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‘Fashionable pockets’: The transnational rise of cargo pants into popular culture

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During the twentieth century, cargo pants have gone from a traditional military uniform to a popular casual pant worn by almost every segment in the global consumer market. Since the 1970s, when hippies wore army surplus vintage styles as a sign of protesting the Vietnam War until today, cargo pants have undergone a considerable transformation, changing in both fabrications and form. This article will examine the origins, histories and myths surrounding the development of cargo pants as a military garment. It will highlight the rise of cargo pants into mass culture through various popular culture intermediaries such as the military, subcultural style, film, media, retail and merchandising; demonstrating how this garment has become part of world dress and transnational mass fashion, as well as an icon in global popular culture.

Keywords: Abercrombie & Fitch; Ralph Lauren; cargo pants; fatigues; mass fashion; military; world dress

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Drexel University 2: Independent Scholar

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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