Over the last decade or so, cargo pants have enjoyed quite the wild ride. At the turn of the millennium they were a mall rat must-have, often paired with tight ringer tees, puka shell necklaces, and maybe a set of freshly frosted tips. After a few years on the bench, they roared back into menswear’s starting lineup, this time in the sleeker, slimmer silhouette that dominated the fashion conversation throughout the 2010s. Now, cargos find themselves in the midst of yet another resurgence, cut with the big, baggy proportions of the pre-internet age—which, it turns out, look right on the money in 2022. Naturally, you could spend a couple hundred bucks tracking down the most era-authentic version flown in from Japan and done up in a fabric so hardy it’ll outlast your interest in ‘em. Or you could just buy Rothco’s pitch-perfect pair for forty bucks and call it a day.

Rothco it, pains us slightly to admit, has long been the country’s largest supplier of military apparel, the brand behind a slew of classic Army/Navy items that’ve since crossed over into the civilian lexicon: M-65 field jackets, N2B bomber jackets, fishtail parkas, the works. But their cargos have the highest trending trajectory at the moment because they deliver on the details that everyone, from TikTok-reared sneakerheads to OG menswear obsessives, is clamoring for today: pocket space aplenty; an adjustable, high-rise waist; cinchable ankles; and reinforced panels at the hindquarters for extra durability. 

Here’s where we should note that cosplaying in full-on military gear is never a good look. So to avoid leaning too literally into the source material, freak your cargos with a corduroy bucket hat, cropped puffer jacket, and alpine boots, or reach for a scuzzy beanie, gorped-to-the-max raincoat, and your chunkiest pair of kicks. The Military Industrial Complex is nefarious and far-reaching, it’s true, but sometimes it yields a product actually worthy of your tax dollars—provided, of course, you know exactly how to style it. 

Rothco relaxed fit BDU cargo pants

Jake Woolf

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