The Cargo Comeback

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Photo: @thefashionguitar

With the ‘90s aesthetic still going strong, designers like Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga and Phillip Lim have released their own takes on a 90s classic, the cargo jean.

The king of polarizing styles, Gvasalia has taken cargos to the extreme. His version — designed for Balenciaga — has multi-pockets and zips at the leg, converting the pants into shorts.

Lim on the other hand, approached the carpenter pants with a delicate, feminine touch. He mixed fabrics and chose a lightweight denim in a cropped JNCO inspired cut.

Designers like Valentino and Givenchy have also had fun with this trend. We are seeing their signature camouflage mixed for Valentino and contrast stitching in a dark wash from Givenchy. While ACNE chose to keep with the classic accordion pockets in a chino cut.

It’s not just the designers who are keeping it ’90s, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and k-pop group BTS are all rocking utility jeans. Now for the real question…are you willing to give them a try?

Best Looks Utility Jeans for Women

3.1 PHILLIP LIM Denim Cargo Pants

Phillip Lim drew inspiration from another trend that was big once upon a time, JNCO jeans. Doing an oversized carpenter can easily have made these feel dated, but their tailored approach keeps them modern. The style is roomy and carries that same attitude while still feeling clean and modern.

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3.1 PHILLIP LIM Denim Cargo Pants

Fabric and Color

This is a style that could’ve easily felt dated by the choice of fabric, but the designer helped keep them feeling modern by choosing a mix of lightweight fabrics in dark tones to keep them clean and feeling fresh.

3.1 PHILLIP LIM Denim Cargo Pants, $395

NILI LOTAN French Military Pants

These NILI LOTAN cargo pants are a new spin on the brand’s signature military pants. With their scrunched hem and slouchy cut, the style gives the vibe of a flight suit

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NILI LOTAN French Military Pants

The interesting choice of a washed denim gives a unique edge to the style. The medium-to-light wash of these jeans helps bring the details to focus with the different tones at the seams.

NILI LOTAN French Military Pants, $450

BALENCIAGA Multi-Pocket Cargos

Never one to take on a trend and making it feel one note is Demna Gvasalia. For his take on the trend at Balenciaga, he has embraced just about every polarizing trend of the ’90s and made them all work together effortlessly.

These jeans are anything but the average pair, even with the average fit. With multiple pockets, converting legs and enough zippers for anyone, it’s a lot for the average person. Though they are fun and unexpected among all the more classically refined takes on utility.

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BALENCIAGA Convertible Cargo Pants

Fabric and Color

Doing a stone wash can make these easily feel dated, but the king of popularizing the polarizing made it feel interesting. This is with the help of all the details though. The fades at the seams and many hems brings in richness to what could’ve easily been a very normal wash.

BALENCIAGA Convertible Cargo Pants, $1790

Best Mens Utility Jeans

ACNE Natural Garco Cargo Pants

ACNE has been on a huge rebranding the past few years, releasing styles that embody the ’90s. One of those styles is the the Natural Garco Cargo Pants.

These carry the straight fit of the decade that is right on trend and give off the “dad feel” that is also still holding strong right now.

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ACNE Natural Garco Cargo Pants

To bring the dad vibes even more alive, ACNE kept the style in a 100% cotton and chose to give these jeans a wash that I would describe as ‘sticking in the wash’ look. It is a medium faded blue that is one tone throughout, giving an average fee while still carrying a vibe that feels different from the vintage inspired washes that are everywhere.

ACNE Natural Garco Cargo Pants, $320

GIVENCHY Zipper Carpenter Pants

GIVENCHY chose to bring their moody dark aesthetic to the carpenter jeans. The fashion house chose to add zippers and velcro fastenings to give them the goth vibes of the underground scene at the time.

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GIVENCHY Zipper Carpenter Pants

Keeping with the minimalism of the inspiration, GIVENCHY chose a contrasting stitching which helped bring the muted black to life.

GIVENCHY Zipper Carpenter Pants, $1050

VALENTINO Camo Shuffle Cargo Pants

Never ones to be afraid of introducing colors — and huge lovers of camouflage — is VALENTINO. A staple print in their collections for many seasons now, I thought they would dabble in this trend.

The label went with the standard straight fit that is everywhere. What adds interest to them is the choice of contrast stitching and piping down the leg. Also a feature of the style, bungee pulls at the knees.

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VALENTINO Camo Shuffle Cargo Pants

Fabric and Color

The choice of mixing colors is also makes these pants standout. They chose to mix different colorways of their signature camouflage to give them the late ’90s pop music vibes.

VALENTINO Camo Shuffle Cargo Pants, $1550

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Jonathan Mam is DenimBlog’s co-editor. He can be reached at