Written By Alexander Esmail
"Lawyer and admirer of thoughtful menswear - equally obsessive about Japanese workwear as he is about tailoring."
Gurkha trousers have been in vogue for the better part of three years, and unlike other trends, this one has stuck. The extra visual interest in the top block of the trousers is part of its charm, with overlapping straps fastened by stylised buckles on each side - but where did these trousers come from and what was its purpose?
The word “Gurkha” derives from the town of Gorkha, a small town in Nepal. This name has since become synonymous with Nepalise soldiers who held a reputation for being fierce warriors that fought off the British East India Company, being both revered and feared for their quickness and willingness to put their lives on the line. However, their impressiveness soon meant that even their former enemies enlisted them to fight for the British Army.
Originally designed for hotter climes, “Gurkhas” were generally only available as shorts and featured a wide leg opening for optimal airflow. Typically worn high on the waist, these shorts oozed an air of sophistication, despite being made for the jungle battlefield. What is most interesting, perhaps, is the reason for the belt system. The harsh conditions that the soldiers endured during long periods of deployment in unfamiliar and humid territories often meant that they would fluctuate in weight, and would have had different waistline measurements from week to week. The innovation of a highly adjustable and secure waistband system meant that the shorts could be cinched or loosened to fit, and thus avoided the need for new uniforms in such situations.
Vintage Banana Republic advertisement, pre-buyout by the Gap (image via Heddels.com)
Although only originally offered in a standard khaki twill by the British military, the Gurkha trouser soon gained momentum in the 1980’s as a fashion item, with even the likes of Banana Republic selling their own version of the military garments. Nowadays, longer versions of the shorts have gained steam in the #menswear community and have been offered in a myriad of colours and materials - perhaps in the widest variety by Craftsman Clothing.
Now that you know the history, grab a pair (or two) of your favourite Gurkha trousers below so that the next time your friend sees you wearing a pair, you can school them on its Nepalese roots and military function. Our personal favourite at the moment is the brand new pair in Natural Dyed Selvedge Denim, which is as versatile as they come. Be sure to size up one size from your normal waist size for the intended fit. We are also proud to announce that version 2.0 of our Gurkha trouser is better than ever. Specifically, we have adjusted the fit through the thigh area and deepened the seat so that it is more forgiving to those of us with “thunder thighs”.
For styling tips, look no further than the co-founders of Craftsman Clothing, Tobe and Tsz. Their rule of thumb is: wear it with anything and everything from a sport coat to clean white sneakers.
@blakescott Menswear Blogger/Influencer Wearing Our Natural Dyed Japanese Denim
@milad_abedi Photographer Extraordinaire, Wearing Our Gurkhas Trousers In The Stonewashed Japanese Denim
Co-founder Tsz In Our Olive Corduory Gurkhas and The Rake's Exclusive GRANT A-1 Blouson