This a tale of times long long ago – in the land that Levi Strauss forgot.
Of British boys and girls with – denim set on destruction.
Born in 1955 I was hurled into the turmoil of the Swinging Sixties, with little or no idea concerning style or fashion. Clothes were hand me down, home made accessories to a guileless life of pre-teen, jean-less hi-jinx.
The Beat Boom, that raging torrent that swamped the North West of England in a swirling vortex of raw R’n’B and indigo trousers changed all that forever.
I have no idea just here they came from, or any idea or where they eventually went, but my first pairs of jeans were Tek Sac and/or Jet.
A thin copy of their American cousins, cut and stitched with a casual carelessness from the pale blue gossamer that was Empire Brand cotton, they were pre-worn out, threadbare before you had actually worn them out. Designed to induce a distressed look in the wearer, years before the coming of the distressed look.
Jet seemed to have survived into the 70s – rich in Disco Chic, even warranting their own TV ad – get into Jet Jeans get into Jet.
As I remember the first pair of serious branded jeans were local – for famous local people – they were Liverpool made Lybro of Mount Vernon. A slightly heavier denim, styled to suit and fit the lower half of the upwardly-mobile, mobile teenage tearaway.
In 1963, a Liverpool jeans company, Lybro Limited, asked if The Beatles would advertise their jeans. The request may either have come through the group’s manager, Brian Epstein – or through their friend at the Cavern Club, DJ Bob Wooler. The advertising agency behind the campaign was Millican Advertising Limited, operating from Liverpool 3.
The original photos came to light in 2004, when photographer Richard Cooper unearthed the pictures in an old file and remembered the shoot on which he worked as a young 20-year-old apprentice at a photo studio in Liverpool’s African Chambers.
The photos formed the basis of drawings used on the final advertisements.
Then along came came Brutus – possibly the first homegrown denim to challenge the American imports for distinctive style and quality.
By now flares had flared up like an unwanted rash on the face of the mid-seventies, whilst I remained in a parallel omniverse – constant and true to the parallel cut.
Beloved of the boot-boy and rampaging teenage togger hooligan alike, Skinners ran counter to the ever widening gulf between toe cap and jean hem. I had several pairs in the Seventies, indigo, white and corduroy – we were out, straight and proud.
Less enlightened times produced a rash of Skinner clad misdemeanours on the streets and terraces of this fair Isle.
Manchester United fans in Cardiff 1974
As the Seventies began to collide with the Eighties the upper half of the UK embraced the widest and wildest styles they could find, the northern soul danced to Northern Soul, as jeans, skirts and trousers wrapped and embraced their flailing all-night limbs.
John Bulmer – Manchester 1974
Blues & Soul August 1976
Blues & Soul January 1979
It couldn’t last, we had to take a narrower view in our strides.
The onset of Punk Rock heralded the inception of the skinnier jean – despatching the Hippy flare and Soul Boy bag, indigo to the bargain bins of history.
I then began to buy mine from Crazy Face – brainchild of Joe Moss, he had series of Stockport shops on Mealhouse Brow, Lower Hillgate and Tiviot Dale along with Chapel Walks in Manchester – Joe would later find fame managing Manchester pop sensations The Smiths.
Stuart Lee of Stockport County at Mealhose Brow
For years I would wear a wide variety of wide and not so narrow Crazy Face denim – served by fresh-faced, soon to be superstar DJ Jason Boardman.
Nothing last forever and my love affair with home grown denim eventually came to an end, Joe Bloggs, Hooch and Bench largely passed me by.
And so our story ends – a Storm Rider in a turn up, I began wearing Lee Jeans and I’ve never looked back, owning several pairs in various states of wash and wear loved, they are now no longer made.
So some ways down the line I’ll have to take a look at what’s shaking – shake down a pair of eBay Tek Sacs and start all over again.