Denim: Fashion’s Frontier

Want to thank Emma McClendon, curator of the fantastic show ‘Denim: Fashion’s Frontier’ at the Museum at FIT, for taking me through it today and for revealing its ideas and process in her articulated words. It was a treat. Seeking to examine the history of denim from the 19th century to the present, the exhibition highlights its cultural significance, staring from the iconic Levis Jeans of the 1870, ending with its revival by Japanese brands today. I was stunned to learn that according to anthropologist Daniel Miller, on any given day nearly half the world’s population is wearing jeans. In the chronological story of the denim, I was particularly taken by its most radical transformation in the 70s, when jeans was turned into a sex symbol. The show features three brands, Fiorucci, Calvin Klein, and Jordache, which defined jeans this way, creating styles that were so tight, forcing wearers to lie down in order to zip them up. This new fashion was demonstrated by 15-year old Brooke Shields in the unforgettable commercial (below). The trend, in fact, was not initiated by Klein, but by Italian brand Fiorucci in its iconic “Safety Jeans.” I loved the example by Tom Ford for Gucci (below) which made headlines when was priced at $3,000. The exhibition is not only fascinating, but makes us think differently about jeans, and remember why we all love it.

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