How the Jogger Pant Infiltrated Sneaker Culture

Jogger pants have become a go-to look for people who are into sneakers. But how did they find their way onto people?

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Looking fresh isn't just about sneakers anymore. It's about coordinating the rest of your outfit to complement the heat that's on your feet, but not in a 2005, matching fitted and sneaker combination sort of way (all due respect to the O.G.s, though). 

Enter the jogger pant — a sweatpant-like trouser with elastic cuffs that eliminates the tragedy of having great kicks ruined by awful jeans and has given sneakerheads a new option for coordinating outfits around their prized sneakers. The pants have not only become synonymous with sneaker culture, but it's also found its way into its boutiques—thanks to the Mercer pant, which is a creation of Ronnie Fieg's Kith, and stores such as size? that are large distributors of streetwear brands such as California-based Publish.

But where did joggers come from and how did it get noticed by sneakerheads? 

But where did the jogger pant come from and how did it get noticed by sneakerheads?

"In 2010, I came back from London," said Publish creative brand manager Alex James. "I had these Marc Jacobs cinch bottom pants, and I was like, 'These are going to be the future because everyone’s been trying to roll their pants, get them tailored, and you don't have to do it. It's already done for you.'"

Even though they legally own the word (Publish Brand copyrighted the term "jogger pants" in 2010), James and Publish don't take credit for inventing it. "We didn’t create the jogger pant, but we definitely brought it to the forefront in America, that’s for sure," James said. "People have been wearing them for a while in Europe and Australia."

Europe is where pinrolling, the art of tightly rolling the cuffs of your jeans, gained credence with sneakerheads, according to Simon Lister, marketing manager of UK boutique End Clothing. "In my mind, it came around when sneakers started to become more of a mainstream thing in menswear," he said. "Pinrolling meant the sneakers weren’t hidden away and allowed the wearer to show them off fully."


When one of the most influential people in sneaker culture right now, Ronnie Fieg, dropped his version of the jogger— the Kith Mercer pant—​ the style became a mainstay of the New York scene. Instead of co-opting a style, pinrolling his pants, or looking to Europe for inspiration, Fieg's version of the jogger pant came by experimentation.

"When I first opened the KITH shop in 2011, I had a pair of camo army pants that I wanted to alter because they were big on me. While altering them, I thought it would be cool to have an elastic cuff on the bottom," Fieg said. "Once completed, I got more compliments on the pants than I did my footwear."

Fieg wasn't the only person getting noticed for his cuffed pants. Tyler Blake, a sneakerhead and YouTube personality, consistently had people ask him where he purchased his joggers. So much so, that he decided to shoot a video on the subject.

"I would just be getting asked constantly, 'What kind of pants are those, where can I get those?'" Blake said. "I made a YouTube video called 'Where Do You Buy Your Pants?!' because it was such a common question, and it had like 80,000 views."


Still, even with a growing number of sneaker connoisseurs eschewing traditional cuffs, the fashion industry is skeptical of sneakerheads influencing high fashion. "I don’t see it as possible that the sneaker culture is influencing this design," Noah Johnson, deputy editor at, said. "I think it’s sort of a progression of tapered fit looks and super tapered pants. I think it’s just a reaction from the early-2000s, dudes wearing boot-cut jeans and really awful jeans."

No matter which way you slice it, though, it's the want for slim-fitting pants that's fueling the jogger pant's popularity. At this moment, its reception might be a right place, right time thing, but it's impossible to deny that joggers are purchased by people who want to show off their sneakers.

"Having pants lay over your shoes is the outdated way of doing things," Fieg said.

And bigger brands are taking notice. J.Crew has introduced the "Sideline Pant," its version of the jogger, and used it to market its most recent sneaker collaboration with New Balance. That comes as no surprise to the Publish creative manager, as he sees the trend spreading all over the market. "Every major company from super low-end to super high-end is making joggers," he said. "This is a trend that’s not going anywhere and is going to last for quite some time."


In fact, you can say the jogger pant has hit mainstream heights, with brands from Zanerobe to Public School creating looks. Urban Outfitters even has a section dedicated to cuffed pants.  Although it has its roots in pinrolling, it also takes influence from chavs, a term used for a subset of London youth. " Joggers have always been around, but previously in the UK they’ve had a bit of a stigma attached to them," the END Clothing marketing manager said. "The only time you wore them was to do sports, sit around the house, or you if you were a rough kid kicking about the town center. We called them chavs."

And with the UK's fascination with running sneakers—Reebok, Saucony, ASICS, New Balance, etc.—it's not hard to see why these silhouettes have been paired with joggers by American sneakerheads, too. They're also the style of sneaker which Fieg has made his name working on—making his Mercer pants a fitting choice to pair with his Gel Lyte IIIs and New Balance 1600s.

But even with the increased sightings of joggers at all corners of fashion, not just sneaker culture, they're still not being accepted as the right move for everybody. "I think they're fucking stupid," Johnson said bluntly.

This visceral reaction is what makes the jogger so noticeable. It's not a pair of sweatpants, and it's not a pair of jeans or chinos, either. But the combination of the jogger's tight ankle paired with a loud set of sneakers is changing the way sneakerheads dress and are viewed in connection with their style. Because who doesn't want to be comfortable and noticed at the same time?

Matt Welty is an editorial assistant at Complex and hasn't worn jeans since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter here

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