If menswear were a video game, leather trousers would be the final boss. Pull them off properly and you'll reinforce your ’fit with a hardcore street edge. But get them wrong, and well, people will be quick to point out that your legs are smothered in literal animal hide and it does not look good. There is no in between, and only the sartorially savvy succeed.
Rappers wearing leather pants is nothing new. Propelled by the likes of Kanye West and 2 Chainz circa 2013, for a while it felt like leather pants were the only bottoms to be seen in. But just as soon as leather joggers, powered by sneaker culture, and jeans, through brands like APC and Acne Studios, began to take over, their popularity suffered a vertiginous decline. People wanted comfort and something more versatile to go with their growing arsenal of kicks. After all, there are only so many times you can step out wearing “Bred”s.
Brief micro-trends such as street goth, motocross, and Matrix-core have seen the popularity of leather pants spike in spurts, but they never at any point felt truly "back." Might that all be about to change, however?
At Paris Fashion Week this month, one of the week's highlights came from 1017 ALYX 9SM's Matthew Williams, who wowed (as he always does) with his luxury spin on tactical apparel. If there was one standout look at the show that got people talking, it was the striped leather trousers worn by Playboi Carti and Dev Hynes. The trousers appeared during the show in different colors, but it was the black iteration seen above and below that really turned heads.
Williams has always had a reputation as something of a master craftsman when it comes to leather jackets, but here he proved his wizardry applies to constructing bottoms, too.
In 2018, track pants dominated thanks to Japanese brands such as Needles and Kapital. And although they'll no doubt be hanging around for a while yet, could it be that fitted leather pants will find a place in the wardrobes of those looking to mix up their looks with something more formal while maintaining a street sensibility?
Williams' pants, with their attention-grabbing white stripes, might be an extreme example, but we also saw more casual, toned-down silhouettes on the runway at Hedi Slimane's debut Celine menswear show. Timothee Chalamet is a fan, and was spotted wearing a pair on the red carpet at the Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday.
Beyond Paris Fashion Week and Chalamet, there's also Luka Sabbat, who has been rocking leather pants with robust coats and heavy-duty boots recently. Rather than the gauche aesthetics of West and Chainz, his style has more in common with the dark aesthetics of the A$AP Rocky-propelled street goth movement, mentioned previously.
Whether leather pants will be another passing fad remains to be seen. Let's remember that they're all but unwearable in summer. But given fashion's penchant for looking backward, who would be surprised if leathers became the catalyst for a street goth mini-revival? Or maybe they'll herald in a new twist on formal dressing altogether.
Williams' chest rigs and Rollercoaster belts have already become some of the hottest items in streetwear, perhaps his leather pants will too.