I have owned precisely one pair of coloured jeans in my life to this point. I bought them in the mid-1980s, they were a pair of red button-fly Levi’s and I wore them off-and-on for a decade.
Back then, coloured denim wasn’t common. You didn’t see gaggles of hipsters — both male and female — roaming the streets in bright jeans. Denim for the most part was blue or sometimes black. Colour stood out and a pair of cherry-red jeans was not for anyone aiming to be inconspicuous.
While I rarely aimed to be inconspicuous as a teen, my bright red Levi’s propelled my look into a category of conspicuousness I could only achieve wearing those jeans. Of all the the over-the-top pieces I sported in those years, it was the red jeans that got noticed most. I knew this, of course, and would psych myself up for the inevitable stares. Although they’re common now, any pair of coloured denim was a distinct statement piece in the ’80s, inspiring in me a healthy dose of confidence and honing my appreciation of fashion kitsch.
1. Wrangler, Glamour, September 1980.
2. Sasson/Foxmoor, Seventeen, August 1983.
3. P.S. Gitano, Seventeen, September 1984.
4. Rudy Molacek for Young Miss, April 1983.
5. Saint Germain, Vogue, November 1982.
6. Bonjour, Vogue, February 1983. Photograph by Bruce Nemeth.
7. Seruchi, Mademoiselle, September 1984.
8. Sasson, Seventeen, May 1980.