Once the victim of ridicule, cargo shorts have finally found themselves a position within the men’s fashion sphere. Quite literally a shortened version of cargo pants, which were introduced during World War II to allow soldiers to carry all manner of essential items within their many pockets, cargo shorts are now synonymous with dads everywhere.
We admit, they’re more practical than anything else, and for a sharp look you’re going to want to invest in a pair of chino shorts instead. But if you need to carry many items on your person, there’s no other menswear piece more suited to the purpose, without piling on a heavy duty winter coat – clearly not ideal for the summer months. The very fact cargo shorts have been adopted by a complete contingent of fashion brands, many of which have worldwide appeal is proof enough that they’re an item you should be paying attention to and not avoiding.
But which brands are really championing the cargo shorts? Allow us to bring you the definitive guide of the best cargo shorts available for men to buy right now.
Founded back in 1927, Hugo Boss has since gone on the become one of Germany’s most influential brands for men of a more refined persuasion. Their collections are based around that effortless, tailored look that leans towards the smarter end of casual. Their cargo shorts are no different, with an onus on dressing up for an occasion, rather than dressing down.
River Island is a brand synonymous with the UK’s high street retail. For over 60 years they have been giving the Brits an excuse to stay looking dapper on a tighter budget. But don’t be fooled into thinking that impacts quality, as their catalogue attests to. From black and olive green cargos to active shorts and designs befitting of a round of golf, they’ve got the lot!
Los Angeles brand Everlane produces their collections using only the best materials on the market, whilst ensuring their garments are made to the highest ethical standards. Their attention to detail in and business model is reflected in their outstanding collection, which includes a stellar range of both smart and casual cargo shorts fit for any occasion.
Coming to prominence in one of France’s most glamorous coastal towns, St Tropez, you could be forgiven for thinking Villebrequin was all about boat shoes and chic. But this playful French brand is much more. Their eye-catching, colourful cargo and beach short designs are more akin to those found south of the Med, in Balearics - perfect for those with bags of youthful exuberance.
Deus Ex Machina
Since coming to the fore in 2006, Australian brand Deus ex Machina have pretty much built and culture and lifestyle around their collections. Their customised motorcycles are as impressive and sought after as their clothing lines. Deus ex Machina shorts are and made from some of the best materials around. They have everything from classic khaki cargos for those jaunts about town or more practical cross-over designs that work on the beach as well as the beach bar!.
If a wide range of choice with a smaller price point is your aim, then look no further than ASOS. The e-tailer is a dominant force online and the go-to outlet for many who demand a lot of choice. As well as major brands they have a vast selection of their very own collections, which offer a range of shorts from military green cargos and camo wide cuts to denim and chinos.
It could be said that G-Star is one of Europe’s most recognised denim exports. They love to deal in heavily washed designs ideal for those who like to rock a pair of boots with their denim cargo shorts. They also have a nice selection of workwear crossover designs; that help keep your phone intact when cycling after one too many Amstels!
Levi’s doesn’t need much of an introduction. The San Francisco denim giant has been doing business for well over 100 years worldwide thanks to their long-lasting, no-nonsense designs. But not many of us give the same amount of interest to Levi’s cargo shorts, which is a crying shame. From black and classic blue to red and green, they have a large and colourful selection fit for any wardrobe.
Belstaff started out back in 1907, where during the first-ever Isle Of Man TT they kitted out riders and mechanics in the paddocks. These days they provide quality clothing whether you’re on or off the bike, from leather jackets and corduroys to cargo pants and shorts. The great thing about Belstaff’s rugged cargo shorts, in particular, is that they’re stylish, practical and as tough as old boots.
The fact that Penguin was born from a delayed flight, a few whiskies and a stuffed cuddly toy tells us exactly why the brand remains so relatable to us gents sixty years on. Their polo shirts are as recognisable as Fred Perry and Lacoste and tread perfectly that line between club sports fashion and casualwear. But what would a great polo be without a great pair of shorts? Fear not, Penguin’s collection has everything such as drawstring cargo pants, chinos and denim, whether you like a conservative look or something a little more flamboyant.
If you’re after something with a real sports designer’s edge at a more affordable price, then boohooMAN may just be your go-to. The US online retailer does the lot, whether it’s traditional loungewear or a more, balls-out street style with bags of colour. In terms of cargo shorts, they have every box ticked. There are sweatpants with cargo pockets, fixed waist cargo designs and even skate chinos!
L.L Bean is a stalwart of America’s smart casual sector that has been around for over 100 years. They’re known for sticking to the basics and what they do well for an affordable price. Their smart and simple cargo shorts are well designed and ideal for a fishing trip or a country getaway where you don’t want to come across all flashy.
Abercrombie & Ftich
Abercrombie and Fitch can proudly lay claim to outfitting innovators, explorers and entrepreneurs, such has been their influence over the years. These days they are better known for their classic American designs in the mid-price bracket. From jackets and jeans to those famous polo tees and long cargo shorts, their collections might not stray too far away from the basics, but what they do, they do well.
For a brand that started out specialising in shirts to wear at the office, Gant has grown beyond all recognition from its humble beginnings. These days they take to shake up their wardrobe and create something unique. Whether your choice of footwear is sandals, sneakers, boat shoes or boots, Gants have an impressive range of quality cargo shorts to fit the occasion.
Carhartt is probably one of the first brands you think of when it comes to cargo shorts, in large part thanks to the Detroit brands links to workwear. At a time when nineties trends are back with force, Carhartt is as popular as ever. The great thing is that Carhartt produces proper work standard cargo shorts that are built to last and still manage to look good with half of your wardrobe.
Columbia might sit behind some of the bigger names when it comes to outdoor gear, which is criminal considering how long they have been in the game. They specialise in clothing made for and made by, adventurers and explorers. They also specialise in active cargo shorts that are perfect for travellers and hikers who love to get out and sample nature during weekends.
Founded in 1969 by Donald Fisher and his wife Doris in San Francisco, GAP is the USA’s largest speciality retailer. And what do they specialise in? Every day threads for just about every need you can imagine. If you’re after a classic pair of khaki or camo cargos, made with either rigid or flexible fabrics, GAP is great for quality and price.
Ralph Lauren is one of the most well-known clothing brands on the planet that has sat at the top for nearly fifty years. For a label so closely associated with shirts and polos, it was only natural that they started producing shorts for their client’s summer ensembles. They create everything from white chinos perfect for days on the water to more colourful bathing shorts. They even have double-knitted cargos for those who demand practical comfort.
Old Navy first appeared in 1994 offering well-designed affordable clothing for the masses. They are now a subsidiary of GAP and offer similar price points. They have a nice range of lounge cargo shorts for days around the house or more smart-casual cargos that work well with everyday tees and sweats.
American Eagle is a US e-tailer that specialises in quality, affordable clothing. They deal in everything from activewear and loungewear to jackets and shoes. They also have a killer range of classic cargo shorts that come with that ready-made rugged, worn finish for those who like to stay looking rough and ready.
Wrangler is another US brand that has a long history in producing workwear. Since 1907 they have been dealing in denim made to withstand the rigours of daily use. Wrangler cargo shorts are perfect whether you’re looking to do a spot of work at home or spend the weekend out in the bush. They’re comfortable, practical, and durable.