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Engineered Garments Painter Pant


Welcome back to "DEEP DIVE," where we explore the inspiration behind some of our favorite Engineered Garments pieces. This edition focuses on the Painter Pant, a reinterpretation of the staple workwear pant.

The Painter Pant holds a central place in the workwear world for its unique appearance—a curious assortment of loops, rivets, and side pockets—and its storied history. Like much of the genre's enduring fashion, the style, originating from practicality, has undergone numerous changes, with interpretations from nearly every major fashion brand. Here, Engineered Garments designer Daiki Suzuki reimagines the hardy trousers for the brand's Spring/Summer 2024 collection, showcasing some of his favorite details from the pant's history.

Painter's pants, like the workers who wore them, rarely entered the bright spotlight of history dominated by society's upper crust, making consensus regarding their origins challenging.

Some claim that the style was an offshoot of miners' clothing, with the signature pocket intended to store candles to illuminate dark shafts. Others insist that painters in the 1600s took cues from English sailors who returned to shore sporting sailcloth pants. The pant most likely originated from Europe's ship painters, who for hundreds of years created their own paint from oxides and zinc powders, applying the coating as a base layer to protect ships' wooden exteriors from barnacles and rot, explaining both the original sailcloth and the white color.


The material and hue remained, even as the silhouette crossed the Atlantic Ocean and borrowed details from the double-knee denim bib overall—developed in the 1830s before being popularized by Levi Strauss & Co. Around this time, painters formed unions in Europe and the United States, adopting a uniform. Union painters would wear white clothing and caps, often with a bow tie to complete the look.

Modern painter pants arrived in the early 20th century. Along with the transformation from overalls to trousers came the style's signature embellishments—hammer loops, side tool pockets, and rear pocket tabs. As the pants spread to other trades like carpentry, plumbing, and welding, nearly all of America's most significant workwear companies crafted a version, notably Boss of the Road (later manufactured by Lee), Carhartt, and Smith's.

Once reserved for genuine laborers, the style saw an uptick in popularity during the 1970s. Free-spirited rock climbers who free-climbed in Yosemite National Park, constantly looking for sturdy pants, donned the painter pant, taking advantage of its durable fabric and array of functional details. The style spread to mainstream culture, entering the average American's wardrobe.

Growing up in Japan, Engineered Garments' designer Daiki Suzuki was partial to Lee's "Can't Bustem" Logger Pant and admired the colorful versions produced by Smith's. Later in his life, as a buyer for Nepenthes, a trip to New London, CT, led to the discovery of nearly 80 pairs of deadstock Lee painter pants, scooping them up for $10 apiece.

The Engineered Garments Painter Pants channel Daiki's personal relationship with the style. The pants sport sturdy knee reinforcements, hammer loops, side pockets, and rear pocket loops. The criss-cross rear belt loops pay homage to Smith's, and the Engineered Garments label on the back right pocket continues a tradition carried on by Carhartt, Lee, and many others.

Daiki's asymmetric rear pocket layout adds an original touch. The item's punched out proportions create a striking, wide fit.

The Painter Pant is a testament to the rich heritage of workwear, encapsulating a history of hard work and practical design. Through Daiki Suzuki's personal connection and innovative vision, the modern reinterpretation honors the past while adapting to contemporary needs.


The Painter Pant is available in the following fabrics:
• Dark Navy Cotton Ripstop
• Khaki Cotton Ripstop
• Olive Cotton Ripstop
• Red Cotton Ripstop
• Khaki Graffiti Print Flat Twill
• Olive Graffiti Print Ripstop
• Natural Chino Twill
• Olive Cotton Hemp Satin
• Indigo 8oz Cone Denim