There are user-friendly and non-user-friendly fabrics (if you don't believe me, ask anyone who has had to wear an ermine and velvet robe) … and then there is denim. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, adaptable and multipurpose, it is welcome at any fashion party. And so it has been ever since it evolved from being no more than a cheap cloth worn by workers in Nimes in the 1880s and women on dude ranches in the 1930s, to the fabric of rebellious youth it has become. This evolution happened in the 1950s, when style renegades Marlon Brando, James Dean and Jean Seberg wore it, and in doing so, made it irresistible to accountants, estate agents and secretaries who had never rebelled in their life and felt that denim brought out their wild side.
Today, denim's gift is its eloquence, speaking as it does of sex, freedom, urban toughness, rural practicality and any other attitude you care to mention. This is why designers love it. Starting with Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood in the late 1970s, continuing with Calvin Klein in the early 1980s, Earl jeans at the end of the 1990s and a seemingly limitless host of other brands today, fashion folk know there is money to be made from such a fabric. And whatever is done to it, denim still looks fresh, cool and absolutely now.
There's only one problem. This fabric isn't just about sex. It IS sex. But only if the figure is right. Bulging thighs and generous bums look ghastly in denim, which is why I would like to see an impartial DRV (denim rear view) test in every store, so that it is sold only to the deserving.

(First published May 2003).