Monday, March 16, 2009

JNCO Jeans


What could possibly be more flattering than looking like you were standing in two giant logo-emblazoned, hem-dragging overturned denim buckets? No one seemed to bat an eye over the fact that each pant leg could easily house a family of four. JNCO jeans epitomized the rise of the pseudo-"street" poseur movement so beloved by 1990s middle class white kids. Their idea of the mean streets may have been a lemonade stand that refused to accept credit cards, but they could rock a mean pair of ultra wide-leg jeans.

With charming style names like "Mammoth" and "Fatboy," who could resist these grotesquely wide dungarees? The most offending specimens featured a whopping 50'' leg opening measurement, compared to the average 20-some inch leg openings on men's pants today. JNCO jeans also featured mutantly large back pockets that engulfed nearly the entire length of the pants:

JNCO jeans were a prime example of middle-aged marketing teams capitalizing on the 1990s-era growth of youth consumer buying power. With (oversized) pocket money to spare, kids of the 90s were a rapidly growing demographic over whose newfound purchasing power hungry marketers fought viciously. Ad executives spent a great deal of money convincing young people that JNCO jeans were emblematic of their unique sense of youth countercultural rebellion. In the mid-to-late 1990s, the JNCO brand claimed to "deliver[...] the hippest denim jeans and phat styles to satisfy the demands of even the most hardcore hip-hop, skater and music oriented sub-cultures." What, are you trying to telling me this wasn't written by real, live 1990s youths? But they spelled phat with a p-h! And they know of our desire to be "hardcore!" How did the JNCO ad team ever crack our cryptic youth slang code?

The brand epitomized the rising awareness amongst marketers of poseur skater culture. Suddenly, all it took was a pair of obscenely wide-leg jeans to brand oneself to a supposed teen subculture. Parents hated the tacky embroidered logos and the inevitable ratty,ragged hems resultant of the pant legs constantly dragging on the ground; their insistent disapproval encouraged young people that these pants were indeed an affront to the Man, despite the fact that He was the one producing them. The JNCO brand struck a chord with young clothing consumers, particularly with the company's comic-book magazine ad spreads featuring real-life JNCO jeans-wearing models in cartoon settings. Though the brand was originally formulated as a men's and boy's line, JNCO later added a women's line featuring similarly unfortunate wide-legged styles. These were equal opportunity jeans: determined to unflatter any and every type of figure, male or female.

The immense popularity of JNCOs proves that the 1990s were less about looking good and more about fitting in. Never before had an alleged subculture been so carefully calculated by the Man. No longer were our counter-culture trends originating from idealistic hippies or bitter Generation-X musicians. Rather, children of the 1990s unknowingly began to increasingly rely on grown-ups to dictate their trends. The definition of "cool" was more and more frequently prescribed by a group of adult business professionals sitting around a boardroom table. Young people seemed oblivious to the fact that badges of counterculture by definition should not cost $60 a pop. The tide of trend-setting was changing, and the Man was at the helm.

Nevertheless, JNCO jeans represented a paradigmatic shift in the way young people defined themselves. Suddenly, you did not have to believe in or even particularly care about anything particular to associate yourself with alternative youth culture. You could actually buy your way into tween-age rebellion in a way that was antithetical to all past counter-cultural norms. All it took was a willingness to be engulfed by enormous pants.

49 comments:

MsLeventon said...

So very true... I could never afford JNCOs... and then I found a pair of 36"ers at TJ Max or a resale shop or something... I thought I was the coolest kid ever... especially with my oversized hoodie and my two-tone airwaves.

Anonymous said...

screw that! jnco's rock!

Anonymous said...

JNCO's....such a wild trend in the late 90s....oh so forgotten today. That was by far, one of the most original, non-"repeat-from-past-decades" fashion statements ever to exist. They were huge with the 90s ravers and skaters. I miss those. haha

Jade said...

Mannnnnnn I rocked my girly JNCOs!

Anonymous said...

I just found my jnco's and I was so happy!!! I will be sporting my jnco's again... maybe they will come back...LOVE THEM!!!

Anonymous said...

jncos were awsome comfortable, and lasted forever i still have 3 pairs in mint condition, they werent trendy so blow a goat

Anonymous said...

i still have some of mine in a box, the ball n chains,kangaroos, and one other one, i can still fit into the kangaroos maybe ill wear them tomarrow, since they are only middle sized legs not the biggest.
i think they were great and fond memories. what are you trying to say youths should Make thier own pants? we had to buy them somewhere, and not many kids wear brave enough to even be That different.
and to this day the kids i know who wore them with me are still the most awesome people (and employed) in thier 20 somethings

Alexandra said...

hmmm, basically most companys you buy your clothes from support mass consumerism and 'the man'..dont know why youre givin only jnco the bad rap here...probably because they supported the subculture? well there is a market for everything you know, this is a capitalistic society. you cant hate on the kids buying it or liking the style and making their own just as much as you cant hate on the preppies buying and loving their abercrombie. it just is what it is. i feel like a lot of these 'subculture' groups anywhere from goths, ravers, hippies, skaters, punks, etc... they all existed prior to media glam-ification of them, the 90s just happened to be the point in which those groups got highlighted and made money off of. you cant hate the kids for feeling they were finally 'noticed' by mainstreamers and now maybe 'up to par' with them and buying the product. it was perfect timing on the businessmen's part, and like all trends - they come to an end. subculture or not. i would have liked this post because it is somewhat informative, but when you cant be objective or leave even a smidge of room for people to joyfully reminisce on those days that they themselve may have participated in - you end up losing credibility and perspective as a writer. moreso just makes you look like a bitter ranter. so im sorry, you tried to make a point, but it failed and got swallowed up in the negative connotation. hopefully you'll practice more on that :/

Johnny said...

damn alexandra, thank you for putting this in perspective. you totally discredited him without even an insult. that takes talent. me however, id rather just insult him, so here goes...
SCREW YOU DOUCHEBAG!!! JNCO JEANS WERE FRICKIN AWESOME!

Lexxi Leigh said...

Alexandra here - well thanks johnny. I guess I just don't see a point in making fun of things in a degrading way. Hell I joke about my high school days all the time, I get a kick out of how crazy I dressed, but I'd prefer to look back on these times as a fun, happy time of exploration instead of feeling ashamed or embarassed...and I doubt other people want to be made to feel that way either when they google jnco's...that's all.

Anonymous said...

man i missed them so bad i wonder now how i never fell down skating with them, but in all honesty if anyone knows where i can buy them WITHOUT the big jnco logo please send me a email to oscargarcia135 @ hotmail thanks again

Anonymous said...

wat up juggalos... i f-ing love my jncos. i got a pair of pants and shorts, nd waer them all the time jncos are the sh**!!!!!!!!

Dr.Jared said...

dude, chicks in wide leg jeans are hot. even now.

Anonymous said...

wow man-..person.., you cracked that coconut of prefabricated pop culture wisdom, and poured the juice all over me. i feel really embarrassed that i did not so specifically associate that style with that very trend. that was the time though, 96/97, when the paradigm shifted so truly. MtV culture left the college campus and went to the jersey shore. Alternative gives way to "techno" and yeah, just like you said, it was the beginning of the constant that is now, the ideal of cool in youth culture being broadcast from the manufacturer, and into the consciousness of the youth, thus the youth really have no culture anymore. its a cult of personality.

you know what it was, for me, why i didnt pick up on the Jnco thing back then, i was in high school, and i was so far out of the zone of status quo and what not. i was into underground music and old shit generally, philosophy, comic book, sci fi and sabbath and the minutemen. When i saw those pants, all i thought about was how Samurai they were, and when i went to the mall and tried a pair on, i came out of the fitting room and snapped off a wicked roundhouse, the sound of whirling winds and thunder cracking with my lighning fast kick were the ultimate accoutrements. i gave my standard issue b.d.u.'s or ragged and cut up straight cut jeans a break a few days a week, because i just had my own style.

it was really weird though, all it took was a pair of pants for in crowd kids to start complimenting me on my wardrobe. Which i hated. i remember Jnco started branching out around 98, making ugly ass sneakers and hats and all kinds of shit. It was the beginning of the end for them. Kickwear were the really outrageous ones. the reason i came across this is because years after theyr'e all gone, (i didnt throw any of my old pants out i swear, i just lost all my old stuff when i moved cross country) i was searching the internet for a ridiculous pair of fat boys, or big rigs, just for around the house and in the park though.

that was a very fun read, thank you.

Vincent said...

I have ALL the JNCO's OLD school for sale vcalderone1@gmail.com hit me up fat boys big rigs pipes smoke stacks!!!

atom12 said...

shove your trend in your ass, i love jnco's and i still wear mine, i have two old school pairs of shorts from 93' they look cool they are comfortable and you can hold a shit load of stuff in the pockets i've worn them and washed them over a 1'000 times and they are still in good shape so fuck you with your wanna be bullshit u r

Anonymous said...

I loved those jeans. They were so comfortable. That brings me back. Where can you find those or kikwears nowadays?

Anonymous said...

op sounds pissed that he was a sucker as a kid....

I wore them because they were COMFORTABLE like MOST people did.

Maybe op forgot what it means to be a MAN and not a nut crusher wearing emo fag girl.

MEN choose their clothes based on COMFORT and sometimes armor value.

James - a.k.a Woody said...

I used to rock JNCO's all the time back in middle school and high school. Then I got married and my ex-wife had trashed all my JNCO memorabilia...bitch...anyways. I've been buying them every now and again off of eBay. They're a rare treasure from the 90's era. I hope they make a come back. I really do!

sixko said...

Really nice to see the responses to this. 'The degree of freedom' was explored in these jeans in more then just skate and dance cultures.

Very comfy pants, I'm thankful there are still several surviving pairs to choose from in my closet.

amerinorsk said...

Haha! Awesome! "Jnco" were "MY" brand. I wouldn't wear any other pants.

I was your typical "90's" skater. Fun times :)

GoldenWing said...

Jnco's will always be the most comfortable pants ever made! I am pissed that they have stopped making them for the most part and the only people who have them new and in stock charge $100 per pair... Anyone who bought Jncos has to admit they last forever, my friends and i still have ours and its been 9 years now and still in good condition!

Jeff said...

1) I never paid for them. If you paid for them , you were truly a poseur
2) only a handful of people in Iowa ever wore these, including myself
3)they weren't for 'gangsters' who wanted to be 'tough'. They were for RAVERS, back when techno was a distinct style of 'electronic' music in the mainstream

k, cleared some of that BS up.

MonsterKill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

Hahah, I remember wearing this in HS in '94 and made fun of, called Greg Brady (hahah?). Then next year, a lot more people had them. They were not the insanely huge JNCO's though, just the pretty big ones (never did like the ultra-huge pipes).

james said...

for anyone who is looking to get back to there old school selves, u can buy the JNCO kangaroos and mammoths as well as a bunch of different KIKWEAR modles at www.Bewild.com the jncos are $100 but the KIKS are still $60ish. i just bought a few pairs myself cuz i was reminiscing on my childhood/high school years and found that site. gotta tell ya i still love the feel of kiks n jnco even now im almost 30. takes me back instantly when i wear them.

h.g. said...

To all the commenters butthurt at this article:

Get over yourself. It's quite clear that your decade-long delusions of being hip, cutting edge, or somehow subversive have been completely undermined and you're reeling from it.

I understand it may be upsetting to realize that you are or have been a massive tool, but denial and hostility doesn't make a you innocent. It makes you a bitter asshole.

JNCO's were fucking stupid and so were you for buying into it.

digigirl02 said...

I remember those. As a child, I never understood why my parents wouldn't buy them.

Hollowsins said...

My son asked for JNCO jeans this year for school and he is 10.I guess some things are just always cool.They are much harder to find than they used to be..but you can bet I will get him some..screw what other people think.

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Chris said...

Godzooks!!!

gen x said...

im considering opening up a clothing shop down in fl where i live and resurrect jncos and kikwear possibly mcd and smp as well. And a website as well for those that cant visit the store.

ThriftStoreJunkie said...

I miss JNCOs SOOOOO much!!! They were so much better than the horrid skinny jeans that are so popular now. Guys are so much hotter in them, I'm not a fan of the nuts in your face look. My husband and I dated when we were in junior high, and when I met him he had long hair and wore jncos and was so freakin hot. I swear that's why when we reconnected later in life I ended up back with him. I jsut asked him if he would start wearing them again lol. I might get him a pair for Christmas! I don't care that we're almost 30.. I think he can still rock them :)

avantikads5 said...

I never heard about 'JNCO Jeans' before. Thanks for letting me know about this jeans.

DASH Phantom said...

Not a JNCO hater, still go out of my way to wear them today; however, food for thought for those of you that think that think they were original in the 90's, they too were throw backs to to the 30's surprisingly, it was a style called oxford pants with 32" bottoms, same cut and not bell bottomed, and it was common to wear them with/without the zoot suit top.

Ronnie Pant said...

How was Jnco Jeans a product of "the man"? The jeans that they made was BECAUSE of the styles on the street, not the other way around like this person asserts. What kids wore inspired Jncos not the Jncos got kids to wear their jeans. The design of the pants was even designed by grafitti artist Nuke from back in the day. The deep wide pockets were for putting spray cans in. Milo Jevah founder of Jncos went to amny grafitti artist like Nuke and asked what would you want in a pair of jeans? And thus we got Jncos. This blog was written by someone I really di not think really knew what was going on back then. Just like Cross Colours jeans which predated Jncos was a result of street/urban fashion not the other way around.

NATORi said...

I remember my older sister had a pair of these when i was 6 and i wanted a pair of my own, The 90's were awesome!

NoSolution said...

Can't rip on my JNCO's man.. Seriously, I still have a pair from 95 that haven't ripped through all the years I wore them. What.

JNCO tag "made in the USA".

I have a tough time finding that anymore.

Mark Harrison said...

I remember back in the day when kids were wearing JNCO that's Judge None Choose One. There weren't ravers then and the skaters who wore JNCO's were posers (wanna be skaters). This is because those pants would get caught in the wheels and you couldn't do fancy tricks without falling on your face. Still us skaters would wear them to the malls and when we would hang out. One thing for sure - they weren't part of any warped identity crisis. We just wore them because we liked them. At first we got a little flack from others our age but we didn't give a crap. It just wanted us to bend their antennas on their rich daddy cars. We weren't bad kids and we never focused on drugs like today. Yeah it was passed around once in a while but that is not what life was about. I wasn't part of the video game culture but those kids, some of them, were an off shoot of the groups I belonged to. And no, they weren't JNCO kids, they were just kids who chose to wear these pants and tended to gravitate towards others who didn't give them a hard time. I liked that era, if you may... where things seemed less complicated, where kids and people of all ages seemed to coexist better. I have two boys and when they play the add to encourage kids to get out more, I just Shaw my head in dismay and think what have we come to. I have lived in Arizona pretty much my whole life and just like the rains bring change so does population bring about change. It is my opinion that people are free spirited by nature and it is society that dampens that. I feel sorry for people who are like who I was. Have you ever seen yourself through the eyes of who you become. The bottom line is that we have free will and nobody should step on that except the Creator of the Universe. Recently I bought a pair of JNCO pants and to be honest... they are truely the most comfortable pants. To my knowledge they are not manufactured anymore but I have a small seed planted in my mind a small notion if you may to carry on that tradition. I don't think I have to win the lottery to do so. And if I do it won't be much different only better. Maybe if everyone who reads this throws some thought this way maybe I will submit to that notion. What I have learned in life is that life itself is short and because of that fact, try to enjoy it and not get caught up in the hype, the crazy notions of all the world possessions being more important than what we truely are - humans with a passion for life and to love each other, truely love like caring and thinking about the next guy instead of thinking about yourself. (I am not saying that is what you do) Have fun, live life, love and wear your JNCO's if you please, I do!

Jeff She said...

And now, 15-20 years later, I still own and wear these awesome pants, ( the more 'conservative' styles ).
A few of them are mine from the 90's, but many are bought vintage online from where ever I can find them.
One of the best things about still wearing them, is coming across people from my 90's generation who notice the "J" on the front pocket or the "JNCO" on the back and with a glowing rememberance of thier past ask rhetorically "Are those Jnco's.. Holy cow, I haven't seen those since.. wow, the 90's.."
So I post this as tribute, not to the 'Man' whose marketing hit a soft spot in many of my fellow brothers and sisters in the 90's, But as a tribute to product that 20 years later, is still around (if a bit underground and unthought of), but more importantly, to a product that brought us together, and keeps us together.

Remember kids,
"IF IT DOESN'T COVER EVERY LACE, IT DOESN'T BELONG ON YOUR WAIST!!"
-JNCO

Diapason said...

They say that fashion trends come and go in cycles. If that's true, then look out, 'cos KikWear has started production of a whole new line of HUGE wide-legged pants! They've even brought out updated versions of their 50-inch and, yes, 69-inch bottom jeans! Interested? Go to www.kikwear.com. They've just started cranking these styles out in quantity, so you probably won't find them at Hot Topic (like they used to be) any time soon--unless, of course, you ask for them!

Boondock Beasley said...

I got my black Jester 168's, and I get random compliments on them all the time. These jeans were just comfortable as fuck and they never busted, i really hope they come back around one day, FUCK TRIPP PANTS LOL. 90's kids rule

Josh Hulgan said...

I still got a pair of the Q ambients that were leet as hell. Werent many alternatives to the 1st gen jnco line up, and these were the most comfortable, not too bold, and much bigger. My favorite of all.

Vice President Rich Rivas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
earl emmanuel said...

Difference that was it...period. if you could put any other pair of jeans up that could bring half as much memory as jncos and kik wears can spark then you have something...

Brandon Eardman said...

I wore the shit out of.my jncos in the 90s now im 34 and if i was to put a pair on my kids would.have.a stroke they still say there ashamed to tell there friends that there dad wore jncos.airwalks and played guitar in a grunge band lol man i feel old

Mike Colletta Images said...

My first experience with JNCO's was in southern California around 91-92' they were popular in the Mexican community along with Dickies and Ben Davis. This was well before they were 50" pipes and huge pockets with kangaroos. They were at the time super baggy though and you would buy them big, cut off the bottoms so they almost went over your Adidas "Shell Toes" fold them up and staple the hem. You would wear a super long boy scout type belt and let it hang to your knees. That was the style in LA. Also the undercut haircut or the long chelsea were the only way to rock your hair. Keep in mind I was in 5th grade.

My parents then relocated to the suburbs of Atlanta in 94' and no one wore baggy clothes. Everyone wore Umbros and Sambas and played soccer. My haircut was super weird and my clothes were super baggy. I guess around 96-97 the store "Merry Go Round" made it's way to GA and started carrying Jnco's. Still they didn't have all those cheesy patches and huge knee pockets. That was when aggressive rollerblading became big and they all wore huge pants. Jnco's then got super popular in the late 90's and got over the top with their leg sizing, pockets, and characters. IMO they sold out and if you were still wearing them you were a poser ;) the cool kids were now going to Raves and wearing UFO's and Caffiene pants. Ahhh the 90's...

Mike Colletta Images said...

My first experience with JNCO's was in southern California around 91-92' they were popular in the Mexican community along with Dickies and Ben Davis. This was well before they were 50" pipes and huge pockets with kangaroos. They were at the time super baggy though and you would buy them big, cut off the bottoms so they almost went over your Adidas "Shell Toes" fold them up and staple the hem. You would wear a super long boy scout type belt and let it hang to your knees. That was the style in LA. Also the undercut haircut or the long chelsea were the only way to rock your hair. Keep in mind I was in 5th grade.

My parents then relocated to the suburbs of Atlanta in 94' and no one wore baggy clothes. Everyone wore Umbros and Sambas and played soccer. My haircut was super weird and my clothes were super baggy. I guess around 96-97 the store "Merry Go Round" made it's way to GA and started carrying Jnco's. Still they didn't have all those cheesy patches and huge knee pockets. That was when aggressive rollerblading became big and they all wore huge pants. Jnco's then got super popular in the late 90's and got over the top with their leg sizing, pockets, and characters. IMO they sold out and if you were still wearing them you were a poser ;) the cool kids were now going to Raves and wearing UFO's and Caffiene pants. Ahhh the 90's...

Mike Colletta Images said...

My first experience with JNCO's was in southern California around 91-92' they were popular in the Mexican community along with Dickies and Ben Davis. This was well before they were 50" pipes and huge pockets with kangaroos. They were at the time super baggy though and you would buy them big, cut off the bottoms so they almost went over your Adidas "Shell Toes" fold them up and staple the hem. You would wear a super long boy scout type belt and let it hang to your knees. That was the style in LA. Also the undercut haircut or the long chelsea were the only way to rock your hair. Keep in mind I was in 5th grade.

My parents then relocated to the suburbs of Atlanta in 94' and no one wore baggy clothes. Everyone wore Umbros and Sambas and played soccer. My haircut was super weird and my clothes were super baggy. I guess around 96-97 the store "Merry Go Round" made it's way to GA and started carrying Jnco's. Still they didn't have all those cheesy patches and huge knee pockets. That was when aggressive rollerblading became big and they all wore huge pants. Jnco's then got super popular in the late 90's and got over the top with their leg sizing, pockets, and characters. IMO they sold out and if you were still wearing them you were a poser ;) the cool kids were now going to Raves and wearing UFO's and Caffiene pants. Ahhh the 90's...

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