The 80s: 8 Denim Brands That Defined A Decade

The 80s were a simpler time. Looking back, it’s fascinating to see the top denim brands back then and where they are now. Some have disappeared altogether, while others continue to dominate the market. Here’s a look at some of the most popular jeans brands from that decade and how they held up to today’s fashion trends.

Levi’s

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For decades, Levi’s jeans have been popular in America, but they blew up in the 1980s. The ’80s was a decade for stylish and comfortable clothing–brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger produced chic denim pieces. And of course, Levi’s were front and center releasing iconic styles such as the “mom jean” and the “stone wash” jean.

These styles defined an era and are still popular today, with new takes on them constantly popping up on runways and in stores. The brand itself has also evolved, launching sustainability initiatives and collaborations with high fashion designers like Virgil Abloh. Whether it’s a pair of vintage ’80s Levi’s or a fresh take on an old classic, this iconic brand is still going strong.

Calvin Klein

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While Calvin Klein may be best known for their modern-day designer clothing, in the 1980s they were also a powerhouse in the world of denim. Their iconic “CK” logo was splashed across high-waisted, vintage jeans that everyone wanted to be seen wearing. These jeans were worn by celebrities and fashion icons alike and became a symbol of the decade’s glamorous excess. 

Today, Calvin Klein jeans remain popular among trendsetters and fashionistas, with updated cuts and styles sprinkled with a touch of nostalgia. Whether rocking a vintage pair or embracing the latest iteration, Calvin Klein jeans are still a go-to choice for those looking to make a statement with their denim game.

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Jordache

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While Levi’s may be the first brand that comes to mind when thinking about iconic jeans from the 1980s, Jordache was also a major player in the denim game. Popular among preppy teens and fashion-forward adults alike, these jeans had a signature horseshoe emblem on the back pocket and were often worn with rolled-up cuffs. 

Even though Jordache lost mainstream popularity in the 1990s, the brand has experienced a resurgence due to the return of vintage clothing styles. This year, they even joined forces with denim icon Brooke Shields to release a campaign ad showing off the brand’s sexy and bold style, which goes to show that Jordache is still relevant decades later.

Gloria Vanderbilt

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Gloria Vanderbilt jeans are a truly timeless piece. During the 1980s, these were “the jeans” to have–every trendsetter and fashionista had a pair (or several!). The iconic swan logo was plastered on everything from denim jackets to accessories. But what made these jeans truly stand out was the fit – they hugged every curve just right and were available in a wide range of sizes, ensuring that women of all shapes and sizes could rock the look. 

While they may not be as popular as they once were, Gloria Vanderbilt’s legacy lives on–her son, Anderson Cooper, even brought back the brand in 2017, updating the style for a modern audience

So whether you’re digging through your parents’ attic or looking for a vintage gem online, keep an eye out for these classic jeans – you never know when you might come across your pair of nostalgic goodness.

Guess

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When it comes to iconic denim brands, Guess stands out. The brand first gained popularity during the 1980s with its signature triangle logo and fitted, high-waisted jeans styled with rolled cuffs. What set Guess apart was their willingness to push boundaries through edgy advertising campaigns featuring models like Claudia Schiffer and Anna Nicole Smith. These ads helped cement Guess as a go-to denim brand for those looking to make a statement. 

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Although Guess’ styles have changed with the times, their original cool, edgy attitude from the 80s is still retained in today’s designs. Vintage Guess pieces are now coveted by both fashionistas and celebrities alike. Consequently, it seems that the brand’s legacy is stronger than ever.

Bugle Boy

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While we all may be familiar with more modern brands like Jordache and Guess, don’t forget about Bugle Boy. At the peak of their popularity, their unique style of jeans was highly coveted and set the trends for young men in the 80s. The easily recognizable blue, red, and yellow logo often seen on the back pocket of these jeans even made a couple of cameos in iconic films of the era such as The Karate Kid and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 

The brand was founded by Dr. William Mow, who wanted to create affordable high-quality jeans for everyone. And boy did they deliver – they had all sorts of styles, from parachute pants, cargo pants, and denim jeans in various colors (before that was cool), and were known for their durable fabric and unique detailing. 

While Bugle Boy may have faded from past decades, there’s been a resurgence of interest in the brand as vintage lovers reclaim these gems from thrift stores. Next time you’re out shopping for some new denim, consider adding a little throwback flair with a pair of Bugle Boys.

Sasson

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Sasson jeans were hugely popular during the 1980s and for good reason. The denim brand, owned by VF Corporation, featured tight-fitting styles that were a departure from the baggy, relaxed fits that dominated previous decades.

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Although Sasson jeans may not be as widely worn today, their influence can still be seen in current trends. Skinny jeans, for example, can trace their roots back to the tight styles popularized by Sasson in the 80s. 

Ultimately, Sasson’s place in fashion history is secure – and thanks to vintage clothing stores and online marketplaces, you can still add a piece of 1980s style to your wardrobe today.

DKNY

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If you were a trendsetter in the 80s, then chances are you owned a pair of DKNY jeans. The brand hit its heyday during that decade, known for its stylish yet comfortable fits.

Even though the brand has evolved, its denim remains a staple in many closets today. DKNY continues to offer classic cuts like straight leg and high-rise, as well as on-trend styles like ankle length and distressed patches.

The 80s saw an increase in the number of great denim brands, so everyone could find a perfect pair of jeans whether they were looking for a tight or loose fit. While some have gone bankrupt since then, popular denim brands such as Levi’s and Calvin Klein are still around today. The next time you go shopping for jeans, think about trying one of these old-school brands instead.