Cargo pants originated in the 1930s and were developed by the British military who were looking to create a more practical and functional uniform for troops. The new trouser design— which featured one pocket on the side thigh and one on the hip pocket— was rolled out in 1938 as part of the British military’s new Battle Dress Uniform. Eventually, the cargo pant became an essential part of military uniforms worldwide and has remained so, with examples including recent uniforms worn by Australian troops in Afghanistan. Its benefits include comfortable fit and functional pockets to store field dressing, ammunition and other small equipment and supplies.
In the 1990s, cargo pants became popular across civilian fashion. The dressed-down, functional design trouser was an all-gender style that had mass appeal. Although considered un-fashionable by some, the cargo pant has continued to find its way into wardrobes and runways alike.
Reviewed 15 November 2023