How The Strokes changed not just music, but men’s jeans too

By Stefano on January 10th, 2013 0 comments yet. Be the First

There’s a really interesting article over at The Guardian where Paula Cocozza looks into why Skinny Jeans have become so popular in the UK.

They might not be for everyone, but since the mid noughties and in spite of the best efforts to re-market the Boot Cut – Levi’s have recently gone with Boot Cut Skinny – the drainpipes as your dad used to call them remains the cut of choice, ooh for anyone under 40 (and a few aging rockers too)

The really interesting question though is what sparked this revival (they were worn by Punks in the late 70s and Teds in the 50s had pretty tight trousers too)? Was it some enterprising stylist who started to champion them? Or was it a celebrity looking to wear something different who brought them back into style?

The answer is probably a bit of both? According to The Guardian the fashion industry was embracing them over a decade ago.

Earl Jean offered slim straight-legs in 2001. In her autumn/winter 2002 collection, Stella McCartney showed trousers drawn taut by cuffs and zips and stirrups. There were stretchy legs at Versus and slim ones at MaxMara.

But it was a celebrity who played a significant role in popularising the style for men at least and not one that you are thinking of. Nope not Russell Brand or even Pete Doherty.

But the man who I think deserves the accolade for being at least partially responsible for the British style success story of the decade is Nick Valensi – the guitarist (who isn’t Albert Hammond) with The Strokes.

Given how quickly they fell from grace after their rather disappointing second album it is hard to remember what a huge impact The Strokes made on Britain and its media. They went from a well kept secret among power pop fans who raved about their debut EP The Modern Age, to playing gigs in sell out London venues where the celebrities outnumbered the indie pop punters.

After half a decade of championing all things British – think Brit pop, Brit art etc The Stokes were when the UK fell in love again with the idealised version of New York. The five undernourished looking dark haired fellas seemed to encapsulate all that we loved about the city from their urban style through to their edgy, but accessible driving punky pop that inevitably drew comparisons with Blondie, The Velvet Underground and and The Ramones.

But check out those early pics of the band (see above) and you’ll see that one member, Mr Valensi, wears his jeans that little bit tighter than the rest in way that conjures up images of a certain band some 20 years earlier.

At the time the press wrote endless stories about the band’s style and their tight trousers. A seed was planted and other rock icons, celebrities and fashion houses took note so that by the mid noughties skinny jeans were starting hitting the mainstream for men. Topshop’s Baxter range along side Kate Moss and others did the trick for women. Within a few years the reign of the Boot Cut would be over and if you didn’t have the legs to go skinny, you wanted your jeans at least straight.

Anyway hop over to The Guardian and read the article. I am off to play Is This It?




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