In the eighties, we totally valued designer labels. We knew that having
that stallion’s head or question mark-triangle on our blue jeans’ back
pocket would ensure our lasting popularity. Designer jeans were pricey,
sure, but in the 1980s we were happy to save our pennies (and beg our
parents shamelessly) for that perfect pair of high-waisted denims.
Here are the Big Four designers of blue jeans in
Gloria Vanderbilt. Gloria Vanderbilts were the ultimate
designer jeans of the early and mid 80s: expensive, recognizable, and
skintight. Eighties ladies were drawn to their aura of posh upper-crust-ness,
hardly surprising since Gloria Vanderbilt herself was the epitome of a
fancy high society lady. OF COURSE we’d want to emulate her. Her jeans
were a dark, rich blue or black with white topstitching and had Gloria’s
signature with that Vanderbilt swan stitched on the back pocket. They
also came in a variety of colors, although I remember the deep, dark
G.V.’s the best. Skip ahead to the two-minute mark of this commercial
medley to check out the G.V. commercial. I love the perky model who says
they “fit like the skin of a grape.”
(Note: Gloria Vanderbilt commercial is 6th in the lineup.)
Jordache. The wind-blown horse, the darkwash denim, the
Jordache look. It was ALL THE RAGE in my elementary school, you guys.
They had to be that super dark denim, too; once the knees got worn and
faded, Jordache jeans lost a lot of their cool factor. Like Gloria
Vanderbilts, Jordache had white topstitching on top of the dark denim,
and I recall some cool pinstripes, too. Jordache jeans are still around
today, although I’m pretty sure the kids today aren’t pestering their
parents to buy them when they go back-to-school shopping any more.
Calvin Klein. At the tender age of 15, Brooke Shields
became the face and body of Calvin Klein jeans in 1980.
Pretty Baby Brooke was no stranger to scandal, and Calvin Klein
cashed in on her beauty and fame in their successful advertising
campaign. The commercials were both scandalous and memorable, and helped
make Calvin Klein jeans synonymous with youthful, edgy sex appeal.
Calvin Klein successfully branched out into perfumes, clothing, and
underwear. So, what comes between you and YOUR Calvins...?
Guess. Guess was the
first major brand to hit on the “stonewashed” denim look. This led to
acid washing, shredding, shotgunning, and all sorts of other shenanigans
to lend that fabulously distressed look. They came in all sorts of
modern colors and finishes, with ankle zippers and pleats and exposed
button-flies. Mid- and late-80s teenagers and young adults coveted the
jeans as well as Guess? miniskirts, overalls, and shorts. Guess
campaigns featured beautiful young models like Claudia Schiffer and Eva
Herzigova; these lucky models achieved huge career boosts from their
Guess work. The first lady of France, Carla Bruni, became a Guess girl
in 1988 when Paul Marciano discovered her, and her career subsequently
took off like a rocket. In this commercial, we get the wealthy European
jet-setter vibe that Guess had going on:
We’re pretty open-minded when it comes to jeans nowadays, although that
up-to-there waist is still resoundingly retro. Happily, there are plenty
of authentic vintage designer jeans available on Etsy and Ebay for your
eighties fashion needs. If you never got your very own pair of Guess or
Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in the 1980s, satisfaction is just a click away.