Key Moments In The Contentious History Of Cargo Shorts

When Zac Galifianakis hosted Saturday Night Live back in 2011, he did an impression during his monologue called “Guy from Queens who’s obsessed with cargo shorts.” The whole bit was one line (not counting the setup), in which Galifianakis said, in a thick Queens accent, “What are those, cargo shorts?” Only Galifianakis could properly sell a joke like that, but it hinted at where cargo shorts were headed in the eyes of our cultural zeitgeist.

Today, cargo shorts are so widely loathed that they serve as their own punchline — yet they can still be found everywhere, from clothing store racks to big-box retailers to online shopping sites. They accounted for more than $700 million in sales back in ye’ olde days of 2016, and that’s after their first dip in sales in more than a decade. Not bad for some shorts that cost between $20-$30 a pair.


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