In recent years, a healthy number of brands have embraced drawstring pants. Along with the requisite drawstring, most of these styles supplement elastic at the waist for added comfort. And that’s the key to these new pants from Outerknown: they’re easy-fitting, good-feeling and relaxed. The laid-back nature doesn’t imply sloppiness, though, and the silhouette is much closer to a traditional chino than a sweatpant. This gives the hybrid pant a wealth of versatility, appropriate in a wide range of casual settings. The question, of course, is whether a pant that blends opposing styles comes off as gimmicky. So, to see if this style is more than just the sum of its parts, I got my hands on a pair.
The Good: First and foremost, these pants are very comfortable. The silhouette has a roomier top and is tapered from the knee to ankle, so you have space in the thighs and crotch but an overall appearance that’s not baggy. The elastic waistband adds orders of magnitude to the comfort level, giving you a pant that is forgiving where you need it. The nine-ounce fabric has a drape that is similar to chinos you’ve worn before, and it is garment dyed for a gently-loved feel.
The Paz pants are made from organic cotton, which uses 90 percent less water to grow than conventional cotton and supports natural biodiversity. Even the button on these pants is sustainable (it’s made from Oceanworks recycled ocean plastic). While the materials are better for the planet, these pants are just as easy to care for a normal pair of chinos — just machine wash cold and tumble dry low. Another major plus for these pants is the price: similar styles cost almost twice as much.
Who They’re For: This pant is for the guy who wants something more casual than a chino, but more respectable than a sweatpant. If you have a laid-back office, this is a great weekday pant, but if the man is enforcing a dress code, get a pair for the weekend. You can wear them to the beach in the morning and out to dinner in the evening.
Watch Out For: These pants have a mock fly, so don’t buy them expecting a functional fly. This design detail makes these pants appear more like a chino but doesn’t sacrifice the integrity of the elastic waistband or the comfort of a pant-front unadulterated by zippers or buttons. Another thing to look out for: the inside of the waistband has two heavy-duty metal eyelets made from plated brass for the drawstring — though the metal shouldn’t bother most people, the plating composition could bother those with super-sensitive skin or metal allergies. The rest is just personal preference. If you’re a person who uses two back pockets religiously, these aren’t the pants for you. They’ve got a single back pocket on the right side, and the left side is unadorned.
Alternatives: In the genre of pants that feature elastic-waistbands with drawstrings, you have a range of tasteful options. For $10 less, you can pick up a pair of Mollusk’s Jeffrey pants. The silhouette and drape of these are notably more casual and breezy, making them less versatile than the Paz pant. For $87 more, you can pick up a pair ripstop pants from Pilgrim Surf Supply, or for $102 you can get a similar style from Albam. At the $225 + price point, you get into 100 percent linen pants from brands like 120% and Altea. If you’re looking for a linen alternative, Outerknown’s Verano Beach Pant is cut from a hemp-cotton blend and costs just $98.
Review: Outerknown offers a wide array of pants that offer an alternative to denim. This was a conscious decision for designer John Moore. “When we launched Outerknown, Kelly [Slater] said in one of our first interviews that Outerknown wouldn’t do denim because it’s such a dirty business,” he said. In the three years since the brand launched, things have changed a bit. Outerknown is doing denim, in a sustainable collaboration with Levi’s, and the brand has expanded its non-denim offerings to almost 10 different styles. New this year, the Paz pant walks the line between Outerknown’s sweatpants and the brand’s more traditional chinos.
Outerknown specializes in well-made, tasteful and sustainable casual wear, and these pants seem to epitomize that ethos. Cut from nine-ounce “Z” twill organic cotton, they feel like a more traditional chino and have the heft to stand up to a range of activities. Customers can feel good investing in an organic product — it saves a ridiculous amount of freshwater and supports regional biodiversity because of the lack of pesticides used in cultivation. The fabric is garment dyed and has a soft touch; these pants feel and look like an old favorite (without any rips or tears). While the waistband and cut are focused on comfort, these pants have a few practical design features as well. They feature two ample front slash pockets and a back button flap pocket.
The danger many brands face when trying to produce a chino-sweatpant hybrid is the garment ends up looking like medical scrubs. Thanks to the close attention to the fabric finish and the silhouette, Outerknown’s Paz pants avoid this pitfall. Worn with an untucked shirt, they pass as traditional chinos, and the pant’s agreeable waist become your dirty secret. For a more relaxed look, let the drawstrings hang free and embrace the design’s natural nonchalance. Outerknown has nailed the versatile, casual pant with this style and the price point it sits at is far more agreeable than other comparable options.
Verdict: While the drawstring style may not be for everyone, it’s hard to argue with the comfort. The Paz pant combines traditional design elements and features suited for comfort into an ideal everyday pant. It’s the best of both worlds. If you want to add an easygoing element to your wardrobe while still looking good, this is the pant for you. Some people may wince at the near-$100 price tag, but believe me, you’re getting a solid deal. The components are good, the construction is good and the fit and feel are second-to-none.
What Others Are Saying:
• “These are definitely one of my favorite pants. Beyond comfy. I have had people specifically stop and ask me about them/looking for this type of loose/casual-comfort pant that you can wear (without wearing sweatpants all day).” — Xavier Ramirez, Instagram
• “The new design is the latest launch from Outerknown, offering up a classic approach with modern flair, providing something like a woven sweat pant, ideal for a rugged yet comfortable feel.” — Jesse James, stupidDOPE
• “…so cozy!” — John Moore, Instagram
Fabric: 9oz organic cotton “Z” twill
Waist: Elastic with a drawstring
Colors: Army, Shadow, Khaki, Cobalt
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
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