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Nice Pants: Dockers & the Khaki Trouser

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Dockers® is Khaki and Khaki is Dockers®. It’s impossible to say one without thinking the other. 

It’s rare to find a brand to achieve synonymity with a color. Some do this well in associating a color with their branding (UPS with brown, Hermes with orange) but not in association of color with product. It’s a commitment that not many have the ability nor courage to see through, yet Dockers® has managed to do just that: build a compelling and democratic concept around a single color, and spend 35 years committed to celebrating it. 

Nice Pants: Dockers & the Khaki Trouser

Despite its somewhat recent founding in 1986, Dockers®’ story really begins many decades earlier. Dockers®’ parent company, Levis Strauss & Co., had been experimenting with different types of khaki-colored canvas fabrics in their trousers from the early 20th century onward as the color gained in popularity for military use. By the time WWII troops had returned home and began utilizing their khaki trousers for civilian activities, LS & Co. quickly translated the trend into a line of trousers made of Cramerton cloth - the gold standard of khaki twill fabric at the time, and to this day. Khaki pants proved incredibly versatile. They became the go-to for weekend and casual wear; everyone from suburbanites to vagabond surfer and creative beatnik types wore khakis. 

A few decades later, the concept for the Dockers® brand began to take shape. Japan became the catalyst: the public was asking for another type of everyday pants, but something more casual than the suit and tie, and still different than the already widespread Levi’s blue jeans. In the early 80s, designers from Levi Strauss Japan, inspired by the name given to a line of nautical-inspired fashion jeans created by Levi Strauss Argentina, appropriate the name for their new line of casual trousers. The launch of this new line proved so successful that by 1986, the team at Levi Strauss saw an opportunity. Using the British term for longshoremen, they officially launched the Dockers® brand.

Since then, Dockers® has brought the concept of the khaki trouser to just about every corner of the world. With a distinctly Californian point of view, they ushered in a new era of ease in dressing, inspiring a generation to challenge traditional barriers and norms while instituting the Khaki trouser as one of the most iconic apparel items in human history.

Great Moments in Dockers History

1986 - LS&Co. launches the Dockers® brand, revolutionizing the way fashion brands spoke to men via their Talking Pants advertising campaign. The commercial became a pop-culture phenomenon, eventually becoming the subject of a popular Seinfeld scene in 1991. 

1992 - Dockers® nudges the Khakis for the office trend forward when it sends their evidence-based Guide to Casual Businesswear manifesto to 25,000 HR managers across America. In shorthand, Dockers® invents Casual Fridays.

1993 - Women’s Dockers® receives its first TV ad campaign.

1995 - Dockers® debuts the Nice Pants TV ad campaign, attracting a younger audience in embracing the khaki craze.

1997 - Bill Clinton is leading the free world in pleated khakis. On Friday, September 27, the New York Stock Exchange permits khakis on the trading floor for the first time in its 205-year history.

Malcolm Gladwell publishes “Listening to Khakis” in the New Yorker, an distinctly Gladwellian article utilizing khakis as a lens by which to analyze the way men think.

1998 - Cartoon dad Homer Simpson is revealed to be a Dockers® Man.

1999 - Dockers® launches K-1 khakis, Dockers® first global product, utilizing Cramerton 1932 army uniform cloth.

Massimo Osti designs the Equipment for Legs for Dockers® in Europe, the same year Osti is awarded the title of "Most Influential Man in Men's Fashion of the 90s". 

2001 - Time Magazine names Dockers® Mobile Pant as one of the year’s best inventions. 

2004 – Dockers® introduces innovations such as the Never Iron, Perspiration Guard & Thermal Adapt.

2010 - Dockers introduces Water<less techniques into their production methods, reducing the use of water required in the dyeing and finishing processes.

2011 – The Dockers® Alpha Khaki is launched, “where jeans end and khakis begin.”

2013 - Dockers® introduces their Wellthread initiative, which combined environmental conservation with sustainable design and a strong focus on worker wellbeing, resulting in better-designed clothes made more mindfully than ever.

2020 – Dockers® launches “Work Forward”, a new media campaign that focuses on progress, and both people and planet friendly projects and initiatives.

Dockers® celebrates 10 Years of Water<Less production methods with the launch of a special Water<less collection.

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