The history of the chino goes back to mid-19th century India. Harry Burnett Lumsden, a British Army officer stationed in Mardan on the Peshawar border, saw that his troops needed a uniform more suited for the region. He dyed his cotton pajama with a plant extract to produce a lighter-weight outfit that was not only more appropriate to the climate but blended in with the colors of the surrounding terrain. The local Hindi or Urdu word for this dusty color was “khaki” – a term that soon became syonymous with the new uniform.
The camouflage qualities of the khaki garments made them widely popular with both British and other military forces. In 1902 khaki pants were adopted as an official US Army uniform. The Americans called them chinos.
Offical US khaki uniforms from WWII
During World War II, chinos became so popular with American soldiers, that many continued to wear them on their return home. Casual yet smart, the comfortable khaki pants were perfect for both work and leisure. Through the G.I. Bill, which enabled returning soldiers to get an education, chinos soon found their way into the colleges and became an essential part of the increasingly popular Ivy League style. Marty and Elliot Gant, who both returned safely from active duty in the war, were quick to see what was happening and took their ideas straight to the factory. The GANT Chino was born.
Holder Hall, Princeton University