New York-based clothing designer Todd Snyder has a famously sharp knowledge of what American men want to wear. Over a decade ago, at J. Crew, he correctly predicted that they were ready for a slimmer, shorter business suit. Then, with the leadership of his eponymous brand, Snyder found an audience ready for a softer, more Italian tailoring, as well as Champion sweatshirts and New sneakers. Limited edition Balance — clothing that reflects the omnivorous tastes of a growing number of young people. Men looking for a home somewhere between haute couture and streetwear. So it’s no surprise that Snyder’s most recent collection, dubbed “The New American,” is filled with outfits that everyone — you, the guy who just skated past you, the rapper your favorite and your uncle, who is doing carpentry — is wearing right now: knee-length pants.
For many twenties in particular, knee-length pants, specifically the pair made by Carhartt, the Detroit-based workwear giant, are the 501s. “They’re my thing. everyday wear,” says Double designer Hayato Arai at Carhartt’s Front Work Pant, which started selling signature styles to farmers in the ’30s. Arai says the weight of Carhartt’s durable duck canvas and Coolness, fit with slim fit is the key to creating the overall appeal of the pants. “They’re not too formal, but they still have an elegant vibe,” he says.
Of course, there are plenty of pieces of clothing that have reached a point of cultural saturation in the recent history of menswear. Remember when every brand made a cool fleece? To appreciate the unique cross-cultural power of the duel knee, one just has to follow the memes. Blue-collar TikTok as well as fashion Instagram have turned two-knee pants into a standout item for Tan My Nhan herself. On fashion adjacent shitpost accounts like Nolita Dirtbag, that guy is called “two-knee warrior”. You may have seen him line up for pizza at Scarr’s, or better yet, posted outside Aimé Leon Dore, Carhartt knee-to-toe and wearing Nike Dunks shoes. (He could be a fuccboi, or he could have just read Sean Thor Conroe novel of the same name.) Meanwhile, farmers on TikTok make videos that poke fun at guys who want to wear Carhartt clothes until it’s time to do “Carhartt shit”. In response, those people create videos on TikTok, where #doubleknee’s video has more than a million views, mocking their own obsession. “Am I…better than everyone else?” mouth a two-knee warrior when he put on his first vintage Carhartt carpenter pants.
Carhartt’s version is only shy of $50. Perhaps because of the low barrier to entry, the two-knee wave is a rare fashion phenomenon both from the top down and from the bottom up. A child trying to figure out the most things au courant Pants could have a pair because he saw Travis Scott or Daniel Day-Lewis wearing them. (When Day-Lewis wear a pair of two-knee Carhartt in 2018, this moment went viral instantly among a certain section of the internet’s clothing geeks.) But he’s likely to get a pair because of someone he’s following on TikTok made a video, of which there are dozens upon dozens, showing off their classic lines.