Classic K-1 khakis, $68 by Dockers
Other than a pair of jeans, it's hard to think of a more American garment than the chino. It should be noted though, the casual cotton pants weren't invented here in the States. Their story begins on the other side of the globe a long time ago. And it starts, like so many pieces of men's fashion lore, with the military.
In the 1840s, British colonial soldiers marching through India dyed their white uniforms to match the terrain's dusty, saffron-hued sand. In fact, the term khaki is derived from the Hindi word khak, meaning "dust-colored." Eventually, every solider was outfitted in khaki cotton uniforms and soon they became standard issue for many of the world's military. But it was young American soldiers who introduced the pant to civilians—sporting their uniform chinos on college campuses after returning from World War II.
Durable, comfortable and adaptable to any range of styles and colors, the young men wore the drill-cloth pants with everything from T-shirts and sneakers to oxford cloth button-downs and loafers. And because the trousers were as timeless as they were durable, the style endured. Which is why Dockers faithfully recreated the G.I. chino with their K-1 khaki, based on vintage military models from the Levi's archive in San Francisco. "As Americans, we have an innate response to design that's practical, functional and serves a purpose—it's in our DNA," says Nathan Laffin, head of design for Dockers. "Chinos have quietly served and protected us for ages, earning their rightful place among the symbols of manhood at its best."