Parachute pants are a style of trousers characterized by the use of nylon, especially ripstop nylon. In the original tight-fitting extraneously zippered style of the early 1980s, "parachute" referred to the pants' nylon material. They were typically worn as menswear. Parachute pants became a fad in US culture in the 1980s as part of the increased popularity of breakdancing. A clothing company, Bugle Boy manufactured the pants in the early 1980s. They were not the first company to manufacture parachute pants. The company Panno D'or claims that they invented them in the early 1980s, though this may not be true. However, it is true that Bugle Boy was the company that made them, seemingly overnite, immensely popular. Teenage boys, regardless of whether or not they could breakdance, were the main buyers of parachute pants. They were around $25-$30 a pair. During the height of their popularity, 1984-1985, boys wearing parachute pants became ubiquitous. Bugle Boy did make them for girls/women, but they were mainly popular with males. They went out of fashion almost as quickly as they arrived, with the fad lasting about two years. Parachute pants played a pivotal role in the 1980s in fashion.
Early breakdancers occasionally used heavy nylon to construct jumpsuits or trousers that would be able to endure contact with the break dancing surface while at the same time decreasing friction, allowing speedy and intricate "downrock" routines without fear of friction burns or wear in clothing. Some, possibly apocryphal, sources[who?] attribute the use of genuine parachute nylon having been cut to make such trousers possible. In the early part of the 1980s, parachute pants were tight fitting. Due to the use of nylon in parachutes, the style of pants became known as parachute pants. Often, early outfits were of a single color or slightly patchwork in nature as they were sometimes made of found materials.
When manufactured and marketed as fashionable clothing, parachute pants were often constructed with lightweight synthetic fabrics, making this variety of pants more suitable for fashion than breakdancing.
- Mansour, David. "Parachute pants". From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. p. 353.