Back in May we teamed up with Bossa to write a piece for their Blue Magazine about the a phenomenon sweeping the internet, the ‘jeanification’ of everyday items.

Every industry comes with its own set of inside jokes, whether you work in tech, hospitality,  fashion or beyond, there are some things only your industry peers will understand. For us it’s Jemes, aka jean-memes. Jemes is the art of taking everyday items and making them denim, for example the Jouch, the Jurger and the Jasketball and it hasn’t taken long for those jemes to turn into real life objects and products.

Over recent years, the ‘Jeanification’ trend has spiraled beyond the realms of an internet joke and into other arenas, where culture intersects with product design. What started as an ironic nod to the past, or a laugh shared between denimheads has now evolved into something much more significant. “Society is currently at the peak — or nadir, depending on your perspective — of a weirdo denim obsession” notes Jake Silbert of Highsnobiety.

But it’s more than just jemes, irony and the need for a good laugh driving this movement. In essence, the jeanification of everyday objects represents a fusion of nostalgia, creativity, and a desire to challenge the conventional. Harkening back to the early 2000s when denim accessories and objects were becoming all the rage, the cheesy and nostalgic elements of that time period have resurfaced through today’s contemporary lens. 

Ssense X Bless, Jeanified Objects, May 2023.

It all started in June 2018 with Levi’s iconic collaboration with Nike, releasing a pair of denim Air Jordans. Despite the cheesy nod to the noughties, this shoe became an overnight icon, and inspired a whole movement of denim footwear, refreshing its decade long repugnant reputation, and returning it to a coveted fashion item. Coupled with a growing online community of bedroom makers, the customisable nature of denim simultaneously engaged a whole swathe of sneaker remakers experimenting with destruction, sashiko stitch, and more notable denim design techniques on modern styles.

The rise of denim footwear and accessories no doubt inspired Y Project to explore their version of the denim Joot in 2021, a not-so-subtle nod to flashy, early 00’s fashion and a moment that paved the way for other brands like Diesel and Saint Laurent, trickling down to the likes of Jerffry Campbel and Steve Madden later that year. Since then, luxury brands like Bottega Veneta, Dior, Givenchy, Chloe, Jacquemus, Fendi, Loewe, Balenciaga, Versace, and many more have embraced the trend, incorporating denim accessories into their 2023 collections. This implementation of denim at a high-end level has sparked a new wave of interest in denim as a directional, on trend material for products outside the realm of classic jeanswear, officially taking it out of the ironic y2k aesthetic category and placing it back in the world of designer goods. 

In a moment of denim serendipity, just when Levi’s were releasing their denim Jordans, Dior were reacquainting themselves with one of their most coveted 00’s accessories, the Saddle bag. Originally making its runway debut under John Galliano’s reign at Dior in the Spring/Summer 2000 collection, its off-kilter, ugly-chic aesthetic fit perfectly into the noughties zeitgeist. In 2018 Maria Grazia Chiuri reissued the Saddle for Fall/Winter ‘18, including a denim patchwork model. Kim Jones followed suit and incorporated the bag into Dior Menswear in 2018. In the 5 years since that re-issue, the resale price of a noughties era denim saddle bag has skyrocketed from $150 to $1000+, with resale shops selling out constantly.

Y/Project 'Joot' 2020.
Diesel's SS23 'Pantaboot' debuts in September 2021.

A couple of years after denim accessories emerged back on the scene, we collectively leaned into meme territory and images of denim dinner sets, duvet covers and even jean clad staircases were shared online. Suddenly an explosion of ‘denim everything’ was upon us, providing the perfect storm for creatives to begin riffing. In a timely coincidence, just as the Covid pandemic hit in March of 2020, London College of Fashion students were asked to recreate everyday objects out of denim. Denim toilet paper won the day, at a time in history where many will remember the inability to score toilet paper from their local supermarket as the whole world hoarded in a state of pandemic panic.

And perhaps it was the pandemic itself that propelled the jeanification trend further. During 2020, the denim world was starved of entertainment and connection, collectively we weren’t buying into fashion products (aside from tie dye sweat suits perhaps) but certainly not heels and handbags, and we had a whole lot of time on our hands staring at household objects. As the mundane mixed with the imaginative, accounts like ‘Jables’ and ‘Legboot’ were formed, creating denim leg tables and jean burgers in a bid for likes and recognition which could turn into brand deals and collaborations. 

Through this playful jeanification of everyday objects, a new appreciation for the ordinary has emerged. Items that we often take for granted, like chairs, bags, and even household appliances, have been transformed into denim-clad works of art. This trend encourages us to see the beauty in the everyday, to not only celebrate the objects that accompany us in our lives but honor and preserve them, a sentiment lost to the modern era of, ‘buy, break, replace’ consumer mentalities.

Jables, founded in 2021.
LFC student 'Denim Toilet Paper' project, 2020.

Additionally, this trend has been fueled by the sheer amount of second-hand and unused denim present in the world. For years pinterest has been full of denim DIY’s for the novice looking to repurpose their old jeans into new items. Today these objects are a far cry away from the rag rugs, placemats and denim quilts that have amassed on etsy and similar market places. Take Ssense X Bless’ most recent collection, ‘Jeansified Objects’ where a denim vacuum will cost you upwards of $2000 or artist Marten Baas’s entire jet plane wrapped in denim for G-star at Milan design week. Denim art installations have captivated audiences with their unique and imaginative use of the fabric but Harry Nuriev’s Denim House at Carpenter works Gallery in Paris was one of the most poignant recent examples, accompanied by its own rendered experience of the virtual denim world this house exists in. 

Overall, the jeanification of everyday objects represents a convergence of nostalgia, humor, technological advancements, and sustainability. It highlights the innovative ways in which designers are reimagining denim and incorporating it into various aspects of our lives. From high-end fashion collections to art installations and upcycled creations, denim has always been a canvas for creativity and self-expression, breathing new life into an item that was once taken for granted.

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