The British eventually overwhelmed the Gurkhas through sheer numbers, and the
Nepalese were forced to settle for peace with them at the end of the Anglo-Nepalese war. However, the British were
so awed by the combat prowess of the Gurkhas that they created the highly unusual Treaty of Sugauli, which allows
the British Army to recruit Gurkhas into their military to this day. The modern Gurkha recruitment programme is
known for being one of the world’s most brutal, famously including a 5km uphill run which has to be completed with
25kg of sandbags strapped to the recruit’s head.
The Gurkha trouser was borne out of this alliance as well - rooted in British
military tradition but modified specifically for use by the Nepalese. The pant is defined by its double-pleated
front and high, cummerbund-style waistband with buckle fastenings. As is often the case with clothing derived from
militaria, the specifics can vary. Traditional Gurkha pants feature a very distinct buckling system, with a buckle
emanating from within the waistband on the left hip and an extension above the fly piece forming the buckle’s tongue
for the right hip, although modern interpretations sometimes simplify this design, to their detriment. It’s not
unheard of for Gurkha style trousers to have a double-buckle on each hip either, though woe betide you if you have
to remove them with any semblance of haste.
It would be remiss to discuss the Gurkha trouser without mentioning its brother the
Gurkha short. Essentially the same design but - obviously - cut as a short, it’s as easy-wearing as its longer
counterpart, and the buckle construction makes it a surprisingly unfussy choice for summer dressing; no belt
So why now for the Gurkha? Well there are a number of good reasons, but the main one
is that it’s a bloody good trouser, and one that’s been underappreciated of late. It’s hardy, utilitarian and
exceptionally comfortable but its design references fine tailoring throughout (that distinctive waistband has much
in common with that of the traditional ‘Oxford bag’) and its construction lends a distinctive, romantic silhouette.
It’s also visually striking - the Gurkha doesn’t look like any other design - which makes the ease with which it
complements so many other garments all the more surprising. This is a trouser that one could comfortably wear on the
plane, out on the weekend or dressed as part of a smart evening or cocktail ensemble. It pairs elegantly with a
tailored blazer, and yet would feel just as at home with a shooting jacket, a boatbuilder’s sweater, or even a
It’s the design’s inherent humility - a trait famously shared with the Gurkhas
themselves - that imparts upon it this sense of versatility. The Gurkha pant was designed to be practical - it
simply happened to be damnably stylish along the way, and regardless of how it’s worn it will always retain a touch
of its namesake’s dauntless and adventurous spirit.