A style of military trouser, possibly of Israeli vintage, that achieved wide popularity in the city of Lancaster and surrounding areas of southeastern Pennsylvania for several years in the late 1980s, particularly among followers of punk rock, New Wave, and other musical, social, and political fringe movements. Whether the trend extended to other regions of the country is currently unknown. The pants, familiarly known as "chems," are characterized by a drawstring waist, a lack of pockets, and knitted elastic cuffs, and constructed of a light military duck fabric (of questionable utility, one suspects, in actually protecting the wearer from weaponized chemicals). The only known purveyor of the pants was the underground-fashionable military surplus store and scene hub DMZ, located on N. Queen St. in Lancaster, which closed its doors in the mid-1990s. As with many of DMZ's "peacetime accessories," wearing chemical warfare pants constituted for some a subtle ironic protest against the military-industrial complex in the waning days of the Cold War. It should also be noted that they simply looked cool and were damned comfortable. All sources suggest that chemical warfare pants of this particular style are unattainable and possibly extinct.
"Dude, Public Affection is playing the Chameleon tonight and my chemical warfare pants are dirty. You got an extra pair?"
by West Branch October 28, 2011