Monday, 8 June 2009

Docker's K1 Khakis.

I don't know zilch about khakis so, according to Wiki, "Khaki is a type of fabric or the colour of such fabric. The name comes from the Persian word khâk (dust/ashes) which came to English from India, specifically via the British Indian Army". Furthermore, it says, "there are two common, and not too dissimilar, definitions of the word "khaki": One is that it is a Hindi word meaning earth-coloured or dust-coloured; The other is that the idiomatic Hindi for faeces is "khaki" and, in fact, many ex-British Army colonialists are familiar with the word "khaki" as the equivalent of the English "shit"., that's interesting.
Wiki further added, "Regardless of its precise etymology, "khaki" refers to the colour of uniforms introduced by the army regiments in the 1880s. More accurately, the correct shade of "khaki" is the colour of "Multani Mitti", meaning "the mud of Multan".
It seems khakis is highly associated with 19th Century military uniform. Wiki says, "In 1846 Sir Harry Lumsden raised a corps of Guides for frontier service from Indian recruits at Peshawar. Regiments serving in the region had adopted properly dyed khaki uniforms for active service and summer dress. The original khaki fabric was a closely twilled cloth of linen or cotton. The British Army adopted khaki for the campaign dress in 1897, and it was used in the Second Boer War (1899-1902). The United States Army adopted khaki during the Spanish American War(1898). It has become de rigueur for military uniforms of militaries the world over (e.g., the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps), as well as the police forces of many South Asian countries and U.S. states and counties. It has also spread to civilian clothing, where "khakis" since the 1950s has meant tan cotton twill pants/trousers.
So, what about "chino"? It says, "Chino cloth is a kind of twill fabric, usually made primarily from cotton. Originally used in British and French military uniforms in the mid-1800s, today it is also used to make civilian clothing. Chino pants gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1900s after military men returning from the Philippines after the Spanish-American War brought back their cotton military trousers. These pants were originally made in China. "Chino" is the Spanish term for Chinese, and most of the people who wear chino cloth, especially in the Philippines, are peasants (Camisa de chino); hence the fabric and these pants picked up the name. The first chinos sold in the U.S. were U.S. Army military-issue pants, and in order to save fabric during WWII-era constraints, they had no pleats and were tapered at the bottom of the leg.
The original military pants were khaki in colour.Chino pants/trousers, or simply chinos, refer to a type of lightweight cotton trousers made from Chino cloth. Though they are sometimes confused with khakis, chinos are of dressier style similar to that of suit trousers and as such can be considered a smart casual form of dress."
What about "cargo" pants? Wiki says, "Cargo pants (cargo trousers) are much like regular khaki pants, but were designed originally for tough, outdoor activities. They are baggier, permitting free movement, made of hardwearing, quick-drying fabrics, with tough stitching, and have large belt loops and several additional patch pockets."
Hhmm...that explains alot and pretty helpful. Of course there are self appointed online khakis fashion gurus who will further advice how to wear it and the details to look for in repros, just like denim and sneakers.
Back in 2000, Docker's issued a limited quantity of K-1 Cramerton fabric khakis and I managed to secure a pair. Costing a bomb, it is the first in Docker's attempt to take a dip into the vintage inspired niche market. It is very roomy and if not mistaken, weight about 9oz, thus thicker than average fabric. It uses the Cramerton army cloth that Levi Strauss offered to the army back in 1932, of which a small cache were found in a warehouse. Its cut is well, fuller and roomier, slightly tapered and flat front (I hate pleats). And darn, do I love the weight of the fabric. Button fly made from original 40s US army mold.
Then in 2008, Docker announced a limited pairs of 455 K-1 khakis woven on vintage loom, selvedge etc., I looked forward the release and secured another my dismay, the cut is well...just not what I expected, low low waist, non tapered (almost flare...) with side buckles on the waist...a complete opposite of the first issuance. It is also very light. Wearing it, I feel almost...naked.
Today, I went and got another pair, this time limited to 1000 pairs. Not as good as the Cramerton but waaay more improved than the 08 version I would say. It now comes with cinchback and suspender buttons. Of course it is still selvedge as it is woven on a vintage loom. At least the 2-ply fabric is now thicker. But somehow, I have a nagging feeling that I would be better off getting one of those Buzz Rickson's or Toys McCoys re-issue or even a normal K-1 range, which at least won't break my wallet...

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