The Story Behind Chinos, Men's Casual Staple

Photo: Braun Hamburg

Named after the fabric they are made of, the chinos moved on from a military garment to a menswear casual staple with a little help from a number of famous celebrities, including John F. Kennedy, Steve McQueen and Pablo Picasso.

While the U.S. style lexicon refers to them as khakis, a name that comes from the characteristic shade of the original version developed in the mid 19th century, returning war veterans began wearing the chinos as part of their casual weekend outfits, right after the World War II.

Photo: Getty Images

During the 1950s and 60s, the chinos competed with the more rebellious denim trousers to become men’s first choice when it came to casual wear. When Levi's launched Dockers in 1986, chinos quickly became the yuppies’ top choice, especially during the Casual Friday - coupled with an oxford shirt and a navy blazer.

Today, any hardcore fan will prefer his chinos to be made from Cramerton Army Cloth, the fabric originally developed by a textile producer Stuart Warren Cramer in the 1920s and sold to the American army and used in the World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. 

For those of us who take a particular interest in casual wear, the pleasure of wearing chinos never gets old. Here are three of our recent favorites and some visual suggestions on how to wear them.

PT Torino Reporter
Halfway between fatigue and sartorial pants, PT01 revisited their chinos with a deep love of classic workwear style. Functional elements are turned into sophisticated details, becoming the perfect complement to any street casual outfit.

Photo: Braun Hamburg / Robert Spangle

De Petrillo Modello A
Neapolitan tailor house De Petrillo created a full cut, cotton chino with a high rise, double inward-facing pleats, side adjusters, and an unfinished hem measuring 25cm. The Modello A trousers draw its inspiration from the 1950s, becoming a sophisticated and elegant alternative to contemporary chinos.

Photo: Baltzar / De Petrillo

Ring Jacket Cotton Single Pleat Chino
Newest trouser model from Ring Jacket featuring single pleats and side tabs, has a slightly higher rise than their flat front model. It is made from a soft, washed Japanese cotton in the perfect shade of tan to be worn casually or with an unstructured sport coat.

Photo: Ring Jacket