In addition to dance videos, thrift hauls, Harry Styles-inspired knitting challenges, and lessons on how to save the environment, TikTok is home to users sharing their honest opinions on products. It was in this nook of the popular Gen Z app that I found a pair of faux leather pants that, at the time of publishing, have 493.9k views. “I got the pants that everyone is obsessed with,” said Lauren Wolfe in an unboxing video on TikTok. “Words do not describe these pants. I’ve really never had pants that fit me so well.” More than 600 people left comments on the video asking about size, dupes, and how they feel IRL. The Melina Pants are from Canadian retailer Aritzia’s in-house brand, Wilfred, and are known to sell out with every drop. They’re black and high-rise; feature a zipper fly, straight leg, and a five-pocket design; and are made using polyurethane and nylon from Japan.
Coincidentally, they are also the same pair I wore nearly every day before COVID hit. (I actually wore them the last time I went out pre-pandemic.) I agree with Wolfe: These are best fitting faux leather pants I have ever tried. They also go with everything in my closet. I wore them to work with oversized blazers and to dinners with sweaters and boots. I wore them on Christmas day, which I spent with my entire extended family, and, again, on New Year’s Eve — two occasions that called for very different styling, as you can imagine. They even made an appearance during New York Fashion Week in February. But when the pandemic took hold, ushering me out of my beloved pants and into a more situationally appropriate pair of sweats, I filed them away in the back of my closet, where I expected they’d stay at least until 2021. Then, I joined TikTok.
Like Wolfe and I, TikTokers first took to the Melina Pant because of the way they fit which — given that most faux leather pants are either skin-tight leggings or have an elastic waistband rather than a real, button- or zip-fly structure — is hard to get right. “I love them — I think they fit so well,” said Lottie Smalley on TikTok. “They’re snug and stretchy.” “So I tried them on and they fit amazingly,” said user Fia Mia. Commenters across the Aritzia hashtags on TikTok (in addition to #aritziamelina, the pants feature prominently on #aritziahaul) list off other reasons, including that they stand out stylistically, are soft, and are more than warm enough to wear in winter. “If I could afford these, I’d buy them all,” said Natalia K in a comment on Wolfe’s post. (The pants cost $148.)
Inspired by the TikTok buzz, I pulled my own pair from the back of my closet. Slipping them on, I remembered all the qualities that kept me coming back time and time again: the length isn’t cropped, meaning that they actually reach my ankles, something that most leather pants don’t do given that I’m almost 5’9; the waist tapers in rather than leaving that all-too-common gap in the back of pants; and the lining inside allows them to straddle the line between keeping you warm in the outside winter weather and making you too hot inside with the heat on. (If only Ross Geller had hit up Aritzia — that whole baby powder-plus-leather pants fiasco could’ve been avoided.) To break up the hours of TikTok scrolling I’ve been doing of late, I brought out my self-timer and a few different sartorial add-ons that are also lying in wait for the world to safely re-open. First, for a comfy daytime look, I threw on a blue-and-red sweater with a school-boy-like V-neck collar that I just got from London-based skate and fashion brand Thames. Then, for a nighttime transition, I swapped out the knit for a ribbed, white tank top. I also threw on an oversized, faux leather button-down from Aritzia, which I wore open, and, later, a Ganni shirt with an XXL collar paired with a chunky knit from Oak + Fort.
While I could probably go on forever naming the different things that my favorite cold-weather trousers could go with and praising them, there are a few downfalls to the viral style. According to some reviews on TikTok, they don’t fit larger body types as well. One user named Taylor filmed a duet video on the app alongside Wolfe, which showed her, a size 16 compared to Wolfe, a size 2, trying on the Melina Pant (available in sizes 00 to 16). While they fit both women, Taylor commented: “I can’t really sit down in them lol.” Another user named Kyy commented: “Definitely look good… but I feel like they were made to fit a smaller body type.” Another user, Madison, suggested the H&M version, “From one size 16 to another, they fit way better on me and I can breathe in them.” That being said, as others pointed out, and I (size 4) myself experienced, due to the vegan leather material used, the Melina Pants do stretch out with time. “The pants look amazing on you,” Mercades Brown commented on Taylor’s post. “Give ‘em a few more wears and they’ll fit amazing.”
Currently, the Melina Pants are available in Burgundy, Pecan Brown in limited sizes, and in black, Dark Ivy Green, and Cognac in most sizes. At one point, they came in red à la Britney Spears in the “Oops! I Did It Again” music video, and I regret not purchasing them for a chance at recreating that throwback style moment. As some have pointed out, at $148, they’re not cheap by any means. But in comparison to the three- to four-digit price tags on genuine leather pants and the amount of wear I get out of them, they’re also kind of a steal, if you ask me.
So are they worth the TikTok hype? In my opinion, yes; I would buy them in every color if I could. With the style known to sell out quickly, though, I suggest you give the Melina Pant a try before they disappear… again. If after all that you’re still not convinced, here are six pairs of affordable faux leather pants to shop instead.
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