With its dual strap waistband, barrel cut legs, high inseam, and row upon row of pleats, the Gurkha short is certainly not for the faint of heart, but we’re sure the original Gurkha wouldn’t have it any other way. This overloaded short can be traced back to the Gurkha, a legendary Nepalese military regiment that consisted of that nation’s most fearless soldiers. The Gurkha were so revered for their bravery that even after suffering a loss to the British during the Anglo–Nepalese War in the early eighteen-hundreds, the kingdom enlisted them to fight for the English Empire.
Their legendary prowess at combat was not the only thing the Gurkha brought along with them when they joined forces with their former adversaries, for they also contributed, well their name. Overtime these shorts, which like almost all colonial garb featured a tan color and loose cut that could easily combat the often oppressive heat, were given the Gurkha name as they were so popular within the region.
It was decades later that America’s classic outdoor outfitters “discovered” the Gurkha short and brought it to the civilian masses causing somewhat of a craze throughout the seventies and eighties. With its heavy detailing and unique fit, the Gurkha short presents an alternative to the all too common Bermuda short, without plunging too far off the deep end. That is, if you can actually find yourself a pair these days. Thanks to the unfortunate demise of “the original” Banana Republic, which was once the main purveyor of these pleated shorts, your best bet for Gurkha’s is through vintage resellers or military surplus shops. They’re not the easiest item to pin down, but if history has taught us anything about the real Gurkha’s, easy was not in their vocabulary.