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The ZUAVA Pants

“Zwawa” was the name of a tribe living in northern Africa (more or less the present day Algeria) where people were used to dressing in large and short trousers, laced just below the knees. The zuava pants were adopted by French colonial soldiers in mid 19th century and they traveled to Europe, where zuava pants were utilized by civilian fashion victim too.

With the zuava pants, Italo Balbo (one of the most famous Italian fascist other than creator of modern day aeronautics) sparked a series of events. The zuava pants became the uniform of his reactionary squads, causing their disappearing after the fall of fascism during the second World War. Since then the zuava pants were tagged as “fascist and reactionary”.

Does the cloth itself have a political conscience? Anyway, with a great respect for the supposed political ethics, most of designers in Europe and US during last fifty years paid a lot of attention, avoiding to introduce the zuava pants through their collection. But the return of “panta rei” (everything passes) and knickerbockers is inevitable.

The first time I saw zuava pants on the runway was during the Seoul Fashion Week, thanks to the very creative designer Song Zio. I met him, I talked to him, I congratulate but at the same time I added a small complain (joke): it was me – not him – the first to adopt the zuava pants. Now a gamble: guess how many zuava pants we will see in few times around the world!

Gabriele Gattozi

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