this timeless classic has been reinterpreted also in a modern key, an example are the pants by PT Torino.
Wide-leg men’s pants, on the other hand, made their first appearance in the 1920s and 1940s. Featuring medium-wide legs, a very high waist, and a slight lapel at the ankles, they were held with a belt or braces buttoned, and were a typical item of swing dancers.
After being replaced by bell pants and more straight models in the '70s and '80s, here is that the wide pants come back glorious in more recent times, thanks to the influence of musical icons, such as Harry Styles and his Prada or Valentino pants.
Returning to the glorious men's flared pants instead, these became a real trend in the late '60s and the '70s. In fact, in the groovy era, you couldn’t walk more than two meters without bumping into a couple of these! In truth, this type of garment, characterized by very wide edges, which flare from the knee, appeared in the nineteenth century, also this time in the military. The flared pants were in fact used by the American Navy. In the 1960s, however, young Americans, often "hippies", and moved by a fervent rebellious, unconventional and nonconformist spirit began to buy them in second-hand shops and personify them; buyers, in fact, embroidered on these pants with flowers, signs of peace or colored patches, bringing out all their anti-war sentiment, which distinguished them.
Worn also by celebrities of disco dance or glam rock like Cher or David Bowie, the flared pants, gradually acquired importance, until even the designers adapted their collections to this new trend.
Even in recent years they have had a real revival, going beyond the cliché of hippie and disco reminiscences, becoming a garment to have absolutely in the wardrobe. A trend inspired by the free spirit of a decade that has always been reflected in the collections of Gucci pants.
For the most eccentric men who love to look out for themselves, here are the printed pants that stand out on the catwalks and in the shops, especially from the '60s onwards. From the opulent and wild prints of Versace pants, to those paisley by Etro, up to those of Lifesux and Rassvet, with a decidedly streetstyle character.
In short, for a garment as essential as men’s pants, you can always count on SHOPenauer: here you can find some for every occasion and taste, of all the major Italian and international brands.