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Parachute Pants

Modern parachute pantsParachute pants have some similar characteristics to hammer pants, but they are not at all the same thing. Commonly mistaken for parachute pants, hammer pants were a branch off from harem pants which are often used in hip-hop dancing. These kinds of pants which began in the Arabian Peninsula are baggy pants with a sagging rise. The primary quality which distinguishes the unique parachute pants is their material—which is nylon, most particularly, ripstop nylon, which hammer pants are not made from.

To any 80’s kid the word “parachute” is likely to bring to mind not the device used while jumping from a plane, or any other potential meaning, but parachute pants.

These pants were tight and shiny, with a low crotch and pockets and zippers covering the legs. Initially this pants were tight from the waste line to the ankle, but as time went on they loosened up everywhere except for the ankle. Bungle Boy manufactured the pants, and was reported as having invented them as well, but there is some degree of question surrounding this fact. Whether or not they were the true inventors in the early 80’s they are still credited with having transformed the fashion industry by popularizing parachute pants among the youth.

harem pants

History of Parachute Pants

Initially these pants were called “parachute pants” because they are made out of the very same material as parachutes—nylon. Over time they began to become more loose in quality and soon they were associated as being parachute pants because of the way the fabric ballooned below the waste and around the legs. They became a fad in the 1980’s and sprung up alongside the increasingly popular new form of dance—breakdancing. Breakdancing was revolutionizing the 80’s with its virtually inhuman, gravity-defying new moves that had never existed before, and along with the rise of this unique new dance style, these unique new pants followed suit. The pants were originally made for this type of dancing, as the dancers needed a material that could withstand the hardships of breakdancing. The nylon allowed the dancers to slide and spin easily with as little friction as possible. Using these trousers allowed breakdancers to perform fast and intricate downrock moves without damaging their clothing. These nylon tracksuits became the fashion of the skilled breakdancer and anyone who admired or appreciated the new trend.

Everything changed in the 80s

The explosion of the 80’s brought with it a completely new and booming new culture, featuring new music, dancing, hair, and clothes styles. It bled through the television and the radio and on every street corner where someone passed by in parachute pants for men or began spinning breakdancing moves in the middle of a ring of people. New movies were sure to incorporate breakdancing and parachute pants. Everywhere this style was crackling, and it was impossible not to recognize the overwhelming fact that it was the 80’s, and the 80’s had bred a new kind of style that would trademark them for all of history.

Parachute pants on starsAs was a common trend in the 80’s, many styles and clothes were unisex—and that included parachute pants. It was just as common to see a girl strutting off in parachute pants for women as it was to see a boy doing the same. Some say the trousers was still more popular among young boys, but many who were 80’s kids say that it was just as trendy for girls. Either way these pants gave young people in the 80’s of both genders an alternative to preppy attire which was also making headway in the 80’s scene, allowing them to make a more bold statement. Now, they are hitting the fashion industry hard once again—for boys and girls—with a completely new range of colors and styles suitable for the new millennium.

Parachute Trousers

As mentioned previously, harem pants are separate from parachute pants because of the material that used in making the trousers. They are a sort of variation as they have a very similar look and style. Harem pants have a very long history compared to parachute pants, having been born in Western culture for the very first time in 1911 through Paul Poiret a French designer who was almost a century ahead of his time. These pants also took off in the 1980’s alongside parachute pants, their lightweight fabric setting them apart and distinguishing them because of their billowing effect.

Parachute pants and their competitors have never really died out. In the 1990’s MC Hammer who was a popular rapper trademarked this style of pants, and thus the term “hammer pants” was born. Even in the 1990’s these pants have lived on in some form or another, albeit MC Hammer was the most noteworthy cause during the 90’s era. Hammer pants have the characteristic bagginess which parachute pants have adopted, but they may not be made out of nylon thus exempting them from being termed as true parachute pants.

woman with baggy pants

In the last few years parachute pants have made something of a comeback. They have been seen on the runways in the spring and summer of 2009, featured by fashion designers. These new designs of parachute pants have some hallmark alterations, such as no zippers or pockets like the original ones featured. They have been redesigned with various colors, prints, and lengths. They also carry different cuts—some of them are loose all the way down the ankles whereas others are only loose down to the calves, and from there tighten. Harem pants are also rising up in all of their glory, coming out with various new colors and designs of their own and even jersey and silk fabrics. Some of it also depends on who you are, as everyone has a different taste in fashion and different considerations as to what should be trendy or what shouldn’t. Parachute pants certainly aren’t dead, and you will see people from time to time going about in these 80’s era pants, oftentimes revamped into the newest cultural styles. According to some people they belong in the 80’s and nowhere else, but others proclaim with enthusiasm that parachute pants are on their way back to once again become a trademark of the fashion industry.


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