Image by Suzi Marshall via Stocksy
Every day, people discover new things their significant others do that annoy the hell out of them. This week, The Wall Street Journal published "Nice Cargo Shorts! You're Sleeping on the Sofa," documenting the growing rift among couples caused by cargo shorts.In the article, Dane Hansen from Pleasant Grove, Utah describes how his wife threw out 15 pairs of his cargo shorts. Instead of, say, speaking to his wife about not throwing away the clothes he buys, Hansen resorted to hiding his treasured cargo shorts in nooks and crannies of their shared home.
Despite cargo shorts hoarders like Hansen and cargo shorts gym-goers like New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, Business Insider reports that, for the first time in a decade, cargo shorts sales have fallen. In light of this news, I decided to ask young men how they really feel about the patch-pocketed sartorial statement.First, I turned to America's heartland in search of cargo lovers. "I'm not a fan of the cargo shorts," said Jake, a college student and fraternity brother in Kansas. "Why do you need so many pockets?" Jake admitted that he used to wear cargo shorts, but stopped. "It's just that my mom told me that I didn't look good in them after my junior year of high school."While I found that some men opt out of cargo shorts altogether, others have set rules. Spencer, who also hails from the Midwest, gave me his guidelines. For individuals over the age of 30 who are not looking for new mates, Spencer says, "go ahead." Dads and small children also get a free pass. But as a general rule, Spencer advises young men to avoid them and cautions women, "If a guy is wearing cargo shorts on a non-hiking or camping date, run for the hills."
With the Midwest not turning out to be the cargo-topia I imagined, I looked to the Bay Area to find Josh, who believes cargo shorts "are by far the most practical pair of shorts a man can own." Josh confided that, in the past, he has "fallen victim to not owning any [shorts] as many [people] have been vocal in making sure [he doesn't] make an appearance in them."
Unsure if cargo shorts are a uniquely American phenomenon, I decided to reach out to men across the pond. "I need to look up what these things are," said Ned, a young man working in London's tech industry. After a quick search, Ned concluded that cargo shorts "make people seem eager," and, he added, "American." Upon further inspection, Ned went on full blast. "They're like what you would wear if you had been in college two years and not yet managed to develop a personality."Angelo, a college student living in Milon, was previously similar with cargo shorts and instantly described them as "convenient as fuck." However, he added an important caveat: "They're fugly."Not finding any cargo-lovers in Europe, I turned back to the Americas. Matt, a resident of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was pragmatic. "Any man should be able to wear what he finds fashionable or comfortable, just like any woman should be able to," he said. However, Matt clarified that he does not think you need "to have enough pockets to carry a full 30-rack of beer in your pockets. But all the more power to those who want to."Aesthetically, Matt of Ontario, Canada, isn't keen on cargo shorts. "I think cargo shorts are really the opposite of what I look for in a pair of shorts. They end just below the knee which looks terrible and boxy."Finally, I decided to circle back to the Eastern seaboard. "I think they are the most abhorrent item of clothing a man could wear," said Ali, a student at Harvard, currently living in Boston. When it comes to the practicality of the shorts, Ali is unconvinced. "Any argument for needing the pocket space is asinine—all mens' shorts have pretty expansive pocket space."
At long last, I found a die-hard cargo shorts enthusiast in Connecticut. "Yeah, I like cargo shorts," said Ashish, who became a cargo-convert after wearing them to a concert once. "I put everyone's wallets and phones in my pockets and closed the pockets to avoid pickpockets."Josh, who works in New York's fashion industry, shared that he's seen the style to be polarizing. "Some women comment on how they make you look like a mechanic and some other women find them sexy. I think that it's because of the association with a worker or builder. The shorts represent this idea of a strong husky man and some men can't relate to that."It should be noted that mid-way through this investigation, Broadly's editorial assistant, Leila, messaged me. "Ugh dude, I'm wearing cargo pants."I, too, own multiple pairs of cargo pants. If men are straying away from style, perhaps it's up to women to find room in our hearts—and lack thereof in our pockets—and give cargo shorts a second chance.