3:35 pm Sep. 6, 2012
Jeans have a long history in the United States, since they were invented in 1873 by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss as workmen's pants whose distinct characteristic was not the denim cloth they were made of but the copper rivets that reinforced the weak points in work pants.
After World War II they were common as playclothes and work clothes, and later among hippies and flower children; bell-bottom jeans were certainly not for the factory.
Of course throughout that time, Levi's, Lee and Wrangler advertised heavily on television. But those ads had a distinctly homey feel to them, marketed to household decisionmakers like a basic household staple. It was in the designer jeans era that advertising for jeans went nuts, frequently mimicking ad campaigns for cars, cologne, or spirits (marketing sex) or luxury goods like Chanel perfume (marketing sex to richer people).
What follows is a lightly annotated and hopefully chronologically accurate trip through jeans ads, from 1977 to 1987.
(Note: There are 25 of them, which is why it's broken up into four pages. If your browser is amazing then go ahead and read it on one! The button's at the top of the story.)
It's all about getting little Tommy to tell Mom he wants these jeans and cords.
And now Levi's insists they aren't just about jeans (just as every other brand tries to convince everyone they are).
Probably the urtext of 70s jeans ads.
By February of 1980, the jeans ad was such a known commodity that Gilda Radner was able to lampoon the genre on Saturday Night Live.
JORDACHE, 1980 (KIDS)
The kid comes back into the picture.
CHIC JEANS (YEAR UNKNOWN)
Coded message to women who think they can't pull off skin-tight jeans: Buy ours! (Pronunciation guide: CHICK.)
GOLDIGGERS (precise year unknown)
I was amazed when I thought abou this ad years later. Goldiggers? What precisely are the ambitions of these young girls?