Before signing off as American Idol judge, JLo performed at the show's recent finale dressed in glittery drop-crotch pants. Not to be outdone, Justin Bieber sported red leather penguin pants at the Much Music Video Awards last month. You can call them Zouave pants if you prefer but would that really make this garment more appealing?

MC Hammer pulled off a pair of drop-crotch pants with élan on the cover of the September 1990 issue of Rolling Stones magazine, but for him, it was more than just a “look” — Hammer’s high-energy dance routines required the sort of give these trousers allowed and his unique persona complemented the garment. Besides, those were the ’90s, an era defined by ridiculously high-waisted jeans, the “Rachel” hairstyle and preppy music a la the Spice Girls. It’s no secret that fashion comes to a full circle every few decades. Still, will we readily adopt this bizarre trend?

Fashion designer, Priyadarshini Rao doesn’t seem to think so, though she does admit to designing a range of such penguin pants for a previous collection, “to lend flavour to the collection,” even as she says she’s unlikely to continue the style. “Drop-crotch pants have a dramatic cut, so one needs a certain amount of confidence to carry these off,” Rao says, admitting, “I don’t imagine they’ll catch on as a mainstream piece of apparel, nor are they likely to turn into classics.”

Still, we noticed, choreographer Punit Pathak and his Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa partner Shibani Dandekar did carry off the look with aplomb in a recently aired episode of the dance show. And, designer Debarun Mukherjee even told us he bought a pair recently. “I injured my leg and bought a pair of these as they’re really comfortable,” he said, confident that we’ll see more of these in Indian films. “A lot of our film stars have the attitude to pull it off.

Ranbir Kapoor, for instance, would carry them off really well,” he thinks. Even in the West, recent developments would suggest the trend is likely to sustain. In an April episode of American reality show Fashion Star, that crowns fashion-designing talent, former fourth grade schoolteacher, Kara Laricks, faced flak from co-contestant Ross Bennett for designing a pair of drop-crotch pants. “I don’t know how you could think that’s sexy,” said Ross, “I just don’t see her style of clothing in America anywhere.” Yet, the very next month Kara was proclaimed the show’s very first winner and awarded a cool $6 million. The designs she created for the show will also now be made available at H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s, so drop-crotch pants clearly aren’t going anywhere yet.

Actor Sakshi Pradhan swears by them. “My favourite drop-crotch pants are a polka-dotted pair I picked up at the Portobello flea market in London,” shares the actor, who admits she owns more than a few variants of the pants.

Insisting that it’s not a trend that’s likely to disappear in a flash, Pradhan says different variants of harem pants have been around for years now. “It’s an evolving trend,” she says, “that has sustained because it’s so comfortable.” Pradhan also appreciates the garment’s versatility. “You can dress it up with accessories for a formal evening or dress it down for a more bohemian look. The style even looks great in denim.”

Though her company does offer some varieties of drop-crotch pants, Victoria Louise Sharma, editor-in-chief, www.rock.in, an online store that offers international fashion labels in India, candidly tells us, “The runways last year and more so this Fall have showcased a number of varieties of the drop-crotch for both men and women, ranging from drastically low to mildly baggy. However the recently introduced skinny-jean drop-crotch is best reserved for super adventurous fashion buffs. It’s completely unflattering.”

Charmed by the trend, fashion fusion brand Global Desi’s CEO, Sangita Rohira, however predicts these pants that designer Debarun Mukherjee refers to as, “a cross between harem pants and dhotis” will be around for a while.

Rohira says, “This is one trend that infuses fashion with comfort so one can look their best and feel relaxed at the same time.” On the other hand, the garment has drawn sharp criticism from more orthodox fashion adherents.

Some call it a man-repellent (even though enough women seem equally disgusted by the style), while others have claimed it’s a ghastly fashion mistake. In England, actor Jude Law and singer-song writer Robbie Williams, who was recently voted the hottest man in the world (in a poll of 60,000 women), have both been criticised for promoting the “loaded diaper trend.”

On the other hand, companies, like Italian design studio, Acquacalda have extended the design to incorporate utility. Currently in production and slated to be marketed by French company Contessa SAS at an estimated 80 euros (approximately Rs 5,460) per pair (available in three different colours and across sizes), their PicNic pant design (which has a crotch-piece that doubles as a counter when it’s not being used to boost flexibility), the team tells us, “was developed because of our observation of evolving lifestyles and correspondingly evolving needs.”

Pathak tells us why he chose to wear them for his performance on a dance reality show, “These pants were the perfect choice since our performance that day was about lounging around in the casual look. They are one of the most comfortable outfits to dance in and my favourites.” His partner, Shibani Dandekar, who also sported a pair of drop-crotch pants on the same episode, agrees. “Drop-crotch pants have become a youth signature because they are extremely stylish. These pants create a perfect balance between simplicity and fashion. They are also quite comfortable while dancing, so I prefer them to anything else.”

So, what’s the verdict? Is the loaded diaper look here to stay? If the number of Hollywood celebrities sporting the trend over the last year is an indication, the answer’s a resounding ‘yes’! And designers from around the world certainly seem to be enjoying the trend. Swedish high-end fashion label Hope’s woollen drop-crotch trousers for women currently retail at New York’s La Garçonne, Dior Homme’s Fall 2012 collection includes sharply cut drop-crotch trousers, German designer Michael Michalsky’s Spring 2013 collection includes baggy, drop-crotch trousers for men, veteran designer Vivienne Westwood’s Spring 2013 men’s collection boasts high-waisted drop-crotch pants, Japan’s premium denim brand Evisu’s 2013 collection includes a wide selection of jeans with the drop-crotch, Celine’s Resort 2013 collection has lightweight drop-crotch trousers for women, and Givenchy’s Resort 2013 collection (for women) also offers these in vivid prints and patterns.

Couturier Narendra Kumar wouldn’t have it any other way. When we caught up with him on the day before the launch of his line of workwear for women, he was proud to tell us that the line he’s launching also includes some drop-crotch trousers. “The trend is a reflection of the growing confidence of women; it reflects a shift of emphasis from the body to style,” says Kumar, adding that the cut is not just stylish, “It works to emphasise the curves on the lower body.” Kumar even assures us that he has no qualms about sporting the style himself, and in fact, frequently does.

“We’ve even showcased them in our previous collections,” he points out, clarifying however that the cut doesn’t necessitate an exaggerated drop below the fork line, but, “it is a sort of revival of the anti-fit jeans that were popular years ago.” So perhaps, Bobbie Thomas, style editor for NBC’s Today Show has the right idea. “Fashion is always looking for ways to transform and shift shape,” she told interviewers in defence of the trend in January this year. “At least these low-riders start above the butt, unlike the popular men’s style. While this may be offensive to some, so were the rib-waisted high-rise denim styles circa Three’s Company.”
‘Wow!’

“The trend is a reflection of the growing confidence in women; it reflects a shift of emphasis from the body to style. It’s a sort of revival of the anti-fit jeans that were popular years ago,” feels designer Narendra Kumar. He recently introduced drop-crotch pants in his collection (see picture) and also wears the pants himself.

Sangita Rohira, CEO, Global Desi, meanwhile, feels that, “This is one trend that infuses fashion with comfort so one can look their best and feel relaxed at the same time.”

‘Meh!’

“I don’t imagine they’ll catch on as a mainstream piece of apparel, nor are they likely to turn into classics,” says designer. Priyadarshini Rao, even though she designed a few pairs in cotton, available for Rs 2,199 for an earlier collection (see picture). “They have a dramatic cut, so one needs a certain amount of confidence to carry them off,” she feels.

Victoria Louise Sharma, editor-in-chief, www.rock.in, an online store that offers international fashion labels in India, feels, “The recently introduced skinny-jean drop-crotch is best reserved for super adventurous fashion buffs.

It’s completely unflattering.”

In all shapes and sizes

Pure cotton wide-leg trousers with ankle gathers in pink is available from www.rock.in for Rs 1,349
Picnic pants by Italian design studio, Acquacalda are currently in production and slated to be marketed by French company Contessa SAS for approximately Rs 5,460 per pair.

Courtesy: Mid-day.com