Lululemon's ABC Pants Are a Cult Classic for a Reason

lululemon pants
Lululemon's ABC Pants Are a Hit for a ReasonCourtesy of Retailer


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LULULEMON LOVES naming a product. A lot of the time, those monikers—Surge, Fast and Free, License to Train—are pretty obviously playing into the performance aspect of the clothing. But there are also items, like the Fundamental T-Shirt, that derive their names from, well, their fundamental-ness. These are the go-to pieces that form the building blocks of a wardrobe, they tell us. So if you were to see something called "ABC Pants," think, Well, it doesn't get more fundamental than the first three letters of the alphabet, and leave it at that, I wouldn't blame you; the name seems to stick to an established convention. But in this case, "ABC" means something else. Specifically? "Anti-ball crushing." Okay. Fun.

Now, maybe I'm in the minority here, but I have to admit that I'm not generally plagued by crushed balls during my day-to-day. I'll put on a pair of jeans or chinos and spend practically no time at all lamenting the state of my gonads. Just me? I really hope not. But I've still come to truly appreciate the ABC Pants because, in trying to solve a problem I never really had, Lululemon has done something else: created a smart, performance-minded riff on the five-pocket pant that you can comfortably pull on every day. It's no wonder, then, that they've acquired legions of devoted fans. My bet? You're about to join their ranks.

the all important gusset
The all-important gusset.Timothy Mulcare

First, the Inevitable.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but we have to talk about balls for a little while longer. Because while I remain vehement that there is nothing egregiously wrong with the classic construction of a pair of pants—that is, the "four corners" of intersecting seams you'll find at the base of the crotch—the ABC Pant does feature a clever, if not entirely novel, bit of engineering: a gusset. If you really are having trouble creating room for your equipment, this extra panel of fabric at the crotch could be your saving grace. But even if your prior-to-ABC-Pants existence hasn't been defined by squashed nuts, there's another advantage to adding a gusset that you'll appreciate: longevity. By alleviating tension on the fabric and removing seams from a high-abrasion area, that gusset is extending the life of your pants and saving you from the dreaded "crotch blowout" that sends many a pair of jeans to the trash heap.

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hidden zipper equals extra security
Hidden zipper = extra security.Timothy Mulcare

Now, on to the Unexpected.

Balls uncrushed for one reason or another, let's move past the stated selling point of the ABC Pants and onto all the clever little details that make them more than just a gimmick. Consider, for instance, the hidden zipper on the back pocket that makes storing a phone or wallet that much more secure. Or the reflective taping on the outseam that reveals itself only when you flip up the cuff, giving the pants a polished look and upping your visibility in low-light conditions. Or, for that matter, the fabric itself, whether it's Lululemon's stretchy, super-soft Warpstreme material or the more rugged, abrasion-resistant (and still stretchy!) Utilitech. Put all this stuff together and you've got a pair of pants that you can wear for just about anything.

classic five pocket styling means a coin pocket at the right hip, naturally
Classic five-pocket styling means a coin pocket at the right hip, naturally.Timothy Mulcare

And Finally, a Word About Style.

Did you know that some of the earliest pairs of blue jeans featured things like suspender buttons and fabric straps at the back to cinch them more securely on your waist? Don't beat yourself up if not, because since those early days jeans have distilled themselves down to something more streamlined. Five pockets. Belt loops. Usually a zipper fly. These are the design hallmarks of one of the most enduring pant styles in modern history because they simply work, both functionally and aesthetically. And the great thing about the ABC Pant is that, despite its bevy of hidden updates and upgrades, it doesn't futz with the core elements of the five-pocket pant. That might sound like a small thing, but in an era when most athleisure pants feel compelled to break the mold, having an option that feels different but looks entirely familiar is a big deal. And it's reason enough to invest in your own pair—no matter how your balls are feeling.

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Photography by Timothy Mulcare. Prop styling by John Olson for Halley Resources.

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