the-south-asian.com June/July 2004
Page 1 of 4
- the changing DNA
by Salman S. Minhas
Jeans have evolved from the very basic single-celled amoebic entity to the top rung of the chromosome ladder. Levi's, Wranglers, Pierre Cardins, Calvin Kleins, Gaps - all have been left behind - there is an entire new generation of jeans and brands dedicated to achieving a vintage, beaten, yet a creased, cool look. The result is a list of new premium fashion jeans with names like Evisu –Triple E their newest brand, Rogan, Seven for All Mankind, Chip and Pepper, Paper Denim , Edwin, Ingenue, Buckler Denim, G-Star, Citizens of Humanity, Notify, Blue Guru, Saddlelites, and Blue Cult, Oligo Tissew by Oliver Twist, Etienne Ozeki, Lucky Jeans, Agave .with a price tag of $ 100 to $ 300 a pair.
Whether you drive a humble 4-cylinder 1000-2000 c.c working class car or a $300,000 5998 c.c Ferrari-Enzo ; whether you indulge in Beluga Caviar and Dom Perignon / Krug's champagne "Clos du Mesnil" or enjoy an innocuous Beaujolais, this article is for all.
Jeans became the iconic image of Brand America / U.S.A. when Levi’s Jeans started off[1850’s] as a piece of working class, plebian / utilitarian clothing meant to stand up to the rigors of building railways and mining for gold in the American wild west. The very logo on the original Levi-Strauss shows two horse coaches trying to pull apart a pair of Levi Jeans; later the symbolic eagle on the back pockets was sewn on to show the American eagle as a symbol of strength.
The great economic depression of the 1920-30’s saw jeans become the image of hard times. The 50s brought James Dean and Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley to start a virtual Renaissance of Jeans. In the 60s, San Francisco’s flower children & people’s power, the bohemians and the counter culture further solidified jeans as an anti-establishment protest icon. The 60s jeans became a palette for self-expression, stuck with patchwork, studs embroidery and psychedelic patterns. By 1970 mass production officially became a mainstream apparel staple.
The Generation X of the 1990s recession saw Jeans again enter a period of great depression. Spiritual "dudes" with their tribal tattoos, cargo pants with inumerable pockets, pierced tongues, shaved heads, pushed jeans into another ecological fashion niche. Further on in the more conservative business world the original Jean was not dead. It had over time simply morphed into Chino’s, Dockers, etc.
The 1990s rap music black youth increased the volume of the cloth required in the making of the Jean. One did not need a parachute in skydiving; the baggy jean would serve the place of the parachute. Jeans had come to embody/ reflect our tribal and bio-fashion diversity with all the various embellishments/ incarnations of personalities/ history in myriad forms. In India, "Charms" cigarettes,a working class cigarette and not a superior flavor, marketed a carton that was in the color of a blue jean.
In terms of their bio-fashion styles/ sub-species, jeans have evolved from the worker jeans to the designer Jeans, the oily [Bush] Jeans, the dowdy, the cheesy[ working class folks], the rebel [ Marlon Brando, James Dean- "Rebel without a Cause"], the celebrity [Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Britney Spears], the casual-classy-chic [ Jackie Kennedy], the macho Jeans [John Wayne, Robert Redford], rock music [Elvis Presley], the arty/freaky [Andy Warhol], the country [Jimmy Carter], the comedy [Charlie Chaplin], the freedom-fighter [Martin Luther King], the spiritual /hippie counter culture Jeans [ Ginzburg, Bob Dylan, Woodstock] the power presidency [ Reagan, Clinton], and the royalty Jeans [Prince William].
The logos of these various jean makers too reflect this passage of time/history. Versace Jeans uses metal buttons with the head of Medusa [Greek goddess of evil with snakes instead of hair]. Evisu’s logo is the Buddha God of Fishing, The Agave Jeans has a logo of the desert green cactus/aloe vera type plant [same as University of Arizona’s logo].
Jeans have even found their way into the most conservative business/corporate world of the Telecom industry [Sprint, USA allows jeans on Fridays in their offices]. Today the jean looks set to incarnate/morph itself once again in the 21st century as the icon of this age of Kool-ness, Green-ness/ecology, and the natural/organic.
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