I fell in love with Bjorn while I was browsing the website of contemporary denim brand Wåven. As I scrolled past the skinny fits, suddenly there he was: an unconventionally handsome pair of jeans.
No, not slim-fit. Not even even tapered. Loose. It was a denim Damascene moment. I was converted. And when I got Bjorn home and slipped into something more comfortable, there was no going back. Well, at least not until he went in the wash.
I was once narrow-minded like you. I thought wide-leg trousers were one of those beyond-the-pale pieces that fashion designers periodically tried to foist on us sceptical menfolk, perhaps out of boredom, or “for banter”. But these brave pioneers – or provocateurs – were doomed to be unsuccessful. Sure, wide-leg trousers made an impact on the runway. OK, so they created a striking silhouette. And yes, they had swagger. But off the runway? They were an unacceptable breach of breeches conduct. Sheer pantaloon-acy. To be given an equally wide berth.
In this unenlightened age, slim-fit is the orthodoxy: anything else is hosiery heresy. Doubtless the commenters are firing up burning torches and sharpening pitchforks as they read this. But as you perform your umpteenth series of pulse squats to squeeze into your slim-fit jeans, or dislocate your ankle like Riggs in Lethal Weapon to get your foot through that tapered leg opening, do you ever stop to think that there might be another way? That it might be time to broaden your horizons?
The golden compass of menswear is moving in the direction of east-to-west; increasingly, dissenting designers are challenging the current, constricting doctrine. The likes of Gordon Richardson of Topman, Patrick Grant of E. Tautz and Agi & Sam of, er, Agi & Sam are making literally and metaphorically great strides. And crucially, they’re practising what they preach by wearing them, proving that they look unusually good in real life too.
The high street is yet to catch up, still opiating the masses of top-heavy Johnny Bravo-alikes with meagre meggings that appeal to the lower-half common denominator. But already the more forward-looking brands like Whistles can feel the wind of change billowing their newly sail-like legwear.
Revolutionary though they may seem, wide-leg trousers are not exactly a novel concept. ‘Oxford bags’ as they became known date back to the 1920s, when stunting undergrads at the eponymous uni wore trousers with hems of up to 40 inches – and looked like dons. Frank Sinatra did wide-leg trousers his way in the 1950s. And David Bowie did frankly whatever the hell he wanted in the 1970s – which included wide-leg trousers.
“Yes, but Bowie is a sartorial extraterrestrial,” you cry. But even for us style earthlings, wide-leg trousers are more wearable than you probably imagine. They are undoubtedly a statement – but that means you don’t really need to try that hard. Uncertain at first, I essayed my new Wåven jeans with my most tried-and-tested staples: a bomber jacket, plain T-shirt, adidas Stan Smiths. The jeans were the only wild card in the deck. Not only did I feel confident enough to wear them that way, but I was also doing ‘a thing’ without really doing all that much.
Some things I’ve learnt: all that extra material necessitates a nipped-in waist, whether in the form of a cropped jacket or a tailored one, to prevent you ballooning. You’ll also want some sufficiently hefty footwear for balance: say, a chunky trainer or boot. And for the uninitiated, denim is an easy way into the trend, tying it back to reassuringly masculine workwear.
Wide-leg trousers are easy to wear in another sense too. After years of spray-on oppression, it’s like being freed from a stonewash straightjacket. Suddenly I can move around with ease. Put things in my pocket. Sit down without a cheese-cutter bisecting my crotch. Truly liberating.
Indeed, you wonder why nobody thought of them before – except that they did. Thankfully, fashion is cyclical, and wide-leg trousers are getting another long-overdue play. Pump up the volume.