How well do you know khakis? For instance: did you know that the pants were a favorite of Audrey Hepburn and JFK? Or that there’s a hot debate about what constitutes the difference between khakis and chinos? How about that ‘khaki’ wasn’t even an article of clothing to begin with, but a color, and then a dye, to help military troops blend into the desert landscape?
Here at LS&Co., we love our fabric and khaki is always top of mind for us. We introduced Dockers® khakis in 1986, but the company’s long-lasting love affair with the khaki pant began much, much earlier.
Sure, khaki pants are as ubiquitous as Casual Fridays, which Dockers® helped ignite, but the amount of knowledge out there about one of our favorite pants is surprisingly slim. So we wanted to pull together a few little known facts about the khaki pant—from icons who wore them, to their military roots, to the origins of the word.
Here are 15 interesting facts you might not know about the ubiquitous khaki pant:
1. The word khaki comes from a Hindi word meaning ‘dusty’ or ‘dust.’
2. Historically, khaki is a light tan or beige color, not necessarily an article of clothing.
3. It is rumored that khakis became popular in the 1840s when British Indian soldiers would dye their cotton pants in tea, curry powder, and mud to blend in with landscapes.
4. The first time khaki-colored pants were worn was likely in The Corps of Guides, a regiment of the British Indian Army, in 1846.
5. Khaki-colored dye was patented in 1884.
6. The first US khaki uniform was authorized for Naval use in 1917.
7. Khaki pants became popular in the US after World War II.
8. Jack Kerouac wore khakis.
10. Walter White wears 34W/32L Dockers® in the first episode of the just-completed hit TV series Breaking Bad. Yes, those are the pants he takes off in the middle of a New Mexico desert.
11. President John F. Kennedy often wore khaki pants.
12. The U.S. military started wearing khaki during the Spanish American war in 1898.
13. The Dockers® brand got its name in from the “Docker Pant,” which was created in 1985 in an LS&Co. factory in Japan, as homage to the English dock workers.
14. Katharine Hepburn was a big fan of khakis.
15. Dirt and grease stains on your khakis? No problem, you can use Simple Green to get them out.