The Roll Call: Military Trousers
It’s no secret that the world of vintage military clothing plays a huge part in Nigel Cabourn’s design process, and nowhere is this more obvious than his trouser range. From the camo pattern used on his cargo pants, to the subtle pleats found on his chinos, each design references functional details from the military world—bringing them right up to date for modern civilian use.
With a good portion of the SS21 now online, now seemed like a good time to look at this season’s trousers…
Up first, we’ve got the Tool Pants. These have been turning a fair few heads this season, and it’s not that hard to see why. They’re a relaxed pair of cargo pants, which feature a unique camouflage design which was originally devised by Nigel back in the ‘80s, designed by Nigel in the 80s, and based around the broad ‘brushstrokes’ camo which was worn by the British SAS during the Second World War. This was one of the earliest camos used in warfare, and was literally painted onto fabric. The Cabourn version keeps that loose, free-form flavour, but the usual earth tones have been replaced with a brighter palette.
Made from a lightweight blend of cotton and linen, these have a light, breezy feel—making them ideal for summer skirmishes.
Another fresh design for SS21, the Race Pants take inspiration from the functional clothing worn by racing car drivers in the 1950s. Taking cues from vintage race-suit design, they’re made from a hard-wearing mix of canvas and herringbone cotton, and feature articulated knees. This is a detail often found on driving clothes to help give a bit of extra leg movement whilst sat in a cramped drivers’ seat.
Like the Tool Pants, these are probably best described as ‘cargo pants’, and feature a plethora of pockets big enough for stuffing all manner of prized possessions, as well as a relaxed, roomy shape.
It’s also worth mentioning that these can be worn with the Race Jacket to make a standout utility suit.
What do we need to say about the British Army Pants? These have been a fixture of the Lybro work-wear range for the last few years, and have become a bit of a modern Cabourn classic. Slightly more subtle than the other cargo pants on this list, they take their shape from the iconic Battle Dress trousers introduced by the British Army in 1938 and famously worn during WW2. Designed to work seamlessly with the rest of the kit given to soldiers, the Battle Dress trousers featured a unique asymmetrical pocket configuration—with a small pleated pocket on the right leg intended for field dressing, and a larger bellows pocket on the left for maps.
The British Army Pants pay homage to these historic trousers, but swap the original wool fabric for a slightly more summer-friendly blend of cotton and linen—and whilst it might be said that not many people these days are lugging around massive fold-out maps, those trademark pockets still come in mighty handy.
Chinos—the military trousers for those who don’t normally like military trousers. Tough, yet stripped-back, they’ve been a reliable summer option ever since American GIs returned from the Pacific Theater at the end of WW2 with their standard-issue chinos stashed in their duffle bags.
These are the Cabourn versions. Based around vintage military chinos, they’ve got pleats on the waist, brace buttons (as well as belt loops) and a relaxed fit with a slightly tapered leg. As with the British Army Pants, this season they’re made from that textured blend of cotton and linen, meaning they’ve got a light, cool handle that makes them ideal for the summer months.
Make sure to follow us on our social media channels for the latest SS21 drops. We have another exclusive drop of pants coming very soon. Including Combat Pants, British Army Pants, Farm Pants and Bombay Bloomers. Follow us on Instagram here, or sign up to our newsletters to be the first to know about drops here.