The denim jacket has always been a symbol of edgy youthfulness

The denim jacket has always been a symbol of edgy youthfulness
Meet Keith Vlahakis, a Cape Town based pop artist, illustrator, letterer, and graphic designer.

Wear it over jeans, leggings, palazzos - in different colours: black, White, blue - and styles: ripped, smartly stitched to the fit. the denim jacket is all the rage this year. Wear it over jeans, leggings, palazzos - in different colours: black, White, blue - and styles: ripped, smartly stitched to the fit. the denim jacket is all the rage this year.



By Rachel Dawson

Published: Sun 14 Jan 2018, 10:25 AM

Last updated: Sun 14 Jan 2018, 12:59 PM

Every year marketers try to ring in the basic needs of consumers and create an item to cash in on the same. In 2017, people searched for authenticity - in lifestyle, work and glamour. This search for originality, trustworthiness and genuineness has led to the re-emergence of the denim jacket; it's edgy, cool and classic.
This fashion staple had a humble beginning, and was first worn by the working class. Since then, it has served as a style essential worn by musicians, dancers and celebrities. As the iconic blue jacket recently celebrated its 130th anniversary, this is a good moment to reflect on the attributes of the true-blue fabric that has always won our favour regardless of the passage of time. It's universal in appeal and can be customised in innumerable ways. Moreover, it exudes youthfulness.
The denim jacket was created by Levi Strauss, founder of denim company, Levi's. The story goes that during the peak of the Gold Rush, cowboys, railway engineers, and miners all stood in line for a pair of Levi's. Strauss built on the popularity of his brand and released a top (with horizontal seams to hold down pleats, which could be removed to give extra room to breathe) called the Triple Pleat Blouse to match the lowers. This was the start of the Levi's legacy and the rest is history.
Keith Vlahakis, pop artist, illustrator, and graphic designer, describes himself as a huge fan of the fashion, music, movies and cartoons from the 1980s. Vlahakis, who has customised more than 100 denim jackets, says, "It is a clothing item that encapsulates the '80s perfectly. Now, the denim jacket is making a comeback due to the revitalised interest in streetwear of the '80s and '90s." He adds that denim jackets "add a certain persona to the one who puts them on. In old movies, the blue overall is what the rebel, the renegade and social wallflower character wears. Even the girl next door has her denim jacket." The graphic designer says that the denim jacket as a fashion symbol represents youthfulness and youth culture, which is free-spirited and expressive. "I feel that even older people could tell you that back in their day, they had their denim jackets. This fashionably iconic garment has represented youthfulness for many decades, and is here to stay," he says.
Customised denim jackets allow people to express their true personality and wear their hearts on their sleeves (quite literally). "The rst denim jacket I customised was for myself. I added various retro patches that reminded me of my childhood. Think: Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, the Misfits band, Ghostbusters, Pac-Man, and Run-D.M.C. Mr. Price then approached me for an activation and illustration project for denim jackets for the press as well as influencers across the country. In total, I think I drew on over 60 denim jackets this year. I depicted a famous phrase or quote with my own '80s style and a retro pop-art aesthetic," says Vlahakis. It is possible to glam up any- thing at home on a budget with customisation.
Vlahakis has a word for those new to the world of denim and personalisation. He says, "I'd encourage someone to customise their jacket because it will be something that's one of a kind. In this age, where everyone can buy what everyone else has, who wouldn't want something stylishly unique?"

Hues of a fashionably iconic garment

On screen, the denim jacket has appeared as a staple on the infamous John Bender from The Breakfast Club. It's impossible to think of him without his denim jacket. Similarly, Riverdale's Jughead Jones (when not in his Serpent attire) never leaves his house without his (read: worn out) Sherpa jacket. Denim jackets feature in the closets of our favourite celebrities, too. Take, for instance, Gigi Hadid or Justin Bieber, who've been spotted in rough blue hues, which they have worn on more than one occasion.
The denim jacket manages to retain its position as edgy and youthful all the way from 1887 through 2018. This is part of the reason why the French brand A.P.C. by Jean Touitou reinvents the jacket each year. Its 2017 Fall Runway Collection showcased jean jackets worn as a cape with one button around the neck, an over-sized zipper with a delicate white belt around or backwards (literally) and bun- dled as a scarf - in unimaginable ways. These tweaks add a fresh breath to the rugged blue jacket with each passing year.
Kanye West wore a custom Balmain denim jacket to the Met Gala in 2016. The jacket was dyed, embroidered and bejewelled with stones and pearls by Olivier Rousteing, creative director, Balmain. While Mrs. West's dress that mirrored a disco ball seemed time consuming
to create, it was Kanye's shiny top that took more hours as per Rousteing. Fashion experts refer to the denim jacket as the new hoodie, which rings into the need for now-stalgia, referring to the act of young people reliving their recent memories.

Select the perfect denim jacket

There's no foolproof way to nd the perfect t. These simple tips will ensure that you make the perfect purchase for you. Ensure that the jacket's cut ts exactly at your waist - if it's longer, it might look like an untucked shirt, and if it's too short, it will end up looking quite feminine (unless that's the look you're aiming towards, of course).
The colour of your denim jacket is equally important. As a rule of thumb, light blue is always a good idea. Dark blue can help you achieve a smart and polished look. Wear dark denim with formal shoes to add to the edginess of the outfit. Black denim jackets qualify as smart blazers suitable for a party. You can notch things up by pairing black jeans with a black denim jacket for a double denim effect.

Pull off the double denim effect

Accessories make or break the look when it comes to carrying denim. Wear the jacket with a beanie to beat the chilly weather. In summer, wear it over a oral dress or jeans. Use stripes to layer the denim-on-denim look; bright accessories or neon shoes break the monotony of the effect. Try grey or black Chelsea boots to get a textural look.
Life may not be an easy breeze, but every- thing seems better with a denim jacket.
letters@khaleejtimes.com

Lettering helps play with fonts in a stylish manner adding to the charm to a jacket
Lettering helps play with fonts in a stylish manner adding to the charm to a jacket
Check out this 'Not Born to Follow' jacket that's been customised by Keith Vlahakis
Check out this 'Not Born to Follow' jacket that's been customised by Keith Vlahakis

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