The ‘Cult of Khaki’ Is Upon Us

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Spring 2010 looks from left: Michael Bastian, Band of Outsiders, Burberry. Photo: Imaxtree

Remember when jeans became a thing? One day they were just blue $60 cotton pants, and the next they were $200 expertly sandblasted premium denim pants. Bespoke denim stores offering all kinds of washes and vintage treatments popped up. Pick your rivets! Gold, silver, or bronze! Maybe real diamonds! Now we have jeggings and all kinds of crazy things. Well, the same thing is happening to khakis, according to the Times, since they're the new fancy jean for young men:

[W]ith the fascination over premium denim having nearly exhausted its laundry list of spins, it is not surprising that, this spring, young men’s fancy has turned to khaki. The appeal — at least in theory — is simple. More dressed up than jeans without getting all fancy-pants, khaki can go to the office, then go to the dogs: the Eddie Haskell of clothing.

The new high-end khakis are getting, like jeans did, quite complicated:

[J]ust as Jean Shop took denim mania to a new level of fetish, offering a spectrum of perfected fits and attractive washes, shops like Save Khaki and Grown & Sewn are hard at work cultivating a cult of khaki, with different fits, colors and weights of fabric. Grown & Sewn has even gone all archival, using Cramerton cloth, used in the 1930s for United States military uniforms, as one of its fabrics, but has borrowed a blue-jeans fit to give its khakis a jolt of sex appeal.

Even Dockers are coming out with sexy, high-end khakis. But the pants come with an inherent and very grave danger:

[E]ven with the ministrations of new designers, khakis have some liabilities that jeans do not. Pair khakis with a sport coat or a dress shirt, and you run the risk of looking either needlessly spiffy or parentally bland, more Harvard Business School professor than social networking seer.

Derrick Miller, who founded men's accessories line Barker Black, says to keep his from getting "white-bread," he pegs them and wears them "a little short and beaten up, make them a little rock ’n’ roll." So we've entered the age of rock-and-roll khakis! In other words, it's probably how Cape Cod people look when they've woken up on the beach the morning after their raging all-night clambakes. Up next: distressed needlepoint belts with gimpy one-armed lobsters!!

Khaki Gets Street Cred [NYT]