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by Krystle Duldulao, student writer

The jean, defined by the tapered or “skinny” leg, has inspired many jean designers. 7 for all Mankind, J Brand, and True Religion all include a pair in their jeans collection, and many retail chains have jumped on the bandwagon, as well, providing an array of the skinny jean for all consumers.

Local skinny on the skinny
Does the mainland fall trend have a place in Hawai‘i closets? Many of the trends for fall seem right on the streets of New York City: oversized cable-knit sweaters, piles upon piles of layers, luxurious furs. These all prepare the fashionista for the wailing winds of winter, but none can stand up to the heat and humidity of Hawai‘i. Is the skinny jean the exception?

“ I think it’s about location,” said Crystal Artacho, 22. Believing that trends begin on the East coast and slowly make their way west, Artacho said that Hawai‘i is often the last stop for the latest trends.
“ It’s more local here,” said Ashley Monden, 22. “People don’t have time to even wear jeans. All they want to wear are slippers and surf shorts.”

Perhaps, but the jean that has been seen on such celebrities as Sienna Miller and Mischa Barton has popped up in many stores in Hawai‘i.

“ Everything always comes back around,” said Heidi Kama, store manager of Guess Factory.

“ Fashion designers like to pull [past] fashion trends and make them new again,” she added.
The tapered leg, a trend that was thought to have gone out of the window with shoulder pads and tie-dye shirts, often makes it hard for women to get into the jean. And that’s only one element of the jean that can make it challenging to even try one on.

Still, Guess Factory at the Waikele Premium Outlets began selling their version of the skinny jean in July, and today, the store carries four styles.

“ I don’t see skinny jeans in Hawai‘i,” said Artacho.

“ [I look for] the length. I don’t like [jeans] too long,” Lorraine Lizardo, 20, said. “Most of the time it’s too long.”

“ I don’t think I would match with skinny jeans,” said Artacho, “since I’m too short. I think it would throw off the proportions of my body.”

The skinny jean’s name gives the misconception that they are for thin and tall women. However, many designers consider real women’s measurements, and they make a skinny jean for every body type. Citizens of Humanity and Levi’s have both made skinny jeans that allow for room in the hips and thighs.

And women can style their skinny jean any which way they want, according to some designers and outlets.

In their Back-To-School campaign, Guess Rocks, Guess Factory offers customer products such as black-and-white striped tunics, pointed pumps, and big watches clad with Swarovski crystals to rock out their skinny jeans.

“ Basically, anything would match with a skinny jean: tanks, t-shirts, halter tops. Match [it] with some flats or pumps,” Lizardo said.

Lizardo added, enthusiastically: “Boots would look good too.”

A brief history
The skinny jean has traveled through decades of poodle skirts and polyester and made its way onto the racks of hundreds of stores and into the closets of thousands of women. But its origins are unknown.

In the 1950s, despite the fact that women rarely wore pants, celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn popularized the trend in black in the film, Funny Face. Scenes from which have been used, recently, in a Gap advertising campaign to reintroduce the skinny jean to their customers.

With the rise of punk rock culture, a product of rebellion and anarchy in 1970s London, the skinny jean once again made its appearance. The jean has graced the legs of Pat Benatar (Blondie), Crissie Hynde (The Pretenders), and David Bowie – which shows its androgynous appeal.

The 1980s saw the skinny jean’s slow rise to mainstream fashion. Accessorized with leg warmers or fitted with a high waist, the indelible denim did not see its best days during this decade, and for those who lived through it, a mention of the skinny jean still conjures up images of Jordache apparel hidden away in a parental closet.

After a hiatus during the 1990s, the jean found its way back into fashion repute at the beginning of the millennium. Still a steep slope away from mainstream fashion, the skinny jean was nonetheless seen sporadically at the runway shows of Stella McCartney and Rock and Republic in 2002.
In fall 2006 the skinny jean bombard the fashion-hungry minds of women everywhere, but in Hawai‘i, the verdict is still out.

Maybe Monden said it best: “Why torture myself?”


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