Alex Capus â€“ Levi's
To tell the truth, I'm not a big fan of brands. I prefer NOT having things. No thanks, I'd rather not have an iPhone, or carry a Samsung or ITC tracking device with me everywhere I go. No sir, not me! Nor do I want to be seen with an IWC Portuguese on my wrist, and I'd be embarrassed to own a BMW Cayenne. I don't feel the urge to drink Perrier either, tap water will do me fine, thank you. Basically, I don't need any brands in my life. There is one though, that means a lot to me. Levi's. Never, ever in my life â€“ NEVER! â€“ would I wear a pair of denims that don't have the Levi's label stitched on the rear. A quirk, I admit, and one I'm not especially proud of, but there you go.
I bought my first pair of blue jeans with my own money in the summer of 1976: they were Levi's. I was fifteen years old, and I recall entering the â€œBlitz Trousers Boutiqueâ€ in Olten where the salesperson measured my narrow hips with approval before laying out a selection of denims that included a pair of Rifle, Wrangler and Levi's on the counter. I already knew which pair I wanted. I'd known before I even entered the shop. Levi's and I were made for each other.
Levi's were for the cool dudes, who rode motorbikes, played guitar and could survive anything, including World War III. Why? Search me. Sure, they fitted perfectly, were hard-wearing and faded well. But that wasn't the point. The point was: Levi's were cool.
To be sure, other brands were okay too. Lee Cooper or Rifle, why not? Rifle jeans were fine, even though they were a little too roomy round the hips. If somebody wanted to wear the Rifle style, fine. Personally, I wouldn't have wanted to, the loose hips made me feel like I was wearing tracksuit pants. Or like a girl. The Lee models werenâ€™t bad, but our catechism teacher wore those. Wrangler was okay too, but their jeans looked a bit too German for my taste. The color was just a little too even, and they always looked like they'd just been ironed even when they hadn't. The iron being the natural enemy of blue jeans, a universal truth that seems to have finally caught on, though until the middle of the 1980's my French cousins â€“ imagine my shame and despairÂ¬â€“ Â¬wore ironed denims, all the way to up early adulthood. Only then, were the people from the land of Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent able to bring themselves to start wearing decently crumpled denims.
And speaking of upscale brands: Denims by Dior, Armani, Boss, D&G, etc., are all, without exception, extremely uncool and not in the least sexy. Never. Anywhere. On anyone. This is such an obvious truth, that I donâ€™t need to elaborate. No person who has even the smallest spark of sensuality and decency left in them should ever pull on a pair of denims like that. Even a pair of Crack blue jeans from the major Swiss supermarket chain Migros would be preferable. That is, if they're still being manufactured. Crack blue jeans were about the worst thing that ever appeared on the denim market. Prior to that, Migros retailed a line of plain, flimsy denims that looked like a product from Eastern Germany. Still, they only cost about CHF 18.- and that made them more or less acceptable. Then Migros became more ambitious and decided to go a little more up-market, so they launched Crack blue jeans. A little more expensive, but not really expensive. A little cool, but not very cool. In short, one of those middle-of-the-road exercises in moderation that is so typically Swiss. Awful. Enough said.
Let's talk about Roy Rogers instead. An Italian brand. Good brand, pretty cool. Ladies' brand. Italian women look stunning in their Roy Rogers. Though naturally that's not just because of the cut, but also because Italian women have the sexiest behinds in the world. On the day I shuffle off this mortal coil and am preparing to exhale my last breath, I hope I will still be able to conjure up the image of a long parade of Italian women's derrieres in my mind's eye. Oddly enough, in this, my Nirvana parade, no Levi's-clad behind has ever played a role. Not something I readily admit, but what can you say? Possibly itâ€™s because in Levi's, behinds tend to look a little too athletic, if not to say downright Anglo-American, proper and purposeful. That has to be said. How different then, Rifle jeans and their generous space round the hips that have made me avoid them all my life. The most attractive behind I ever encountered belonged to a maybe 17-year-old Swiss girl. It was the summer of 1975 in a youth hostel in Bern, just a stone's throw from the Federal parliament buildings, and she was walking up the staircase before me wearing a faded pair of Rifle denims with light yellow stitching. A sight I will remember until the end of my days.
So why do I still obsess about Levi's? Theyâ€™re just trousers after all and at the ripe old age of fifty-three their erstwhile cool factors don't carry much weight anymore. I stopped riding motorbikes long ago, I still canâ€™t play the guitar, and should World War III break out, Iâ€™ll do what everybody else does â€“ including the Lee, Wrangler and Rifle wearers.
On the other hand, I've been wearing the same size (W34/L34) for nearly thirty years now. A fact that I'm more than just a little proud of, and which has the obvious advantage that I can simply grab a new pair off the shelf whenever I go shopping without having to try them on. I mean, why try something new for those few years that remain to me?
The Brander is a publication of the Branders Group