Young people have been wearing jeans since the 1950s, thanks to the influence of jeans-wearing movie stars like Marlon Brando, James Dean and Paul Newman.
But designer jeans didn’t catch on until the late 1970s.
Designer jeans, made for the dance floor and the roller-disco rink, were tighter, sexier, and more sophisticated. Their hallmarks were instantly recognizable: a covetable name and logo on the back pocket, a high price, and a curve-hugging fit.
And what brand went on to become one of the most popular designer jean brands of the 1980s?
Jordache (pronounced JOR-dash).
The Jordache Jeans label was created in New York City in 1978 by Israeli brothers Josef (Joe), Raphael (Ralph) and Abraham (Avi) Nakash.
The word Jordache was created from the “Jo” of Joe, the “R” of Ralph, the “D” of David (Ralph’s eldest son), the “A” of Avi, and sh-sound of Nakash.
The brothers had built up a small chain of stores selling brand-name jeans at discounted prices during the ’70s, but during the New York City blackout of 1977, their largest store was looted and burned down. With the insurance settlement, they decided to start manufacturing their own jeans.
But designer jeans by Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, Chic, Sergio Valente, Sasson, Zena, Bon Jour, and others were already on the market. To differentiate themselves, the bothers launched a controversial advertising campaign for Jordache Jeans in January of 1979.
Banned by all three major television networks at first, the 1979 30-second spot featured a topless model on horseback clad only in Jordache and accompanied by the jingle “You’ve got the look I want to know better.”
The ad may have been too lewd for the big networks, “but the independent New York stations carried it, and within weeks Jordache was a hit among teenage girls.”
And so, by the start of the 1980s, Jordache was huge.
So huge that it became a baby name.
Jordache first popped up on the SSA’s baby name list in 1980:
- 1982: unlisted
- 1981: 8 baby boys named Jordache
- 1980: 12 baby boys named Jordache [debut]
- 1979: unlisted
- 1978: unlisted
But the baby name Jordache didn’t catch on. It made the list three more times during the ’80s, then dropped off, never to return.
I find it really interesting that Jordache, a fashion brand, was use more often as a boy name than as a girl name. (I have found a handful of females with the name, so they do exist.)
What do you think — does the name “Jordache” seem masculine or feminine to you?
- Designer Denim – Voguepedia
- History of Jordache Enterprises, Inc. – Funding Universe
- Lee, Laura. Broke Is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life. Philadelphia: Running Press Books, 2010.
- Whatever Happened to Jordache?