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What are Thai Fisherman Pants?

By Celeste Heiter
Updated May 21, 2024
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Thai fisherman pants are a style of traditional garment worn for centuries by fishermen in Thailand and by the Shan Baun-mi people, indigenous to the Inlay Lake region of Myanmar. These pants are unisex, one-size-fits-all garments and are typically made of lightweight cotton. The pants consist of two large cylindrical tubes of fabric for the legs that are attached to a wide band for the waist and lower torso. The pants usually come with a long, narrow tie-belt, which is often sewn to the waistband at the center back.

Thai fisherman pants are very large at the waist and hips, and wearing them requires a special wrapping and tying technique. Once the wearer steps into the pants, they pull them up over the body so that the legs are the desired length. Next, the waistband is wrapped flat across the abdomen from one side to form an angled pleat across the front and down the length of the leg. Then, the wrapping and pleating process is repeated for the other side.

If the pants come with a belt, it is wrapped around the waist, over the waistband, and then tied in a bow or a knot at the front. The excess fabric of the upper waistband is folded down over the belt. If the pants do not come with a belt, the waistband is simply rolled down snugly around the waist.

Since their discovery by visitors to Thailand and Myanmar, Thai fisherman pants have become a fashion trend all over the world. They are now popular as casual wear, pajamas, and beach attire. These pants are also worn by backpackers, who are credited with introducing them to the rest of the world.

The loose-fitting design and lightweight fabric of Thai fisherman pants are seen as ideal for ease of movement during exercise. They are especially favored for the practice of yoga and for some martial arts. They may be worn for meditation and are popular among massage therapists and spa attendants. They are also practical for maternity wear, as their universal sizing accommodates a woman’s expanding abdomen throughout pregnancy.

Once available only in Thailand, Thai fisherman pants are now sold in boutiques and department stores around the world. They are also readily available through Internet retailers, especially since there is little risk of fitting problems. In addition to traditional cotton, Thai fisherman pants are available in other fabrics such as rayon, linen, and silk.

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Discussion Comments
By aviva — On Aug 22, 2011

@ellafarris - I have no clue where to buy a pattern for Thai fisherman pants, but maybe you could buy a pair and then trace a pattern from them yourself.

I get all of my yoga clothing at a Thailand boutique located here in California. I'm not sure if they have a website or not but they do carry authentic looking ones made out of one hundred percent muslin cotton.

The pair that I own will fit a person with up to a forty three inch waist and are long enough for someone who is five foot eleven. You could always add an inch or two for the taller students.

By whitesand — On Aug 21, 2011

@ellaferris - I would suggest going to the Internet and searching for a pattern there. Sewing and craft sites could probably assist you with what you need.

I've seen patterns go for dirt cheap on the Internet before and sometimes they even share them for free.

By ellafarris — On Aug 20, 2011

I am the designated costume designer for our high school musical production that we'll be performing this Spring. The director wants authentic looking Thai fishermen pants in bright colors for all the dancers to wear.

They have to be made out of cotton or a cotton blend as he won't allow the modern stretch pants that kids are wearing today.

My question is, does anyone know where I can purchase a pattern, or how to make these Thai fisherman pants in a one size fits all? They'll be worn by both boys and girls of various sizes.

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