A Deeper Dive into Flight Trousers

Naveen Raja

When Evan and I started First Meal Co. one of the most exciting things was getting our hands on an initial lot of jeans. Going through each pair made us feel like kids in a candy store. We would geek out looking at all the little things that make a pair special. This is still one of the best parts of this project.

One style that I found to be super unique was the Railcar Japanese Nep Flight Trouser. I wanted to learn more about the history of the pants. The goal was to look for examples so that I could understand the influence of this awesome pair of jeans.

History of the vintage work pant

I started my research thinking about the ironworkers at the turn of the 20th century. Young men dressed in something durable yet comfortable all to do their jobs. It’s wild how they seem so carefree in the face of danger.

As I dove deeper, I started to see certain design elements from those early pants evolve. In the mid-1930s to 1950 in America, we see this style of traditional workwear start showing in suiting and blue-collar clothing. The defining detail that I saw across all the references is the use of the slant pocket. This long sweeping line from the top of the pelvis to the outside midline of the thigh. A more relaxed cut with actually usable pockets.
My hypothesis is that a lot of GI’s came back from the war where some variation of a flight trouser was standard issue. That, or they thought it was cool. Either way, I’m happy that it stuck around.

Flight Trousers Today

By training Evan and I are designers. This background built an appreciation for well-crafted items. For me when I look at a pair of jeans I look at three things; materials, fit, and details. The first thing that attracted me to this pair of jeans was the material. The denim used has almost a snowy appearance known as nep.

This is intentional. During production the craftsperson will expose some fibers past the surface. As time goes on most of these fibers will fall off but the remaining give a unique look in conjunction with fades. At 12oz, the weight of the denim feels reminiscent of the original intention of this style, tough but comfortable.

I love the fit of these. First off, I should say, I’m a bigger dude. Skinny jeans (looking at you NF super guy) have always been so uncomfortable and I always blew out my pairs. For this fit, I appreciate the higher rise, roomier waist, fitted thigh, and tapered down from the knee.

Fit pics

I apologize in advance for my awkwardness in these photos. My wife was willing to help me out so I just jumped on the opportunity. I'm about 6 foot, 210 lbs and I wear a 33 waist and now need a belt to hold these up (or my hands for photos).

I have been wearing this particular pair of trousers for about a year in my main rotation. After a handful of washes, they have some gentle fades and become soft like a jersey material. I would say they let out about 1” all around after starting with a tighter fit. I feel despite the washing they retained a consistent silhouette.


This style is coming back. Now with fewer pleats and more tapper but still paying homage to its humble beginnings. If you’re looking for jeans, give us a holler over at firstmealco.com and now till the end of Nov we are offering free shipping and 20% off using code MYFIRSTMEAL.

Peace, love and fades, Naveen & Evan.

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