The Perfect Summer Chinos

February 25, 2022

Comfort throughout the summer, and the next, and the next…

Chinos—probably the key structural pillars of the summer leg-wear world—a masterpiece of military design perfectly suited to the thrills and spills of everyday life.

The story goes that chinos trace their origin to US soldiers stationed in the Philippines in the 19th century. Made from Chinese cotton twill, and with the Philippines still under Spanish rule, these trousers became known as ‘Chinos Pantalons’, as in ‘Chinese Pants’. Details of the origin story aside, chinos soon became the go-to slacks for anyone duking it out in tropical climes.

After World War Two they arrived on civvy street, brought home in the duffle-bags of returning troops, and swiftly found a new home in the wood-panelled halls of America’s Ivy League institutions.

From Steve McQueen somewhat improbably zipping over that barbed-wire fence in The Great Escape to JFK larking about on his yacht, the keyword with these things has always been versatility—they’re tough enough for serious summer hijinks, yet smart enough for the cooling drinks afterwards.

Yep, when it comes to proper summer-ready trousers that don’t make you break in sweat, a finely-crafted pair of chinos is still tough to beat.

Comfort is King

When we set out to make our Light Chinos, we made sure to ask you what you wanted from them—and judging by your feedback, comfort is king. You lot are tired of hot, heavy, sweaty trousers that you can barely move in—and rightfully so—in the current sci-fi age we now find ourselves in, why is it still so hard to find comfortable, well-made chinos?

We reckon we’ve solved this problem—here’s how...

Lightweight Fabric / Heavy-Duty Details

Unlike other slacks you have battled through previous summers in, the materials we chose make the Light Chinos, well, light. Which we thought was a pretty good idea, given the name. The Light Chinos are summer-ready, and won’t leave you wilting when the temperature rises above 20°C. A lot of that is to do with the material.

Cotton is to chinos what… er… flour is to cake: it’s pretty important. We made sure we got the best we could find. It needed to be soft and breezy, but still nice and tough. The answer? 260g/m2 certified organic cotton, harvested in India, and woven, dyed and finished in Italy.

A Cut Above

If you want to make comfortable kecks, you need to get the cut just right. We opted for a classic tailored fit that's neither big-and-baggy nor-super-slim. The legs are gently tapered, with a bit of room to move, and they’ve got a decent length to them, meaning you can turn them up, or have them altered however you see fit.

If we were looking for a word to describe them, we’d probably go with ‘sharp’—and they’re equally as at home taking it easy with tennis shoes and a hoodie as they are swanning around town with an Oxford shirt and desert boots.

Think of John Cassavettes circa ‘68 and you’re on the right track.

A bit lighter than the stiff military twills of yore, this stuff is the ideal weight for lazy summer afternoons scoffing Calippos by the shore.

But that isn’t to say we’ve skimped on durability—the fabric is what’s known as 3/1 twill, which basically means that for every one horizontal weft thread, there are three vertical warp threads. 3/1 weaving is the gold standard for workwear and selvedge denim, so using it on our Chinos was a no-brainer.

To push comfort levels to the max, our twill was then laundered for a soft handle—earning itself a solid five-out-of-five in the all-important laboratory rub-test.

And that’s not all—the belt-line has been toughened up with double-top stitching, and we’ve added bartacks (a detail often found on hardy vintage garb) to key stress points like the belt loops and around the front pockets.

To round things off, we brought out the heavy artillery in the shape of a hearty YKK zip on the fly and a sturdy yet subtle organic imitation horn button. It’s safe to say that these aren’t some one-wear-wonder to be forgotten by September, and with a bit of love and care they’ll happily see you through a good few summers.

In The Pocket

You don’t need us to tell you that pockets are pretty useful things—so we’ve pulled out all the stops to make sure ours are spot-on. We went for a subtle feel with classic flap-free welt pockets, nothing complicated needed here.

The pockets bags deserve a mention too. Not only are they made from some particularly soft cotton (for even more comfort points), but they’re secured firmly in place so they don’t pop out whilst you’re reaching for your keys or coins on the beach. No one wants to be looking for their keys in the sand all day. These might sound like minor details, but you’ll know why we put all the effort in when you slip these beauties on.

The Light Chinos were put together by Expotime in Portugal (a place with 65 years in the swanky-legwear-making game), whilst that fine cotton twill comes from TBM in Italy. This lot have been making fabric for over 200 years, and are still right at the cutting edge—using 70% green energy and purifying their wastewater. Pretty clever.

Five classic summer colours

When it came time to pick our colours, we decided to keep things classic. Nothing daft, nothing ‘zany’—just five time-honoured hues that’ll look good today, tomorrow and ten years from now.

Navy —what do we need to say? These will go with everything.

Sand —for the yacht owners out there. Classy.

Camel —the El Classico.

Smokey Blue —sort of blue… sort of grey… very nice either way.

Olive—get that great army surplus look, without the mid-century materials.

But how light are they?

A few months back we committed to giving you the full environmental impact of every item we release. La totale as we say in France.

So this is what goes into, and comes out of each pair of Light Chinos.

14.4 kg of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to travelling 342 km (212.5 miles) by car. Here’s how our partners at Fairly Made come up with that number.

9.1 g of phosphor in the water. Equivalent to growing 151 kg of potatoes.

125 MJ of energy, which is about 42 h electric heating (average flat).

It’s a cool, cool summer

The Light Chinos will be available to preorder for €79 from Tuesday the 1st of March. If you’re after a pair, just let us know what size and colour you’re hankering for in the box below we’ll be sure to let you know when you can bagsy them.

For the sharpshooters, your Light Chinos will make their way to you by mid-May.

For sizing you can check our guide below.

And if it doesn't work out when your Light Chinos arrive, returns and exchanges are easy. The return costs are on us.

Need to know anything else? Ask away via the comments below, or alternatively, you can check our international Instagram page for more info.


The Asphalte Team

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