The baby name Wrangler debuted on the U.S. baby name charts in 1987.
So here’s the mystery: What caused the debut? Was the name inspired by Wrangler Jeans, or by the Jeep Wrangler? Or both?
Wrangler Jeans, which have been around since the 1940s, were available in trendy, tight-fitting “designer” styles during the ’80s (just like Jordache and Murjani). Wrangler commercials from that time period (e.g., 1, 2, 3) all featured the same catchy “live it to the limit in Wrangler” theme song.
The Jeep Wrangler was introduced in 1986. The Jeep Wrangler ads weren’t as eye-catching as the Wrangler Jeans ads, but it’s hard to overlook the correlation between the year the car came out and the year the name debuted, and the fact that new cars with decent names often do inspire baby name debuts (e.g., Chevelle, Allante, Miata).
My opinion? I think both products had some influence here.
A small number babies born prior to 1987 were named Wrangler, and I’m sure a few of them were named with the Jeans in mind. (Favorite example: James Levi Wrangler Dunlap, born in 1984.)
But I think the Jeep Wrangler is what gave the name enough of a boost in 1987 for us to see it on the baby charts.
What do you think?
(Interestingly, the baby name Wrangler was only on the SSA’s list once in the ’80s and a few more times during the ’90s, but it has appeared consistently on the charts since the turn of the century. Its best showing so far was in 2011, with 16 baby boys named Wrangler that year.)
In 1930, a man named B. K. Murjani left India to start a clothing company in China.
The Murjani company was focused on manufacturing until the mid-1960s, when B.K.’s son Mohan joined and transitioned the company to designer brand development and marketing.
In 1977, Murjani teamed up with heiress Gloria Vanderbilt to launch one of the first designer jean brands, Gloria Vanderbilt.
The company poured a lot of money into building the brand. According to the Murjani Group website, Gloria Vanderbilt “was perhaps the first apparel brand to be advertised in marketing channels such as buses, phone booths and TV.” Gloria herself was featured in many of the television commercials.
By 1979, sales of GV jeans were massive.
In 1980, the company started using younger celebrities to endorse the brand. They put out print ads featuring baseball player Reggie Jackson and TV commercials featuring Blondie singer Debbie Harry.
We’ve already seen that advertisements (and especially TV commercials) have the power to influence baby name trends (e.g., Calizza, Dijonnaise), so it’s not surprising that 1980 is also the year the baby name Murjani debuted on the SSA’s baby name list:
1982: 6 baby girls named Murjani
1981: 10 baby girls named Murjani
1980: 8 baby girls named Murjani [debut]
Like Jordache, though, Murjani dropped off the list after only a few years.
I don’t know what the etymology of the surname Murjani is, but Mohan Murjani has been quoted as saying that he has “sometimes mistaken as an Italian because of [his] family name.”
Duttagupta, Ishani. “Indian style guru: Building global lifestyle brands.” Economic Times 15 May 2008.
Hellman, Peter. “Sic Transit Gloria.” New York Magazine 15 Feb. 1993: 34-41.