2021 was supposed to be the year we all shed our sweatpants, put on something more than a T-shirt, and embraced the new world ahead. Instead, we’re rightly approaching it with uncertainty.
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Still, Fashion Week presentations continue, some experimenting with digital forms and others sticking toward more traditional approaches. What we can say is, as a general consensus, much of the year’s menswear trends feel like reruns we haven’t had a chance to watch yet.
What does that mean for men’s pants, exactly? In the last few years, we started spotting wider cuts, a greater spectrum of materials, and 90s influences return. But, while designers dabbled, we waited for a chance to try something out ourselves.
Now it’s that point, albeit with a bit of hesitancy. Here’s what’s on our radar for the rest of 2021:
Travel and Cargo Pants
We have an adventure on the mind – and the pants to take you the distance. This trend’s truly divided into two halves. On one, outdoor garments, down to nylon materials and performance treatments, began losing their dowdier, dad-esque roots a few years ago, and now seem normalized beyond the hiker crowd.
As the other half, cargo pants aren’t just for badly dressed bros anymore. Pockets abound, on wider- to slimmer-cut silhouettes (like those infamous pair of Balmain pants), but the materials stray far past the – 90s cotton in desert tan combinations.
Forget what you remember about cargo pants. These straddle technical construction, with a cotton/ nylon blend, yet deliver 90s rave-style at the same time with their solid black hue and exposed metal hardware.
Influenced by military surplus garments, drawstring hems and patch pockets make these cargo pants look like they’re up for an adventure on the trails.
This LA-based brand bridges edgier, bondage-influenced style with comfort, adding a drawstring waist for a degree of adjustability.
When did joggers leave? They didn’t entirely, but when you think about the progression of fashion, they transitioned from retro streetwear to athleisure. They’ve crawled up to the apex again as a work-at-home business casual essential: comfy, with their drawstring waist, yet still offering a sense of normalcy with a twill blend.
A slimmer fit and classic navy color elevate this jogger silhouette above athleisure, adding a few technical features in the process.
Style meets practicality in this quilted, insulated jogger pant inspired by auto racing.
Wool is increasingly being used as a technical material due to its moisture-wicking, heat-retaining properties. These joggers utilize these aspects while delivering a sportier style for everyday wear.
These past few years, we’ve seen it all. Moto jeans, rips, spray paint, patchwork, and even excessive fading have all altered what we perceive as a timeless heritage menswear item.
The revival of workwear (given more of a streetwear-centric spin) has resulted in a return to form for denim. No more bells and whistles – just straightforward, sturdy cotton in a medium-indigo wash. Although menswear snobs will be extolling the pureness of Japanese raw denim, you’re also good in a pair of Levi’s.
You can’t get any more classic, at least by appearances. While the silhouette speaks mid-century Americana, a touch of stretch gives these jeans a modern feel and fit.
Mid- to darker-wash indigo with light distressing transforms these slimmer-cut jeans into your closet’s most versatile pair.
Levi’s 505s check off all the boxes for versatility: A relaxed, standard fit, medium wash without significant distressing, and a mid-rise height that can be worn with baggier shirts yet is cut for tucking in your printed button-down.
You’re picturing a 90s corporate middle manager in a poorly fitting suit. Pleats in the 2020s serve to accentuate the fit – higher waist, tapered leg to your ankle, and just a bit of volume around the middle. This is the – 80s version – when pleats were still fun – but given a toned-down makeover.
Pinstripes get a modern overhaul in a silhouette combining pleats for volume with a jogger cuff for more of a tapered silhouette.
Double the pleats draw attention to this statement feature invigorating what most would perceive as a relaxed-fitting pair of chinos.
Izod takes a tour back to its preppy roots by enhancing this smart- to business-casual pair of chinos with double pleats down the front.
Can you feel the breeze? Of course, you can. As consumers and designers consider sustainability about fabrics and apparel, linen is experiencing its renaissance. Its heyday was last in the 80s – think of a Miami Vice-style suit, in a pale or pastel shade for reference – and its revival holds onto these roots. This isn’t a rough, eco-for-the-sake-of-eco fabric. Instead, linen has the edge over cotton in the sustainability department, and its breathability proves to be a secondary asset.
Mixing linen with silk creates a smoother hand feel and softens the fabric’s distinctively woven texture.
Give your work wardrobe a cooler, more summer-ready touch with these classic, regular-fit pants made fully out of linen.
A relaxed fit and drawstring waist give these linen pants full-on vacation vibes, as if it’s just you taking in the landscape of a tropical island.
Don’t think JNCOs 2.0, although they were revived a couple of years ago. Instead, if you look past the whole Gen Z versus Millennials debate on the coolness of skinny jeans, wide-legged pants offer the best of both worlds – if you wear them correctly.
Unlike – 90s pipe jeans, which dragged on the ground and eventually sported a worn hem, these maintain a structured silhouette that falls to the ankle. There’s the shape, especially with the midrise to high waist. While these can obscure your shape, consider tucking in your shirt, or pairing them with a slimmer-cut polo for contrast.
Reminiscent of sherbet, the amber-orange shade combined with the wider cut and creased front gives these trousers an exaggerated, almost campy 70s vibe.
Suit-like construction goes casual with a 90s skater-inspired silhouette.
The classic construction Levi’s is known for gets a 90s-style treatment with more space from the hips on down.
We can’t tell if we’re in the midst of a true 70s revival – the preponderance of browns and tans would support this – or a 70s-through-the-90s appreciation for corduroy and psychedelic-printed polyester fabrics. It looks more like the latter unless you consider the tailoring revival to be a sophisticated upgrade to the leisure suit. Either way, corduroy’s having its moment through thinner wales adding texture to neutral-hued fabrics.
If you’re uncertain about making the jump from denim to corduroy, these pants ease you in with a regular five-pocket silhouette, narrow wales, and choice of color.
A classic chino silhouette receives a textured treatment, thanks to fine wale cotton.
Try a touch of texture with these nearly navy, relaxed-fitting chino pants designed out of classic corduroy.
Leather is this season’s statement fabric – polished, glossy, and intentionally straying away from its heritage workwear framework. Instead, we end up with adoration for a rock star aesthetic, part John Varvatos and part Depeche Mode. While you can take a pass on those leather puff-sleeve jackets, pants in this material project a sense of confidence that veers strangely close to 2000s-era pickup artistry without seeming desperate or douchey.
These rider pants transition to an everyday statement garment with a classic slim fit and four-pocket construction.
With unfinished hems, these riding pants can be adjusted to your inseam length and boot style. At the same time, a timeless five-pocket silhouette provides a greater degree of versatility.
A slim fit and accents like skull rivets give these PU faux leather pants an unmistakable rock star character.