As Workforces Dress Down, Dockers Is Here to Prevent Business Casualties

Jeff Kirschner is much too busy to look like Don Draper. “All day long I’m making decisions,” says the CEO of Litterati, a popular app that gamifies trash collection. (Think Pokémon Go for the environment.) “So staring at a closet full of 20 pairs of pants in the morning? That’s not a good use of my time. I’d rather have a couple pairs that just work.”

Kirschner’s a face of Dockers’ Spring/Summer 2019 campaign. That may seem an odd choice, but here at the #DockersChallengers launch event in Lisbon, in a plant-filled co-working space, the message is clear: for the WeWork-dwelling self-starters of this era, t-shirts and khakis are the new norm. “Today’s generation needs clothes that are versatile and functional, yet comfortable,” a Dockers spokesperson tells us. “They have more important things to think about while they change the world — and they don’t need a suit to change the world.”

Okay, you say, but it’s not like Dockers is the first brand to lean into the casualization of workwear. Only, it kind of is. Though the “casual Friday” concept started in Hewlett-Packard’s offices in the ’50s, it truly caught on in the early ’90s as companies looked to boost morale amid a recession. Levi Strauss & Co. capitalized early, mailing “A Guide to Casual Businesswear” to 25,000 HR departments across America. The brochure showcased “business casual” looks, many of which included Dockers — a newly acquired brand Levi’s wanted to expand beyond the golf course. The look took off.

Nowadays, amid the mass Silicon Valley-fication of dress codes, the casualwear OGs see an opportunity, but also a challenge: how do they get millennials to want pants their dads wore to the office? The answer may lie in a Matrix-esque proposition: there is no office. “[These days] we’re working from home, on a plane, in a coworking space — and we naturally want to be more comfortable,” says Lauren Johnson, Dockers’ senior director of global marketing. The brand’s Smart Series line, she says, “is made for guys who need to be always ready, always on. The entrepreneurs, the hustlers, the go-getters.”

The pants in the collection, therefore, are appropriately burnout-proof. The All Seasons Tech khaki adjusts to your body’s temperature, while the Supreme Flex option feels like wearing sweats. They also look good, featuring slim, tapered, anti-dad fits that can be dressed up or down as your 18-hour day requires.

“For me, there’s no such a thing as a work-life balance,” says Kirschner. “It’s less of a separation. It’s just my life.” May as well dress accordingly.

The Perfect Plane Pant

Duraflex Lite, the latest innovation from Dockers’ Smart Series, is made from a lightweight fabric technology that’s highly breathable yet deceptively long-lasting, thanks to its strong cotton blend.