The PANTS Awards

Spyplane PANTS PANTHEON 🏆👖 2021 Q3 Edition

Pants — are they “low key” the most vexing aspect of a fit? The most quietly POWERFUL? Some people will tell you that shoes are the windows into a jawns enthusiast’s soul — the ultimate litmus test when it comes to detecting the presence / absence of swag. I used to think that, but not anymore: Because even though wack shoes will swiftly BRICK A FIT WITH A VENGEANCE, I’ve realized that avoiding wack shoes is relatively easy — but finding great PANTS is very hard!!

Pants occupy more visual real-estate than any other daily garment and (unlike shoes) they contain numerous VARIABLES, INFLECTION POINTS and HOTSPOTS where the question of how “eloquently” they “speak” to your body is crucial — Mach 3+ style prince & Blackbird SpyFriend Sam Hine once shook me to my core by telling me the 1st thing he looks at when assessing a fit’s quality is not the shirt… Not the shoes… NO, it’s the Footwear-Ankle-Pant (F.A.P.) interface, a high-stakes “Bermuda triangle” of drip that many of us don’t even think about!!

In other words, pants contain more chances per capita than any other garment to “go wrong.” No surprise, then, that tons of people freaked the f**k out about PANTS MATTERS during our recent open call for “Personal Spyplane” questions — such as @Khenrub, who hit us up IN TEARS (probably), desperate to know, “What pants should I buy,” and @Benallenwf, who we assume was TREMBLING and SCARED yet OPTIMISTIC when he asked, “What jeans (and fit) should I buy?”

We decided to fold these questions into a SPYPLANE 2021 Q3 PANTS PANTHEON POST where we bestow “PANTS TROPHIES” upon Outstanding Pants — while tackling YOUR profound pants quagmires…

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@robb.mcneill asked for the “Best pleated pants in the game right now?”

🏆 Kaptain Sunshine’s Gurkhas. Personally? Jonah speaking here?? These are my favorite pants I own, pleated or otherwise. Made in Japan, belted, roomy but not over-the-top about it, soft, sturdy & extremely well made. Look at the model in profile above center — that’s just a beautiful drape!!

U can dress these up or down. In the collage above they work with loafers, Hokas AND Arc’teryx boots!? That’s a versatile pant, lover. I got them last year in black “slubby sateen” (above right) from Standard & Strange, and a couple weeks ago I got another pair in brown on sale from No Man Walks Alone. They’re sold out in those colors at both places now, and KS doesn’t have a ton of U.S. stockists, but U gotta imagine that more pairs will materialize before too long.

(And yes, I STILL CUFF my pants, I love a d*mn cuff, that’s just who I am!)

Erin’s pick for best women’s pleated pants?? 🏆 Rachel Comey’s Lenny Pant, “which aren’t current but you can still find them here. Comey’s been doing some of the best pants for a while now — cool volume that doesn't look like you're trying too hard.”

@archibeque24 asked us for the “Best pleated pants brands,” and if the KS Gurkhas and Comey Lennys are our picks for single pairs, Lemaire’s our pick as far as a single brand. We salute many Lemaire styles, and along with their 🏆 “4-Pleats Pants,” which Erin owns & loves, the 🏆 “Belted Pleat Pant” is another unf*ckwithable embodiment of the best Lemaire TROUSER TENDENCIES: they’re wide but not goofy wide, they’re belted, and they’re cut from very nice fabric. AND they’re on sale right now in camel here and turquoise-grey here.

Erin points out that 🏆 Lauren Manoogian makes “beautiful pleated trousers, too, like these Japanese-cotton joints with recycled paper buttons for fall, and I've had my eye on these 🏆 pleated-knee pants (below left), made from an undyed linen-cotton blend that looks kind of like washi paper.”

🏆 ALSO, peep Still by Hand’s “Inverted Box Pleat Pants” — made in Japan, on sale in olive here and black here and here.

🏆 ALSO, put some respect on 18 East’s “Single Pleat Trouser”!! Their Gorecki cargo pant gets lots of justified love, but this is the true STEALTH SLAPPER at 18 East as far as we’re concerned, pictured in navy handloom diamondweave cotton above right. Cropped, pleated & slightly tapered, (and recently renamed in honor of SpyFriend Jian DeLeon??) they sell out ASAP so keep an eye out for future drops / resale gems.

🏆 Ditto the unisex “Arena pleated pant” from SpyFriends Graziano & Gutiérrez, currently up for pre-order, and the cult-adored, made-in-California 🏆 Evan Kinori single-pleat joints, silhouetted above right.

🏆 Erin’s feeling the brown pleated Studio Nicholson “Dordoni Trousers,” too, which are sick and on sale here.

“Thoughts on white pants?” asked @mister_tad.

We love white jeans, which, much like white sneakers, can get roasted, toasted and arrabiata-splattered and look that much better for the wear ‘n’ tear, on some LIFE WELL LIVED s**t.

White trousers are trickier: if you don’t dial in the overall outfit to perfect horny-but-dashing-‘60s-era-Eric Rohmer-type “rumpled elegance” specifications, you risk giving off a Saint-Tropez cosplay aura where “the pants wear you” instead of the other way around…

🏆 As always, when in doubt, go for ecru, e.g., the linen-wool “Belted easy pants” from Japan’s Sage de Cret — on sale in natural here.

“Is the best type of pant truly a baggy pant?” —@lindnerjc

As time marches on, the Pants Volume Pendulum (P.V.P.) swings from one extreme to the other, as surely as the sun rises & sets. True greatness lies somewhere between the extremes, but absolutely toward the “relaxed” end of the spectrum. Case in point —

🏆 Engineered Garments’ Andover Pants are a “safe” option in the sense that might look more or less “on trend” at any given moment, but they will NEVER look wack … relaxed fit, mid-rise, subtle DARTING up front, and they come in a ton of fabrics & colors, e.g. black 8-wale corduroy on sale here; brown 8-wale corduroy here; brown waffle cotton poly on sale here. Made in USA.

Speaking of that P.V.P. swing, I LOVED my 🏆 orSlow slim-fit fatigue pants (orSlow in general feels weirdly slept-on), but when a homie here in the East Bay bought the SICK but much roomier 🏆 MOLESKIN fatigues from Nashville’s Herrie and deemed them too big for him, we did a “FATIGUE SWAP” and yooo I do not regret it!! Great “easy” pants from a Savile Row-trained tailor.

“Should washed denim be avoided at all costs?” — @nywatch_man

Quite the contrary, it should be embraced, and if anything, raw denim which is kind of like the hazy high-ABV IPAs of the jeans-world ?? — should be viewed with a raised eyebrow at this historical juncture, after becoming such a swagless fetish object among caricaturish #menswear obsessives and Ob*ma-era “creative directors” who rocked them LIFELESSLY with, like, untucked blue-gingham shirts… 🙅‍♀️

There can still be dope raw denim the same way there can still be dope IPAs but thanks to UNSAVORY NERDS, the category is on notice 😉 !!

🏆 To that end, beyond the wise move of searching for STUPID-CHEAP stonewashed secondhand Levi’s 550s on eBay, peep 🏆 Paa’s “Four Pocket denim jean,” above restrained ‘90s-vibed joints made in the USA out of 14 oz. Japanese selvage denim. Light wash here and here; black wash here and here. 13 oz. ivory joints on sale here. Unbeatable.

🏆 Along similar lines, check out these light-wash Italian-denim jeans from Sweden’s Séfr, on sale here; and the 🏆 brand new light-wash selvage joints from the SpyFriends at NYC’s 3Sixteen, here.

“Thoughts on skinny jeans?” —@moderntabone. After a decade-plus of ubiquity, the Pants Volume Pendulum (P.V.P.) has put skinnies at their least-cool levels possible. Relatively more-fitted jeans will come back, but be very clear that JEGGING-TYPE S**TS have never been fire.

The trend right now obviously is toward much more SPACIOUS jeans… So when @elliot_online asks, “How do I convince my girlfriend to let me wear my Polar Big Boys outside the house?” — we bet she’ll come around sooner than later, player! I looked at a pic of a skater wearing Polar Big Boys a few months ago and was like, “LOL, amazing, so preposterous,” but looking again now they already seem much less preposterous and much more “normal.”

This is simply what TIME does to the EYE, it’s wild — and by the same token, pants this big will without question look TORCHED before too long. (& this is just me talking but I am already too old to wear anything this enormous — do with that what you will).

🏆 If you want a slightly less cartoonish BIG-JEAN option than the Big Boys, check out Outstanding & Company’s “‘90s Wide Fit Jeans” above left — great BIG jeans from Korea, for about $110. Stonewashed indigo (pictured) here; oatmeal here.

🏆 More ambitiously, check out Cottle’s linen-cotton “STANDARD DENIM PANTS” (above right) and 🏆 “COMFORT CARGO PANTS” (above center). We’ve written about other beloved joints from this Mach 3+ Okayama line, which is truly on its own wave… Coppable here and here.

And as far as women’s-specific jeans, Erin gives props to the 🏆 Rachel Comey Elkin pant, which she points out is “slouchy and low slung with a wide leg that looks good uncuffed”; 🏆 the Lai Lai Crescent Pant (above left) whose “balloon shape reminds me of a bow-legged sailor — curved seams, a slight bend at the knee and a tapered curve at the ankle”; and the 🏆 Mónica CorderaDenim Button Pants” (above right) where the “lightweight denim drapes really nicely and there are strategic darts that rein them in at the hips, knees and ankles for less of a JNCO feel and more of a Giorgio Armani trouser flow.” Oooo yes!

And as long as we R discussing pants that are “on their own wave” —

I respect a PATTERNED PANT but personally tend to avoid actually wearing them … Erin has some excellent, long-sold-out 🏆 checkerboard / optical-art jacquard Dusen Dusen joints she keeps in heavy rotation, but as far as current-season pants we’re both feeling 🏆 Issey Miyake Homme Plissé’s “Woven Structure Trousers” in beige & soil brown, below left

Pleated Issey pants — the trouser equivalent of NOGUCHI AKARI LAMPS — have been having a resurgence (much like Akaris), and the earth-toned energy here will help this pattern age gracefully. Available here, and if u r feeling extra splashy, there’s a matching jacket, too.

“Favorite belted climbing pants?” — @kobe_gillespie.

Battenwear has been making really nice 🏆 “bouldering pants” for a minute, and Goldwin has a sick style called the 🏆 “One Tuck Tapered Stretch Trousers.”

But if we’re talking No. 1 BELTED-GORP-PANT BBSP PANTHEON picks, you know what time it is: and Wander o’clock!! Founded by 2 ex-Issey designers, AW remain earth’s most-fire GORP-FITTERS in our books, and they make a bunch of popping belted pants. There are cool grey 🏆 “Trek Pants” on sale here, navy Treks on sale here, and beige Treks (pictured above) on sale here. And if you missed out on those cool 🏆 yellow Arc’teryx System_A pants the other day & want Mach 3+ YELLOW and Wander joints, check these and these (pictured above) — both on sale.

Woooooow, speaking of awards, When is BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE gonna get an EMMY, GRAMMY, OSCAR and TONY for coming through with the “BEST SLETTER ABOUT PANTS”?? — Jonah & Erin

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Our guide to the planet’s greatest jawns, the Master Jawn Index, is HERE.