For reasons too complicated to get into right now, it was very popular for a brief flicker in late-‘90s time to wear entire jeans’ worth of fabric on each leg. JNCO, the brand best known for perpetuating the pipeline-wide trend of ravers’ choice denims whose bottoms ballooned as big as 60 inches wide, famously did almost $200 million in revenue in 1998 only to fall precipitously from there (Racked reported that the number was half that in 1999). And the brand become the provenance of Kohl’s and Juggalos. They came back in 2015 via Chinese company Guotai Litian Group, but then that license was terminated in 2018.
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And now they’re back again. And they’re expensive as hell.
Last week, JNCO re-relaunched with eight styles whose prices range from $225 to $350* (the latter for “limited quantity,” “collectors’ piece” pairs). According to a Mixmag feature, the relaunch is a result of Milo Revah, who founded the brand alongside his brother Jacques Yaakov Revah in 1985, buying back the license. His daughter Camilla is working alongside him and the brand’s offerings are being marketed as unisex.
To put the $350 price tag of the Big Rig 26" Jet Black variety of 2019 JNCOs pictured above into perspective, at the height of their popularity the original jeans were sold in mall stores like Hot Topic, PacSun, and JC Penney. I found a piece from the November 17, 1997, issue of the now-defunct fashion rag DNR that said the brand’s then-new reflective and glow-in-the-dark collections were going for $65 to $75 a piece. The 2015 relaunch offered JNCOs that cost as much as $140. By 2017, though, there were varieties going for less than $70. Meanwhile in 2015, Buzzfeed found a host of vintage JNCOs being resold on the internet for prices in the low hundreds, which the site found to be “surprising,” according to the headline of the piece documenting these sales.
So the new JNCOs have been set at highway-robbery vintage resell price points. JNCO at one point stood for “Judge None Choose One” (there have been several official things the abbreviation stood for over the years), but sorry stovepipes, I’m judging: $350 is too damn expensive for pants they couldn’t give away a few years ago! The cost doesn’t quite near Balenciaga’s $755 wide leg riff that was offered in 2017 and seemed very clearly inspired by JNCOs, but it’s absurd regardless. $350 for jeans that you cannot wear on city streets with sandals lest you sweep up all the dirt in your wake and return home looking like you were walking around in fireplaces all day long? In this economy???
*Update (10:51 p.m.): Earlier this evening, an email signed by JNCO’s Milo & Camilla Revah, went out to its mailing list announcing they had dropped the prices (by about $100, it turns out) of all of the pieces in their new denim collection. Here is the text in its entirety:
“We have heard you. We have listened.
Thank you for staying with us on the JNCO journey.
We are back in business for the long game and want to retain the quality and sustainability of the product. We discovered, to our dismay, that the business has changed in our absence. The factories that we work with are few and far between because of the complexity of the product and we demand an extremely high standard of excellence. We use premium materials and want to ensure at the same time that we are not hurting the environment. We also are committed to paying fair wages to our entire team, and to those who work in our factories. All of our tops and most of the denim custom processes are done here in Los Angeles, even though some of the denim sewing is done in one of our original factories in Mexico. The fabrics we use are also customized to our specifications. This is not regular weight and weave— it is old school JNCO denim, and we want to keep it that way.
We proudly launched a beautiful line of originals, and we have been developing other styles to release in the near future. We have heard you and we have listened. All weekend, we worked on all possibilities to get the prices lowered. We have now updated the site with those prices. To those of you who have already placed orders, we will either refund you the difference or issue you a store credit (your choice).
Best wishes from all of us here at JNCO,
Milo & Camilla Revah”