In the USA, Dockers is khaki pants (aka, chinos). The Levi Strauss owned brand will launch a new global, pan-seasonal marketing platform in 2016, its own version of Levi’s “Live In Denim” – to coincide with its 30th anniversary. Sportswear International caught up with Doug Conklyn, chief creative officer, tan and tailored in a khaki suit, in the piano room of the Lansdowne Club, in London’s Mayfair – at the brand’s cocktail party for veterans’ charity Flannels For Heroes.

“Levi Strauss is committed to Dockers. We’re one of the major khaki brands in the world, and we own the business in the US, but in Europe we’re looking to expand,” says Conklyn. “In the next 6-12 months, we’ll be coming out with a global, strong, enduring point of view with respect to the marketing and position of the brand.”

In Europe, Dockers remains big in Spain and parts of France, but in the UK and other key EMEA territories the brand’s only representation is online. Turkey is a focus market.

Dockers’ market research has revealed a loyal consumer - the Genuine Good Guy - and a niche, “the brand you can travel with”: “We all travel more and want to pack less,” says Conklyn. The latest collections strive for versatile looks that carry men through the day and night. Dockers has shifted focus from roomy khakis to straight and slim chinos, nearly half of which contain stretch, and has sexed-up its performance elements - quick-drying and cooling fabrics to supplement stain resistant and wrinkle-free.

“We’ve recently transitioned all of Alpha, our leading casual pant in Europe, to stretch. Our trousers continue to get skinnier and skinner. Once you’ve worn stretch, I can’t imagine people going backwards – because of the comfort, because of the style,” says Conklyn.

Like Levi’s, Dockers’ design team is based in San Francisco. Conklyn has fixed the Dockers DNA to four pillars: classic, authentic, San Francisco and America. He explains: “Our point of view is classic American brand. We’re not afraid of colour and using fabrics like Oxford cloth and poplin and pique. We’re rooted in classic menswear, it’s something I keep preaching and preaching, but there are new ways to manage relevancy through fit and fabric.

“San Francisco - I dress differently in California than I’ve ever dressed, more laidback, less uptight. For the first time in my life I don’t tuck my shirt in. I wear Vans with my khakis; I only ever wore loafers and lace-ups with khakis. So I mix my East Coast preppy roots with more of a California sensibility – what’s important is how you wear it.

“Authentic is really important to me – khaki has a military heritage, which means there’s a sensibility in pocket arrangements, details, patterns, buttons.”

Conklyn revived Dockers K1, the brand’s equivalent to Levi’s Vintage Clothing, on joining the brand five years ago, but it has since been discontinued. K1 will be relaunched, he says, including the iconic military fits, but accommodating modern techniques and cuts. Fingers crossed for 2017.

“I always bought my shoes in England,” reminisces Conklyn. “And for the first few weeks they hurt like hell, until you broke them in. I was perfectly happy to sacrifice comfort for style. The difference today: you don’t have to. You may still have to break in a good pair of shoes once in a while, but when it comes to clothing, you’re able to get style and fit and comfort straight out of the box.”