Once the holy grail of the fashion biz, until recently denim as a designer category has been was, well, tepid. The past year was marked by a slew of major denim moves that have ushered in a new approach to the tried and true staple of any wardrobe. Fiorucci, Tommy Jeans, Calvin Klein and the like are all on the up and up back, but there are a few more on CR’s fantasy shortlist.
Perhaps the most anticipated relaunch of late is the return of Fiorucci, which was saved by English business power-couple, Janie Schaffer and ex-husband Stephen Schaffer. shortly before the charismatic Italian founder’s death at the age of 80. Now sold exclusively at Barneys, the refreshed line focuses on the sexy, tight stretch denim the brand is credited with inventing—the story goes that Elio Fiorucci was inspired after seeing a pair of wet denim jeans clinging to a party goer in Ibiza. Along with counting Madonna, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jackie Onassis as collaborators and clients, Fiorucci was the creative breeding ground for Terry Jones, photographer Maripol, creative director Oliviero Toscani, and performance artist Joey Arias. It even got props in the Sister Sledge song “He’s the Greatest Dancer.” With that level of creative DNA in its blood, Fiorucci is bound to kill it in the digital age too.
As announced last week, Hilfiger Denim will be re-branding to Tommy Jeans. Or rather, it’s more of a return, as the American brand’s denim collection was already named that up until 2005. In any case, due to the runaway success of its Gigi Hadid collaborations and retro-Hilfiger merchandise that has flooded retailers like Urban Outfitters and ASOS, Generation Z has a newfound fascination with the denim line that grew to worldwide recognition after its humble roots in Elmira, New York. While Tommy Hilfiger himself has been in and out of favor with the music world, thanks to artists like Rihanna and Bruno Mars—who regularly sport the label and the love of all things 90’s—this denim brand is in the right place at the right time to soar once again.
Calvin Klein Jeans
One of the most iconic images of denim is Brooke Shields in the 1980 campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans. While unbuttoning her blouse and kicking up her leg in an inverted bridge pose, the 14-year-old Shields bared her midsection on TV, uttering nothing came between her and her Calvin’s. The innuendo set the stage for the brand to infuse its denim and underwear lines —often seen as one in the same in its advertising – with sex. (Hello Marky Mark aka Wahlberg and Kate Moss, hottest “could’ve been” couple by far.) Since taking the reins at Calvin Klein last year, Raf Simmons has injected the American brand with a dose of his Euro-cool, while embracing Americana via pop culture. Sure shootin’, western-infused staples in satin on his Spring 2018 runway will translate perfectly to Calvin Klein Jeans denim styles.
Founded as a denim store in 1969 by brothers Joe, Ralph, David, and Avi Nakash, the brothers’ bad luck turned to good fortune when insurance claim money after a fire during the 1977 New York City blackout funded the launch of Jordache Jeans. Their sexy, tight-fitting dark denim jeans made a splash with their racy TV ads depicting a topless model riding a horse through the surf, hence the bronco head on their label. The unisex brand played into the sexy side of the Western theme. Though Jordache made a short comeback in the early aughts when starlets like Lindsay Lohan sported styles for the brand’s 35 year anniversary, these days the Nakashs have turned their interests towards real estate and restaurants such as Strip House. As the brand turns 40 this year, it celebrates yet again with a campaign shot by Cass Bird, featuring Alessandra Ambrosio and daughter Anja Ambrosio Mazur, who at 8 can help capture the next generation of tweens.
What’s not to love about Guess, whose famous Marilyn jean—pants so snug they had three zippers—made denim for the sexpot in all of us? Not to mention its charge in the first acid wash phase of denim in the 80’s Or the sexy pin-up-style campaigns shot by Ellen Von Unwerth that helped catapult the careers of, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Laetitia Casta, and the late Anna Nicole Smith, among others. While the brand still plays out in a mass market culture, collaborations such as the most recent with vintage retailer Sean Wothersoon of Round Two may help the brand return to its’ top tier designer denim status.
What better time than now for Versace Jeans—the 90’s answer to skinny jeans and standard-bearer of the style when Gianni ruled the balmy beaches of Miami. Sister Donatella, who has carried the torch for the brand since his passing in 1998 celebrated his life’s work in her Spring 2018 collection, complete with supers—Cindy, Claudia, Naomi, Helena and Carla—werking it to “Freedom! 90” during the show’s finale.
Levi’s, Wrangler, and Lee
For arguments sake, let’s dump all American Western workwear jeans in one comeback concept. Levi’s has gotten a jump on the track thanks impart to the Gen Z craving for authenticity (it suffered from generational bias with the Millenials who didn’t want to wear their parent’s jeans) and their cropped, frayed straight leg styles are spot on style-wise. Their counterparts—and respectively the number two and three in the market—are poised for rebirth. No other jeans said “high-rise” and “iron me” like a pair of Wranglers. Not to mention their magical hip slimming shape. Lee Jeans were also favored as a dark denim choice in the early 80’s. High-waisted, their smaller back pockets and curved back yoke made for a cinched-waist effect.END
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