History Lessons On The Gurkha Pants

Posted by Ethan M. Wong on

Written By Alexander Esmail & Ethan M. Wong

Gurkha pants have been in vogue for the better part of three years, and unlike other trends, this one has stuck. The extra visual interest in the top block of the trousers is part of its charm, with overlapping straps fastened by stylized buckles on each side - but where did these trousers come from and what was its purpose?

The word “Gurkha” derives from the town of Gorkha, a small town in Nepal. This name has since become synonymous with Nepalise soldiers who held a reputation for being fierce warriors that fought off the British East India Company, being both revered and feared for their quickness and willingness to put their lives on the line. However, their impressiveness soon meant that even their former enemies enlisted them to fight for the British Army.
Originally designed for hotter climes, “Gurkhas” were generally only available as shorts and featured a wide leg opening for optimal airflow. Typically worn high on the waist, these shorts oozed an air of sophistication, despite being made for the jungle battlefield. What is most interesting, perhaps, is the reason for the belt system. The harsh conditions that the soldiers endured during long periods of deployment in unfamiliar and humid territories often meant that they would fluctuate in weight, and would have had different waistline measurements from week to week. The innovation of a highly adjustable and secure waistband system meant that the shorts could be cinched or loosened to fit, and thus avoided the need for new uniforms in such situations.

Vintage Banana Republic advertisement, pre-buyout by the Gap (image via Heddels.com)
Although only originally offered in a standard khaki twill by the British military, the Gurkha pants soon gained momentum in the 1980’s as a fashion item, with even the likes of Banana Republic selling their own version of the military garments. Nowadays, longer versions of the shorts have gained steam in the #menswear community and have been offered in a myriad of colours and materials - perhaps in the widest variety by us at Craftsman Clothing.

Enamored by the unique closure, Nepalese roots, and military function of the original trouser, we’ve always made gurkha pants a core part of the Craftsman Clothing offering, made in four season cotton twill. Our Cortina gurkhas pants have a high waist and self cinch closure just like the originals, though they’re available in more than just tan and beige: You can find them in somber navy, rugged greens, and a vibrant cornflower blue.

Based on the popularity of the four season core collection we’ve even produced a few unique spins on the traditional gurkha for a modern clientele.  Japanese denim in raw indigo, off-white, and a retro stonewash are just some of our current favorites that routinely sell out!  We’ve even done a few runs in textured Indian linen for a summer variation.  Just be sure to check the size guide to make sure you get the right fit.

We’re also proud to announce that version 2.0 of our Gurkha pants is better than ever. Specifically, we have adjusted the fit through the thigh area and deepened the seat so that it is more forgiving to those of us with “thunder thighs”.  We just love going to the gym!

Our 2020 High Summer Drop marked the launch of our newest addition to the gurkha pant family: gurkha shorts. The design and fit is similar to our pants, just cut to the perfect length for those extremely hot days. Delving deeper into our vintage inspiration, we’ve even used a button fly.  The gurkha shorts are currently available in our subtle cotton-linen-silk melange in multiple colors as well as premium Japanese denim, but if you like them, we may bring them in other fabrics in the future!

Honestly, there’s plenty of places to look at for style inspiration for wearing our gurkha pants and shorts. Our founders Tobe and Tsz love wearing them, but even the influencer Blake Scott and famed menswear photographer Milad Abedi can’t resist the allure of the Craftsman Clothing gurkha pant. Our  rule of thumb is: wear it with anything and everything from a sport coat to clean white sneakers. Trust us; gurkha pants and gurkha shorts will go with everything.  You’ll never go back to boring pants ever again.


@blakescott Menswear Blogger/Influencer Wearing Our Natural Dyed Japanese Denim
@milad_abedi Photographer Extraordinaire, Wearing Our Gurkhas Pants In The Stonewashed Japanese Denim
Co-founder Tsz In Our Olive Corduory Gurkha Pants and The Rake's Exclusive GRANT A-1 Blouson

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  • Hi
    I’m tearing my hair out here!
    I wish to order a Bordeaux Mc Queen suede A/2 bomber in a U K chest size 40 inch
    Your sizes seem to start at 44 !?
    I’m ‘good to go’ on this if you can arrange
    Robert C Smith

    Rob Smith on

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