The biggest hits Keep coming from the first things. Platform boots, hair clips, purses, cargo pants – they’ve all made a resurgence in the past few years. And so, inevitably, low-rise jeans will inevitably join this impressive mix of influencers such as Jillian Fox, Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, Paloma Elsaesser and Kendall Jenner. Perhaps none more so than Ms. Fox, who, along with her low status to date, reportedly posted a personal dress code explanation that forced Lisa Keene to do her pants.
Teenagers who are obsessed with this look often buy oversized jeans and let them hang from their waist. And there’s a key difference between this low-end iteration of today and its predecessor from the early 2000s. Back then, the skinny-burning-legs fit prevailed. Today, Alessia Elkaim, founder of Los Angeles-based brand Meow, says loose style rules. “I like low and bag. It’s sensual but the bag is balanced,” she said.
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Designers who dropped their waists for spring include Simone Porte-Jacques, a man who likes to exaggerate; Stella McCartney, who styled model Bella Hadid’s exposed hipbones with diamante cutouts; And Glenn Martens’ diesel, low-rise, previously revealed brand paparazzi photos. Perhaps most significantly, or perhaps most dramatically, in his Fall 2023 collection for Céline, Hedi Slimane returned to the lean, understated look he helped popularize in the outdoors. Mr. Slimane’s rock ‘n’ roll-forever aesthetic was so iconic at the time, so his re-embrace of tight, drape-slung pants can’t be ignored.
But in the early 1960s, it was consumers, not designers, who created the first low-cut jeans. “Jeans became a canvas of self-expression at this point,” says Levi’s historian Tracy Panek. “We keep some pairs in our archive that are cut to the waist. We’ve started to give our customers the low-end to give them the fit they want.”
“Alexander McQueen’s ’90s ‘bumster’ trousers sat too low and featured what is commonly referred to as ‘pipe crack’. “
The idea of showing a little midriff wasn’t new – 1930s and 40s evening wear and beachwear played with the idea. But America has never seen streetwear with an empty midsection before. After the waistband came down, the fashion industry and women themselves struggled to keep up. When Women’s Wear Daily interviewed teenage girls about their fashion choices in 1966, they complained that the belts for their well-grown wives showed more than what was then called “hip hugging.”
This image of denim dominated the ’60s and early ’70s, placing it in the pantheon of glory through its association with rock stars such as Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin. That inferiority complex was played out again in the 90s when a young Central Saint Martins graduate named Lee Alexander McQueen showed off what is commonly known as a “pipe crack” by wearing his trousers too low. In this move, McQueen, a spine-based body sexist, gives the middle finger to establishing an untapped fashion for such a sleazy hint. Madonna in 2010 She introduced them to the mainstream in 1994 when she wore McQueen pants for an MTV commercial.
From there, low-rise jeans proliferated, eventually leading to early-aughts style as vaguely recognizable as spray tans and lower-back tattoos, a misogynistic notion of the era,” Trump stamps. What sets those jeans apart from pre-’70s jeans: Denim’s high elastane-to-cotton ratio allows for both a low and tight fit. Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears have taken the trend to extremes, though let’s face it—almost every pair of jeans on the market sits at or below hip level.
The fact that Ms. Spears is seen as a victim of celebrity culture puts those shockingly low-riding jeans images in a different light. She now reflects a growing recognition that the early 00s were not an easy time to be a young woman. That’s why many millennials and Gen Xers cringe at the idea of low-rise returns; Today, the break in the language is triggered.
No revival is really a copy. “What we’re seeing now is what we would call mid-rises a few years ago,” says Jill Guenza, Levi’s vice president of women’s design. “They give you more coverage [than the low-rise jeans of the 2000s]. And there is a wide range of body types that wear them. Well, yes and no. Levi’s low-rise styles offer up to 34 styles combined, but the low-rise models on the spring and fall runways have been almost as slim as the standard of the past two decades.
The intervening years haven’t changed everyone’s perspective. When Dua Lipa posted a photo on her Instagram account of her New Year’s Eve look, a sparkly Ludovic de Saint-Cernin mini dress that skimmed low in the back and thong underwear, Ms. Hilton said, “That’s hot”—a Y2K catchphrase.
Hip, hip, hooray!
These low-but-not-too-low jeans hit the spot
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