This is component of Image Issue 4, "Image Makers," a paean to L.A.’s luminaries of style. In this concern, we pay tribute to the people and brands pushing fashion society in the city forward.

You are watching: I know exactly what you got in them jeans

I bought my first pair of jeans in practically a decade last month — a modest pair of Uniqlo straight-leg, light-wash jeans via the exact amount of stretch I require in the “widening waistline” portion of my life. Denim is not my point. It’s coarse, overly casual and makes me think of weekends invested through my parental fees acquiring lost in our neighborhood Costco. A good pair of jeans that fits well have the right to make you look prefer a pop star or a rugged individualist. An ill-fitting pair can transcreate you right into a harried salesman at a trade present or Napoleon Dynamite.

But what constitutes the perfect fit? That’s far from a worked out issue, though the occupants of Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, Eagle Rock and also the many type of communities that make up Northeast L.A. seem to have actually sided as soon as and for all via that symbol of the mid- to late 2000s: the skinny jean.

Wander about Highland also Park lengthy enough and also you’re likely to view tight black jeans, wallet chains, Converse All Stars and also all manner of various other accoutrements of the bygone Obama era. While neighborhoods choose Virgil Village and Silver Lake simply seem to acquire younger as they even more gentrify, Northeast L.A.’s gentrification price can register an 8.5 on Pitchfork.com. If you don’t understand what Pitchfork is, you’re not in the demographic I’m talking about. If you do, you could still be going to music venues prefer Permanent Records Roadhouse, or probably you reap reliving the glory days of the Hi Hat (R.I.P.). Some people could also contact you a “hipster,” that outdated catch-all term for anyone that believed they were cool in their 20s. Whatever before that word supposed ago then appears irappropriate now, bereason, whether we choose it or not, time hasn’t stopped passing.

Eextremely few years, the expectations for just how a pair of jeans have to settle on your body adjust. You can have rocked low-climb or boot-cut in the early on 2000s. Then, as you gained older, you got those stiff, selvage jeans from A.P.C. Now, you’re maybe wearing them high-waisted and also elastic. When I remained in high institution, the truly edgy alternative was JNCOs, the baggy jeans from the ’90s popularized by ravers and devotees of the Insane Clown Posse. JNCOs were wide sufficient that, under particular scenarios, you might fit a whole other perchild inside the pant legs if the occasion dubbed for it.


I remain flabbergasted by just how JNCOs came to be popular in the initially location, but it’s not for me to issue about. They appeacaused someone. In truth, they appearesulted in several civilization for a long, long time. Jeans are a means to specify subcultures even if those subcultures ultimately end up being the leading culture. Hippies, ravers, punks, hip-hop fans, jocks, nerds, moms and also dads: There’s a pair of jeans for every sensibility. That’s the thing about jeans. They’re a deeply personal expression of who you are and also what social circle you feel prefer you fit into; yet they’re also time capsules, windows into certain moments in our shared cultural history. The method jeans fit (or don’t) can remind you of a area and also a time in your life, a period of youth or personal expansion or full-on misery.

The shape, the cut and the fit of jeans can change, but the remainder of it pretty much remains immovable. Hence, we tend to develop an emotional link to them in ways that we don’t through other garments. The Gen-Z TikToks clowning millennials for clinging to skinny jeans from last spring hurt exactly bereason jeans are something we associate with youth, vitality, coolness and also rebellion. If a person younger than you tells you to cut up your skinny jeans and also “burn them,” it’s not just a shrewd piece of fashion criticism. It’s a means of illustration a line between the kids and the olds.

A New York Times trend piece ignited the controversy almost everywhere aobtain ago in April, advertising, “Loose, even baggy, jeans for women and also guys were booming and poised to end up being a hallnote of our post-pandemic human being.” Even the male who made skinny jeans a cultural phenomenon, previous Saint Laurent designer Hedi Slimane, is blowing out his jeans in his current function at Celine. To wear skinny jeans now is to run the risk of seeming out of touch.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t bothered via jeans in so lengthy. They’re too tied up in generational angst. The minute I commit to a pair, I’ve committed to an concept. I’m also wishy-washy, noncommittal and also eager to please to tie myself to a trfinish. No one’s ever obtained mad about a pair of sensible navy troindividuals. Who has an emotional attachment to khakis besides the man from the State Farm insurance commercials? If I don’t play the game, I can’t lose.

That’s what’s so noble about the wandering hipsters of Northeast L.A. No one is complex the skinny supremacy of their jeans. The people of Highland Park aren’t just going to chuck their Urban Outfitters denim in the bin. The skinny jean dream is not dead for the late-30s bohemian hopeful who still puts butlots on their jacket lapels. Stretches of Northeastern L.A. can make you feel favor time stood still back in 2009.

There’s still the taint of guitar strings and also navel gazing in the air all approximately Northeastern L.A., however that’s not the natural scent of the place. This was and continues to be first and foremost a working-course neighborhood — through auto body shops, edge stores and also panaderias lining York Boulevard. Time doesn’t actually stand still. Places favor Highland also Park are being jerked right into a brand-new human being, wbelow each year civilization move through the hope of remaking the location in their picture.

If the grocery save you favor isn’t in your neighborhood, don’t issue. It’ll open there quickly sufficient. Don’t favor the bars because they don’t play the music you prefer? Be patient. Gentrification is not necessarily the act of moving to a brand-new community. It’s when your existence essentially transforms the cloth of a location to suit your requirements. It’s sort of prefer that via jeans. That concept of the “perfect fit” and also the method world slam others for exactly how they wear their jeans is a type of fashion gentrification. Millennials don’t like baggy pants, so baggy pants must go amethod. Gen Z doesn’t understand why millennials wear skinny jeans and also they have to all throw their pants in the dumpster.

But that conformity could actually bring some people together. Maybe it’s that many younger world grew up listening to Morrissey. Maybe they discovered themselves in the 2000s hipster society that was so willing to co-opt blue-collar aesthetics. No issue the inspiration, skinny jeans seem to cross ethnic and also cultural obstacles. It doesn’t issue if you flourished up in Northeast L.A. or just chosen being able to walk home from the York on a Friday night. You more than likely have to squeeze right into your pants in the morning. What brings us together even more than the mutual feeling of being incredibly uncomfortable after a large meal? I provided up the skinny jeans thing a lengthy time back, because they just didn’t fit. But really, there’s no such thing as a perfect fit — if it’s a neighborhood, a generation or a pair of jeans.

See more: Summarize The Goals And Actions Of The Jacobins, Who Were The Jacobins And Girondins

Dave Schilling is a writer, humorist and appreciator of fashion whose job-related has appeared in the New Yorker, the Guardian, New York Magazine and GQ. He is also the host of the “Galaxy Brains” podactors.