Skip to main content
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Cargo Pants Are Back, But Not the Ones Your Dad Wore

Celebrities and TikTok influencers have dusted off another half-forgotten trend. What started as a rebellion against skinny jeans is taking some odd turns.
Young designer Charlie Constantinou fast developed a large fanbase and roster of luxury stockists thanks to the popularity of his baggy cargo pants.
London-based designer Charlie Constantinou landed his first major collaboration with Icelandic outerwear brand 66 North, which featured his trademark cargo pants. (Courtesy)

Key insights

  • Military-inspired parachute pants have been adopted by Gen-Z consumers thanks to their Y2K aesthetic.
  • Sales of parachute and cargo pants grew 180 percent in 2022 compared with the year before.
  • Brands like The Attico have found favour among celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rosalía, while Shein’s top-selling style today is its $11 high-waisted cargo pants.

When Hailey Bieber wore a pair of $95 grey low-rise parachute pants to Coachella last year and posted her fit to Instagram, those pants — made by UK-based Jaded London — instantly sold out.

Seeing the overnight success of the baggy Y2K style, Grant and Jade Goulden, the brother-sister duo behind the brand, quickly capitalised on the opportunity: they hopped on a plane to visit their suppliers in Turkey, buying up tonnes of lightweight cotton to boost their offering of the trend from three SKUs last year to 33 today in different colourways, lengths and inseams.

“The product went completely viral — I even had a request to go to Kylie Jenner’s house in LA to drop off a pair,” said Grant Goulden.

Since then, Jaded London has generated £8.3 million ($10.3 million) in sales from parachute pants alone and projects record sales of £43 million ($53.4 million) for its fiscal year ending July 2023.

ADVERTISEMENT

As the Gouldens experienced first-hand, consumer interest in cargo pants and parachute pants — loose trousers with pockets inspired by old-school military gear — exploded in the past year.

Jaded London has generated £8.2 million in sales of parachute pants since March 2022.
Jaded London has generated £8.2 million in sales of its parachute pants since March 2022. (Courtesy)

Sales of parachute pants were up 181 percent in 2022 year-over-year, according to retail intelligence firm Edited, and the trend has only grown stronger in recent months.

London-based designer Natasha Zinko said her namesake brand’s wide-legged cotton and silk-blend cargo pants — which retail between £400 to £720 — now represent 48 percent of her business’ overall trouser sales, compared to 21 percent last year.

As part of the enduring Y2K resurgence, parachute pants are particularly popular among Gen-Z consumers, and #parachutepants has amassed 380 million views on TikTok to date.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski and Rosalía caused buying frenzies for luxury options such as The Attico’s $1,000 cargo pants, while fast fashion and contemporary brands were quick to market cheaper options. Shein’s $11 high-waisted cargo pants, for instance, are the number one trending item on its website, while three other variations are featured in the top ten.

“For womenswear, The Attico is one of the noticeable hero brands,” said Tiffany Hsu, Mytheresa’s vice president of womenswear buying. “Their pants sell out instantly as soon as we put them online.”

At Browns, The Attico’s lightweight polyester parachute pants are also a top seller, along with similar styles made by Dion Lee and The Frankie Shop, according to Heather Gramston, senior head of buying.

For now, parachute pants are largely favoured in womenswear but brands and retailers have an opportunity to market the style in menswear too. Jaded London, for example, took inspiration in designing their men’s parachute pants based on looks worn by David Beckham and Brad Pitt in the early aughts.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Baggy style is one of the strongest men’s fashion trends for the coming summer season,” said Chris Kyvetos, leader of the men’s buying team at Mytheresa, citing Tom Ford and Bruno Cucinelli as brands which successfully adapted their existing offering to present the silhouette “in a more casual way.”

The key appeal for the parachute pant, buyers say, is its versatility in styling.

The trousers, typically lightweight and made for comfort from materials like nylon or polyester, can be worn high or low on the waist and paired with chunky sneakers and hoodies. The pants can also be styled in preppier outfits, with shoes like Adidas Sambas and Gazelles, and vest tops or cardigans. With multiple pockets, drawstrings and zips, parachute pants easily complement today’s most popular outdoor brands like Salomon and streetwear names like Stone Island or CP Company.

The parachute pants craze has also led to some unlikely players looking to cash in on the buzz, none more so than Icelandic outerwear label 66 North, a near century-old brand with origins in making protective clothing for arctic fishermen.

The brand — in the midst of a fashion push — tapped emerging menswear designer Charlie Constantinou for a long-term collaboration while he was still a student at Central Saint Martins this year. Their first collection, which dropped last week, featured Constantinou’s trademark hand-dyed cargo pants in purple and dark green. It’s promoted by a futuristic campaign shot against the rugged Icelandic terrain.

Under the partnership, 66 North gave Constantinou free reign to adapt its archival performance-focussed cargo pants with a fashion spin, resulting in a style with wide legs, additional exterior pockets and extra zips and drawstrings.

For Constantinou, the best parachute pants combine a technical look and feel with a sense of comfort — the most important attribute for post-pandemic apparel.

“Some people think it’s a matter of slapping on as many pockets as you can, and that makes it functional,” he said. “[But] it’s about refining the design to focus on ease of movement.”

Further Reading

How Matching Sets Took Over Fashion

The convenience and visual impact of sets have made the category an enduring staple among consumers and retailers alike, but current market circumstances are giving them a boost.

Why Fashion Can’t Kick Its Cowboy Obsession

From Coachella to Paramount’s hit TV show Yellowstone, the Western look has become ubiquitous in mainstream culture. The trend, stakeholders say, was driven by the pandemic and shifting political views.

The Athleisure-fication of Everything

Demand for leggings and sweats may have peaked, but the pandemic’s comfort-first aesthetic is hardly dead. It’s simply mutating into something else: a yet-to-be-named category that incorporates stretch and softness into a staggering number of fashion staples, from trousers to jumpsuits.

About the author
Daniel-Yaw  Miller
Daniel-Yaw Miller

Daniel-Yaw Miller is Senior Editorial Associate at The Business of Fashion. He is based in London and covers menswear, streetwear and sport.

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Retail
Analysis and advice from the front lines of the retail transformation.

Why Esprit’s Ambitious Rebrand Fell Short

The company is in talks with potential investors after filing for insolvency in Europe and closing its US stores. Insiders say efforts to restore the brand to its 1980s heyday clashed with its owners’ desire to quickly juice sales in order to attract a buyer.


How Adidas Sambas Took Over the World

The humble trainer, once the reserve of football fans, Britpop kids and the odd skateboarder, has become as ubiquitous as battered Converse All Stars in the 00s indie sleaze years.


view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
The Business of Beauty Global Awards - Deadline 30 April 2024
© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
The Business of Beauty Global Awards - Deadline 30 April 2024