From newly-discovered PingMag (The Tokyo-based magazine about “Design and Making Things”), a piece on Japanese construction worker fashion. During my time in Japan, I would see construction and maintenance crews everywhere, all wearng much the same regalia – hard hats, overalls, very wide, baggy trousers and tabi (Japanese two-toed shoes). I was intruiged by the baggy trousers most of all, as I’d have thought they would get in the way. But this article says otherwise:
There are various theories why the lower part under the knee is pumped up like a balloon. The main reason, however, seems to be a simple one: the baggy pants make it easy to move, easy to bend, stretch and stride.
Other explanations can be, that when working on very narrow scaffoldings high up in the air, it is good to have some kind of sensor: the balloon part of your trousers touches obstacles before your legs do, which acts as kind of a warning system without necessarily having to look down. Besides, they can measure the intensity of the wind and the bagginess prevents the fabric from clinging to your leg even when you are sweating. It also works as a cushion when you drop spiky tools onto your body.
Right below the pumped up part, the trousers become narrow again in order to tighten up your calves. Why? Pressing the calves encourages blood circulation and helps you to work longer and to stand for hours without your feet swelling up.
As soomeone who grew up in Cambridge during the whole baggy skate pants craze, I feel weirdly reassured that the fashion survives somewhere.
(Incidentally, I go back to Leeds on the weekend. Not much to say about that at the moment.)