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How should pants fit now?
A special report, feat. Mach 3+ expert guests
The other day here at HQ we received a 5-word DM from a reader named @jsn.hrdy: “How should pants fit now?”
This question shook me to my core. I know what yr gonna say: “Young Spyplane, anytime u post a fit-pic yr pants are 10/10 paradigm-shifting slappers” — wow, thank you, that’s incredible to hear ...
But truth is, the topic of how pants should fit has vexed me since adolescence… Please trust & believe that circa ‘96 the kid’s trousers were ILL-ADVISEDLY VOLUMINOUS … copping ultra-wide-leg pants, my friends & I chased an ego-death-like condition known as “total shoe engulfment,” i.e. leg-openings vast enough to ingest an entire sneaker like a damn JNCO anaconda … we looked a lot like this 2017 pic from MELODIC MASTER / STYLISH SCUMLORD Post Malone, except he comes off pretty chill whereas we def looked wack as f**k…
Like many young ideologues, before long I swung hard 2 the opposite extreme … in like ‘04 I met some Swedish indie-rock dudes at SXSW wearing hyper-fitted jeans — & yr boy was smitten. The Swedes tipped me off 2 the brand, available only in Europe at the time… visiting Paris the next year I did some “récon imbattable” & tracked down my 1st pair … of Cheap Mondays, baby. From there I was hooked: I never rocked jegging-level-slim joints, thankfully, but my stems def had their personal space invaded by some too-tight A.P.C. Petit Standards along the way…
Cut to the present-day and, after a decade-plus of skinny-pant dominance, the basic & unassailable answer to “how should pants fit now” is to inject some volume into yr trousers.
And yet — how much?? Above are 2 extremely fire, extremely hard-to-find pants we’ve admired recently … at left, 18 East’s “Patchwork Goreckis” and, at right, the “Numberplus Baker” by Japan’s Noyku. The cargo pockets & color-blocking on the Goreckis create a rhythm and structure that plays nicely against the softness of the material and the potentially amorphous proportions … (18 East only put out 9 of these and we got cart-jacked 40 seconds after the drop went live 😞.)
Japanese silhouettes r tricky cuz they can get extremely outsize and still photograph great on well-styled models (case in point: Masterkey’s “Loose Wide” pants below left) which might fool u into thinking u can pull off pants u scientifically cannot. But the Numberplus Bakers fall into a more user-friendly sweet spot… ditto some of the pants we’ve seen from Kaptain Sunshine & most of the pants we’ve seen from orSlow (whose s**t is way easier to buy in the U.S., too.)
orSlow’s lightly tapered “Climbing Pants,” above right, r a solid haute-GORP option, and since they’re cropped they don’t need a cuff to create a harmonious Footwear-Ankle-Pant (F.A.P.) interface…
Let’s talk about cuffs & F.A.P.-ing correctly for a second. Some ppl — prominent among them HighSnob’s Jian DeLeon & wise jawns-oracle Mordechai Rubinstein — have been doing their part to usher in a post-cuff world / re-popularize the look of hems breaking unhindered over shoes… there’s definitely something to this, but I also love the ballast that a cuff brings to the equation… (not to mention the glimmer of sock.) A pant with a cuff feels punctuated.
But I can go either way… The 2 recent trouser-coppings I’ve been happiest with are pleated & tapered “One-Tack Easy Pants” from Attachment / KKA, which I let hang uncuffed… and a more-ample & straight-legged pair of high-waisted herringbone Visvim army pants, below, where the cuffs help balance out the bellows pockets … (I was emboldened to buy these after Erin copped some dope navy herringbone Rachel Comey joints.)
Part of being the no. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon”™ is that BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE has a global network of DEEP-COVER SWAGGER-SEERS on speed-dial, so we decided to put the question to some of them, too… and they came thru with Mach 3+ quality insight:
GQ Senior Associate Editor / walking Elizabeth Peyton painting Sam Hine has a fine-tuned sense for volume, which it turns out he calibrates to the most iconic garment in American Pantsdom: “Pants should fit like beat-to-hell vintage 501s!” Sam said. “It’s all about a medium rise, straight-but-slouchy fit, and structured fabric. That’s the key to nailing the golden ratio of pants, i.e. pants you can wear with loafers or Chelseas or” — as he’s rocking in the ‘90s-ed-out pic above-left — “Rick Owens Ramones.”
Ezra Koenig owns many lovely pants, including a roomy pair of navy seersucker drawstring Lemaire joints we r trying to convince him to sell us, so far unsuccessfully… but in the meantime he sent over a deceptively simple answer about the importance of context: “The fit should match the shape of your shoes and the size of your shirt.” This is very true … but figuring out the balance can be easier said than done, and a few seconds later Ezra added that you can always “just wear shorts and jumpsuits.” (Real talk, finding a jumpsuit and rocking it into the grave might be the final frontier for BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE??)
Osaka-based Bandanna Almanac mastermind / discerning ex-Kapital jawnsman Jonathan Lukacek was clinical: “Pants should fit so that when you sit, stand, ride, or crawl they do not constrict movement.” And Throwing Fits’ James Harris banged off a quick but comprehensive pants-fit rulebook: “Loose but not baggy, no e-boy cropped s**t, sitting at the hips, some break but no stacks or pooling, unless ur in some sleek loafers, then no break.”
When we put the question to longtime BBSP homey George Positive, a musician who does visual merchandising for Fendi, he sent us the shots above and dropped a philosophical mind-jumbler about embracing semiotic chaos & the mystical dimensions of swag: “The only way to be genuine is to not know if your pants fit or not. That’s the true ‘I don’t give a f**k’ s**t — you create the energy based on your mood, and other people will take what you’re wearing as great-fitting or ill-fitting depending on that.”
George’s pics document him SMASHING THE COFFEE RUN in wide-wale vintage cords, above left, & posted up in super-relaxed black Loewe jeans, above right, with a single cuff resting gently over his Bostons…
Here in Oakland, a guy we see around the neighborhood getting off pro-level big-pants fits on the reg is artist Branson Chase, who augments the “old man” panache of his brown sequoia-trunk-shaped trousers above left with a sick pair of swirly Air Max Deluxes….
Branson’s pants r a textbook case of what WSJ jawns-whisperer Jacob Gallagher described to me as “flow,” meaning “the trousers sit comfortably off the body at all points. I hate when trousers are tight, especially when I go to sit down and the seat of the pants constricts. So, predictably, I favor a trouser with pleats and an expansive leg opening.” Case in point — “My go-to are vintage Comme trousers from Japan off eBay. They’re like ~$200 but the fit is sublime.” (Those are Comme joints above right.)
The trick with flow, Jacob emphasized, is to avoid overflowing, i.e., no “slovenliness or sagginess — that means you have lost control of the trousers. And a pant that has too much going on, that’s perhaps too directional, is not something that’s going to express peace of mind.”
And there you have it. Get yr mind right and yr pants will follow 💆♀️♾️👖