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Parachute pants: Wikis


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Parachute pants are a style of trousers characterised by the use of ripstop nylon and/or extremely baggy cuts. In the original loose-fitting, extraneously zippered style of the late 70s/early 80s, "parachute" referred to the pants' synthetic nylon material. In the later 80s, "parachute" may have referred to the extreme bagginess of the pant. They are typically worn as menswear and are often brightly colored. Parachute pants became a fad in US culture in the 1980s as part of an increased cultural appropriation of breakdancing.[1]


Functional clothing

Early breakdancers occasionally used heavy nylon to construct jumpsuits or trousers that would be able to endure contact with the break dancing surface ("break pad") while at the same time decreasing friction with the dancing surface, allowing speedy and intricate "downrock" routines without fear of friction burns or wear in clothing. Some, possibly apocryphal, sources attribute the use of genuine parachute nylon having been cut to make such trousers possible. In the early part of the 80s, parachute pants were more tight-fitting and only later became looser. In the later 80s, the term "parachute pants" was used to describe any pants that were somewhat voluminous and narrow at the ankles, sometimes cinched with a tie cord running through the lower hem (unlike bellbottoms or wide-leg baggy jeans) in order to increase mobility for dance moves requiring flexibility. Due to both the use of nylon in the parachutes, and the large baggy appearance of the parachute pants, the style of pants became known as parachute pants. Often, early outfits were of a single color or slightly patchwork in nature as they were sometimes made of found materials.

When manufactured and marketed as fashionable clothing, parachute pants were often constructed with lightweight synthetic fabrics, making this variety of pants more suitable for fashion than breakdancing.

Fashionable clothing

As fashion cut pants, parachute pants were popularized by hip-hop performers. From this point, they were often woven of loose, light fabric, with a low seat containing many folds, and sometimes printed with complex designs, ranging from neon patterns to prints resembling Middle Eastern pattern embroidery, contrasting the earlier monochromatic heavy jumpsuits and trousers. They were also sometimes seen with many zippers and pockets, although many of these pockets were too small to be used as pockets and existed only in order to apply another zipper or other superficial feature to the outfit. Parachute pants were then used primarily in choreographed hip hop dancing, with the light, baggy fabric and folds visually enhancing the flowing rhythm of the dancers' moves while allowing for greater comfort and mobility.

Decline in use

Parachute pants are infrequent in fashion as of 2009 and have received little serious exposure since the late 1980s.[citation needed] By the early 1990s parachute pants were sometimes mocked in popular culture as emblems of the 1980s, much as flares and bellbottoms are associated with the 1960s/1970s.

See also


  1. ^ Mansour, David. "Parachute pants". From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. pp. 353. 

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