Skip to content

What's the Deal With Khaki, Anyway?

The History of Khaki

Khaki pants have a long history, dating back to the mid-19th century and the British Indian Army. Here's a timeline of their journey:

Military Beginnings (1840s): British troops stationed in India found their red wool uniforms to be impractical for the hot climate. They adopted loose-fitting trousers made from locally-sourced, lightweight cotton, dyed with mud and plant extracts for a natural camouflage effect. The word "khaki" itself comes from the Hindustani word for "soil-colored." It marked the introduction of camouflage in official military uniforms. Interestingly, a perfected khaki dye was patented just before the Second Boer War in 1899, and the color of the British uniform remained relatively unchanged through World War II.

From Battlefield to Everyday Wear (Early 1900s): The Spanish-American War (1898) saw American soldiers adopting similar khaki colored trousers, sometimes called "chinos" after the Spanish word for "China" where the fabric may have been sourced. Levi Strauss & Co. also recognized the popularity of fine trousers and introduced khakis into its line as early as 1905. Following the World Wars, returning servicemen brought khaki pants back into civilian life, where they gained popularity as a more casual and comfortable alternative to formal wear.

Popularity Soars (Mid-20th Century): The use of khaki by Hollywood actresses in the 1930s and 1940s helped to break down gender norms and further propel the style into mainstream fashion. By the 1950s, khakis became a staple in both men's and women's wardrobes, particularly for leisure activities and outdoor wear.

Modern Khakis: Today, khakis come in a variety of styles, colors, and fits. They can be dressed up or down, making them a versatile choice for work, travel, and casual outings

So, khakis have quite a storied history! Get some for yourself - shop customer-favorites Bills Khakis, Berle, Charleston Khakis, and Ballin.

Your cart is empty