Wednesday, 22 October 2014

jeans represent democracy in fashion

Taken by Antonio

Jeans have always been a wardrobe essential, but now they are not slack, but stylish.

This season, it is not only the uber cool off-duty supermodels that you can see dashing around London in cashmere jumpers, chunky black boots and a pair of flawlessly fitted skinny jeans. Many a budding fashionista has traded in their experimental avant-garde attire for the simplicity of denim, and it is not just one style drawing the fans in either. One day you may be dressed up in skinny jeans, a fitted jumper and a faux fur gilet. The next day you may opt for a vintage sweatshirt with a pair of baggy ripped jeans and delicate stilettos. Another day you might decide to wear a plaid shirt tucked into belted mom jeans with heeled Chelsea boots.

Clockwise from top left: Alexa Chung via, Sasha Luss via, fashion blogger Andy Heart, fashion blogger Summer Listen, Charlie Barker and Elizabeth Jane Bishop via Instagram, Kate Moss via Flickr, Natalie Off Duty, Chiara Ferragni

As fashion peacocks compete for the attention of street-style photographers, there has been subversion back to basics; coined, far from economically, “normcore.” This, however, does not translate to "boring." "I don't think I've seen ugly people wearing ugly jeans for a very long time. Jeans are comfy. They make you look cool without actually having to put effort in. They are just the trouser to wear," says Antonio, drinking a can of Diet Coke as we sit in the dark on the fence surrounding our local park, with cars shining their headlights as they pass. He's wearing a thrifted denim jacket, burgundy sweatshirt, white Converse and Topman blue jeans, "Double denim is okay because Alexa Chung said so," he justified to me earlier when we were waiting to pay for our drinks. "I really like Mom jeans" he explains, "Not whether they look good on me or not, but when I see people wearing Mom jeans and pulling it off casually, it looks good." And if money was no object and he could buy any jeans he wanted? "Levis because you trust them. Levis are the classics."

Jeans through history: Clockwise from top left: James Dean via, Teddy boys via tumblr, 1950s teenagers via tumblr, editorial via Teen Vogue, Marlon Brando via, Vintage Levi's ad via

Levi's are definitely the classics. Levi began making denim overalls in the 1870s. The first pair of 501 jeans were made in the 1890s. These would later go on to be the brand's best-selling style. At first, the jeans were mostly sold only to cowboys, lumberjacks and rail-road workers. Although Levis have been around since the late 19th century, it was not until the 1950s that they began to be adopted as a sort of uniform for youth subcultures. Jeans got their cool, rebellious label from films like "Rebel Without A Cause." The likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando gave sex appeal to an item previously associated only with manual labour. As Antonio said, Levis are trusted. Many people go back and buy more than one pair from the brand.

Clockwise from top left: Woodstock via, 1970s teenagers via, Ramones via, quote via Pinterest, 1990s teenagers via

The jeans you wear can say a lot about you. There is a sense of solidarity between everyone who wears Mom jeans, as there is between those wearing skinny jeans. Jeans will always have strong links to subcultures and the source of identity that comes with them. "If I see people wearing black jeans I always think of them as being grungy scene kids. I always think they're gonna have skinny jeans, Doc Martens and a baggy top" Antonio explains. Similarly, the revival of Mom jeans has links to teenage girl internet culture and ripped jeans with patches and safety pins are quintessentially punk.

Street style photos via Tommy Ton

Jeans also have that androgynous appeal that is currently so adored by the fashion world. A quality skinny jean is completely genderless. The ways in which jeans can be styled also tend to lean in a direction devoid of gender norms. Antonio concluded the interview by adding that "That tough thing, for me, as a boy, [is that] there's not much else to wear. I don't like shorts. I like jeans." If I'm not wearing a skirt, I'm wearing jeans. It is difficult to find well-fitted trousers that are as comfortable and flattering as jeans. Furthermore, in August, Leandra Medine asked on Man Repeller, "Are legs out?" as she sat in high waisted black skinny jeans on one of the hottest days of the year.

Left to right: Hood By Air SS15, Fendi SS15, 6397 SS15

Before this year I had not owned a single pair of jeans for some time. I now own 4, with another pair at the very top of my wishlist. The pair in question are the Topshop black ripped Jamie jeans. I have 2 pairs of Topshop jeans and really think that they are the best place on the high street to find the perfect fit. Jeans are such an essential ingredient to an outfit. They take up so much space that they have to be paid attention to. This is why it is paramount that you find the right pair for you. Be fashion forward with high-waisted wide leg jeans like those from Anna Sui Spring/Summer '15, proving that the runway is not immune to this trend. Faded denim, as seen in 6397's SS15 collection is also very on trend right now. Fendi's SS15 collection saw denim on the Fendi runway for the first time ever, proving that jeans can fit into any brand identity.

Clockwise from top left: £25, Rokit; £75, American Apparel; £42, Topshop; £25, Rokit; £75, American Apparel, £40, Topshop; £25, Rokit; £70, Marques Almeida x Topshop; £42, Topshop; £55, The Ragged Priest; £40, Topshop.

A classic pair of Levi's, Acne or Saint Laurent jeans may be high quality, but mostly people want jeans that look good. This means that if your budget does not stretch to designer brands, like most of ours, then it is more worthwhile to get some medium quality jeans in a style that you love. Then you can buy more pairs in different styles. However, there is no need to substitute practicality for style in jeans; you can have both. Ripped jeans are still functional and comfortable, if not a little cold if they are really ripped. Beauty and practicality coexist in jeans and that is why we keep going back to them.


  1. i like what you said about jeans being linked to subcultures, people could guess something about you solely from your jeans, I never realised it but it seems so obvious now. jeans are truly timeless x

    1. they really are! i'm glad you liked the post x

  2. This is really great. Really interesting about jeans and subculture esp. punk. I'd agree that jeans represent democracy in fashion but fashion has also gobbled this up and spat it back out if you know what I mean? Like punks used to rip their jeans as a DIY sign of rebellion and now the high street SELLS you ripped jeans. Cool blog post x


    1. I know what you mean but there isn't really any way to stop such things. We can only try to recreate the original magic of punk, but it will never be the same as the start of it. It's like how Vogue refused to comment on punk in the '70s because it was too "ugly" and now they talk about it ALL THE TIME. However, without that happening we probably wouldn't have i-D x


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