The Evolution of Denim

Just to illustrate how far the denim industry has gone, let me give you some examples: you can buy jeans with diamonds and gold and pay thousands of dollars.

True Religion jeans, which cost anywhere from $200 to $600, were all the rage this summer and everyone had them. Handsblue is an online magazine dedicated to jeans and nothing else.

Popular magazines such as Nylon have special denim issues at least once a year. And, last but not least, Posh Spice, J. Lo, Jessica Simpson, and Beyonce are all making jeans.

It seems that everyone has decided to jump on the denim bandwagon. A year ago, it seemed like the denim bubble would keep its steady grow indefinitely. But skeptics warned that all bubbles inevitably burst. Still, we spent our hard earned paychecks on Seven, Evisu, 1921, Ernest Sewn, Rock and Republic and many, many others.

Come Fall 2005, we are witnessing winds of change. No, it’s not the Age of Aquarius or a song by Scorpion. It is the aftermath of jean-mania. Jeans have finally given up the wheel and quietly taken the back seat. They are now back to their original unobtrusive role and – take me on this one – there they will remain for a long, long time.

Most of the brands that have popped up like mushrooms will dry out, and the few survivors will take on a more humble approach to their trade.

We all have our own personal history when it comes to jeans, and I thought I’d share my own, as a form of farewell to the four year ruling of this particular garment.

The first pair of jeans I remember owning were bought at a Wal-Mart type store. I was in 5th grade still living in Argentina, and quite the tomboy. Not a sports jock, but a twiggy boyish looking girl who’d go to soccer matches with my dad and my brother and scream at the players like the best of the guys.

The jeans were high-rise, tapered, stretch, and very, very tight. I’d wear them with a loose flannel shirt, making my legs look ever skinnier than they were. Compared to my friends’ more developed sense of style, I was quite the sight.

My friends, who had already begun looking a little more like teenagers, were wearing low rise jeans, definitely not quite as tight as mine, and more figure flattering (as you see, the evolution of denim started much earlier in Argentina).

Come 6th grade, I finally decided to give in. I was turning twelve and, in my eyes, that made me an adult, and adults wear grown up clothing.

I had been looking forward to my birthday party for the past month. My parents had let me hire a DJ and even though in the past I had only been allowed to stay out at parties until 11, mine would last until 12.

During the afternoon, I went to the mall with my dad and picked up a pair of brand name black, low rise jeans, a black sweater to match it and black moccasins. If I was going to buy into the trends, at least I’d put my own signature and make my look stand out a little bit.

My new sophisticated self was ready to take on the world! Who knows, there might even have been some kissing involved at the party. Well, it turns out that my party rocked. I didn’t get kissed, but at least I had fun, danced and got to stay up ’til the wee hours of the morning with the few friends that stayed later. I also learned that jeans can be used to trace important milestones of life. Like having a party and turning twelve.

Let’s fast-forward 4 years. I’m sixteen and life can’t be better. Going out every weekend, coming home when the sun had been out for hours, and discovering rock & roll. And the boys. The boys were the best.

My teens were all about hippie chic. Impossibly low jeans (that would cause a fight or two with my dad), which I had added fabric at the bottom to make them flare out even more. The footwear? Converse, of course. My jeans were my life, quite literally. I would incessantly draw on them, doodle, write lyrics of songs, and quotes that I found to be fitting to my life at the time. They were ripped, worn, torn, battered and tattered. They went everywhere with me. Skirts? Umm, no thank you.

When I came to America, only one pair of jeans made it. Some others were given to a friend as a token of our friendship, and others would be given away in a similar manner a few months later. Until I came to college and jean mania started, I would have all my jeans bought and shipped from Argentina by my loving grandmother who has always supported my quest for all that is hip.

My friends in high school wore what was available here at the time, bellybutton rise, dark indigo jeans, that did less for your figure than a pair of unitards. Jeans were stuck in the ’90s, and as you may already know, I hate the ’90s.

Because of my then scandalously low rise jeans (and trust me, they were LOW), I often found myself cleaning the dining hall of my private school, whose officials could not believe that such a trend would ever come to this country. Little did they know.

We all saw what happened in the Summer of 2002 when Gwyneth Paltrow gave a hand to a small time jeans designer called Blue Cult, wearing their jeans out in public.

The rest is history. If I were to do it all over again, there is no question I would. The tight jeans, the obsession with the lowest rise, the thousands spent on the latest designer. I just wish I could have back my 5th grade jeans so I could tuck my cowboy boots in them and look bad ass. Because if there is one thing I’m tired of, it’s showcasing my butt in illusion-creating jeans, with familiar stitching on the pockets that not only put a price on the pants themselves, but on my booty as well.