Since their invention by British soldiers in India, who tried to conceal dust by dying their trousers with tea, khaki pants have been a menswear staple marked by overabundance. Department store racks are lousy with them, and new brands appear and die out yearly. The khaki market is a hard one to win a share of, and an even harder one in which to stand out.
Gregg Donnelly thinks he can do both. “There isn’t a go-to player in the khaki market,” says Donnelly, who founded Jack Donnelly Khakis in 2008. “It’s near impossible to consistently find a quality pair. There are so many companies making khakis right now, but I have yet to find a pair that is truly worth my money.”
It’s true that most khakis aren’t made very well. They sag in the seat, the fit and finish are poor, and they fray and fade poorly. Most are made overseas. The few American-made, high-quality brands are prohibitively expensive. It’s ironic for a product synonymous with traditional American style.
Donnelly thinks the solution is attention to detail, and he’s arranged his business accordingly. “Because our headquarters are less than a few hours from where our khakis are actually made,” he says, “we are afforded the ability to keep a close eye on the entire khaki-making process, and to make sure they’re manufactured to our exact specifications.”
Those specifications include a roomy seat and thigh and a waistband designed not to creep up the hips during wear. Jack Donnelly Khakis’ introductory Dalton pants are available for sale exclusively online, in khaki and stone, with pleats or without. Dalton shorts are available in the same color and pleat options. The cost — $88 for pants, $68 for shorts — is steeper than most department-store khakis, but shipping to anywhere in the US is free. Returns, for any reason, are free as well.
Each pair comes unfinished. Having them hemmed is one step more than would be required of store-bought pants, but, given their quality and Gregg Donnelly’s enthusiasm, a day at the tailor’s might prove a small investment in a pair of khakis that’s actually worth your money. — ANDREW S. EASTMAN
Andrew S. Eastman is a 2007 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he was a member of the rugby team and wrote for The Dartmouth Review. After a short stint at a Boston public relations agency, he began pursuing a law degree at the Saint Louis University School of Law.