Why have men’s shorts gotten longer?

Men’s shorts are getting longer. Only 3 years ago, young men were wearing 5-inch (about 12.7 cm) inseams that barely covered their thighs. Jump to today, and a new wind is blowing, delivering extra-long shorts to us. This summer is the summer of the seven-quarter men’s pants.
Loose-fitting shorts can be loose-fitting to a very excessive degree these days,” says Kevin Carney, co-owner of Mohawk General Store, a boutique clothing store in Los Angeles. ” Admittedly, while the store still offers a variety of super-short fits, the degree to which shorts are baggy has expanded. The store sells knee-length Bermuda shorts from Jacquemus, Studio Nicholson, and his own label, Smock, with the longest, from Japanese label Sillage, being a pair of calf-length lantern pants that Carney calls “huge.”
At Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June 2023, long shorts were on full display: Kenzo’s work shorts covered almost the entire calf; Givenchy’s casual formal shorts were three-quarters of the model’s leg; and Louis Vuitton’s balloon-shaped shorts were almost as wide as they were long.
Even before this summer, vintage-chasing Gen Z shoppers were already wearing long shorts. Ernest Valenzuela, who works at a vintage store in Toronto, says, “Everyone I ask, they’re looking for longer shorts, the kind that go past the knee.” He says the store has stocked 120 to 150 pairs of extended inseam shorts in the past two months.
Valenzuela himself has been attracted to sagging denim shorts lately, claiming that shorter shorts have a doctored, sporty look. Shorter inseam shorts, he says, “make you feel like you’re going to the gym or something”. That clean-cut athleticism was once touted as an asset. Men with some sort of gym membership liked to show off their toned thighs. Of course, many still do today. A popular neo-preppy style brand, Chubbies, specializes in shorts that come just above the knee, with the tagline, “Summer for thigh men,” on its website.
But as with all fashion trends, the super-short craze of the past few summers has backfired on some. James Harris, one of the hosts of the popular men’s fashion podcast Throwing Fits, says the look is “a little bit saturated. Nowadays, it reminds him of “white frat boys,” which he calls the “death knell” of a trend that permeates from the top down.
Thigh-baring, once seen as indecent, has become a habit. In its place, Mr. Harris said, “debauchery has moved up.” He was referring to the new faces and trendsetters in cities like New York and Los Angeles who have begun to favor lace blouses and plunging tops.

This year it’s all about super-shorts, next year it’s all about seven-quarter length pants – the ebb and flow of men’s shorts shows that the pace of change in men’s dress trends is accelerating. Once upon a time, it took years, if not decades, for men to rethink the width of their lapels or the length of their pants.
Today’s consumers are volatile, more likely to be swayed by what they see on apps like Jitterbug or Instagram, and less rigid in their ideas of what to wear. Agyesh Madan, co-founder of New York-based brand Stoffa, says, “Men have a more open mind to experimentation.” He says customers who once bought dry shorts are turning to the brand’s new wide-brimmed knee-length shorts.
Admittedly, baggy shorts have been around for a long time. New York designer Willy Chavarria notes that for many, the touchpoint for long shorts is the ’90s skateboarder or rapper, such as The Notorious B.I.G., who favored ridiculously large work shorts. “It really harkens back to that hip-hop era.” He says.
In his own designs, Chaviria favors large silhouettes, including casual shorts that hang down to the calf, which were recently worn by Kendrick Lamar. Chaviria says he was inspired by the Chicano underclass teenage culture of the 1940s, where intrepid Chicano (Mexican) teenagers wore zoot suits made from miles of material – proving that large sizes are nothing new.
Most proponents of extended shorts don’t have any history in mind when they buy 12-inch-long, in-seam overalls; they just find them comfortable. Longer shorts “look more casual,” says Valenzuela. A pair of bulky, loose-fitting shorts gives an unobtrusive ease, a far cry from the taut flair of some super-shorts.
Even though the inseam is moving down, too much length is undesirable. Podcast anchor Harris noticed on a recent trip to Italy that he saw a man wearing a tight pair of seven-quarter length shorts that Harris wasn’t too keen on. “Where the hell is the bottom line?” He said. While he admits that some almost ankle-length JNCO jeans look OK on some people, he still insists that shorts should be no more than 2 to 3 inches above the knee.
Mertz Nicolson, a 21-year-old student in Berkeley, California, agrees: “The optimal length is just below the knee.” He’s recently started to enjoy wearing long shorts. “I saw a picture of someone wearing ankle-length baggy shorts and I was like, I don’t know if that even counts as shorts.”



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