If you’ve been reading my columns over the last few months, you’ll note I’ve been somewhat obsessed with finding the ultimate pair of do-anything pants. As I start to reengage with the post Covid, outside world, I want to be ready for just about any occasion.
Evidently, I’m not alone.
The pandemic has transformed my relationship with clothing and just about everyone else’s.
People in general are buying fewer garments.
According to a recent piece in Fast Company, fashion industry revenues dropped about one third last year. But there’s a caveat to that statement. Consumers were choosier but actually increased spending on “casual” wear” and “active” wear.
In the active apparel department crossover wear–clothing that can be used in any number of environments has become an important niche. Whether it’s a hike up Tantalus, a BBQ (yes, that’s happening again) or a visit to Costco you’ll want something that’s durable and practical.
Looking decent is always very much still part of the equation but people don’t seem to be consumed with looking like they walked out of a Gucci ad.
Consumers (like yours truly) are also buying a helluva lot more online.
Not only are we purchasing from well known retailers such as Amazon or Patagonia but smaller outfits that specialize in niche apparel. (Of course, that’s the beauty of the Internet). You don’t need brick and mortar to sell directly to “end users” as they say in the tech industry.
That’s where Brooklyn-based Outlier fits in. They call their products “material for the city,” which sounds very urbane. It is urbane but it’s not presumptuous or overly “hip”.
The first thing that interested me was their Slim Dungarees. The Outlier website proclaims, “If you only own a single pair of pants, these are the ones.”
They have a point.
This seems to have become their “flagship” pants. Again, to riff off their website, Slim Dungarees are a “superior” five-pocket pant, made from fabric that is strong, very comfortable and chameleon-like enough to be worn any day of the year, anywhere you go.
They are incredibly versatile and for someone like me (a bona fide author of Lonely Planet guidebooks) they are ideal to have in your bag. They can be worn in just about situation.
Even with the classic 5-pocket jeans design, they are classier and a more formal than than what you might conjure up from the word “jeans” or dungarees for that matter. You can dress up or down with ease. You’ll be fine with them on the Eurail, headed to Barcelona, or at Aunt Minnie’s cookout in Gilroy.
They are indeed a slim fit, but you won’t confuse that with old fashioned pegged pants. They are tailored with a standard cut abut they don’t call them slim for nothing.
They are not going to work if you’re a tackle for the Steelers but most of us aren’t in that category. That said they are tough and feature a gusseted crotch and a reverse yoke so they will stand up to a lot of movement.
Thus you could wear them on a hike, on your bike or simply for everyday wear.
What I like about them is their comfort.
Manufactured from a fabric that is 82% Nylon, 16% Polyester 2% Elastine, they have enough stretch (two-way) so that you’ll feel good but not so tight that you look or feel like you’re wearing spandex. (The fabric comes from Switzerland and the manufacturing was done in Portugal).
The fabric is soft, breathable and will keep you comfy in both warm and moderate climates. The material will repel water but if you’re caught in the rain, you’ll eventually get soaked. The good news is that in 30 minutes they’ll dry.
That makes them a good choice for travel. Pockets are deep so you can place your passport or Yankee dollars way down there in the webbed pockets.
I really like these pants and they flatter the hell out of me.
Colors offered are black and bluetint gray–I got the latter.
Injected Linen Pants
My second foray into Outlier land was a pair of their “injected linen” line.
What exactly does that mean?
Linen of course is a lightweight, very breathable fabric as old as the hills.
The “injected” part is where the technology comes in. Injected linen has the breathability and light weight of an open weave but the durability of a closed weave. It’s a hybrid linen (59% linen/41% polyester) that looks and feels like the traditional fabric but has been fortified.
It’s of Japanese origin and has a sort of pinstripe look that evidently is the result of the injected fibers.
Unlike the dungarees, it’s more of a relaxed cut that tends to drape over my hips in a very comfortable manner. Sort of reminds of the way that the ACU (American Combat Uniform) camo pants fit.
The result is a very relaxed, casual look that goes really well with a fancy merino T-shirts which are so popular these days. Or, like the Slims, you can dress up with a fancier top and appropriate shoes.
The only issue I have with full on linen is that it tends to easily crease. These pants, with the injected polyester content, are not as prone to wrinkle and instead take on a waviness. Put them in a suitcase and you’re not going to have to have an iron handy (as you would with traditional linen).
When would you wear them?
I think they are a tad more formal than the dungarees. The injected linen is perfect hot weather because they are so light. You can feel the breeze blow right through your legs. In Honolulu, in September, that’s a good thing.
They come in a host of colors, black, seascape, dark forest, olive drab, plumsmoke, dry tan and steel. I got the steel which is neutral enough to work with many of my shirts.
I’d say this is also a wonderful summer or tropical travel pant.
Price for both the dungarees and the injected linen pants are $198. You need to go directly to Outlier’s website.
If you dress like an Outlier you’ll be in good stead and good style.
Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and Fijiguide.com. (He appreciates a good pair of pants).