Saturday, April 17, 2004


Rise of the low-waister
Aditi Garg

THE lone crusader that seems to span all ages and tastes even in the time of individualism is the true blue piece of clothing; the good old pair of jeans. It survived through grunge and hip-hop; through the two world wars and, most of all, it survived the human desire for change. It pulled through all this and more because of its versatility and its ability to adapt itself to the wearer. Ever since Levi Strauss rolled out the very first pair as sturdy wear for miners and heavy workers in the 1850s, they have not enjoyed as much clout as they do now. From labourers to supermodels, it certainly has been a roller-coaster ride for jeans.

When we look all around us and see PYTs (pretty young things) in jeans that start way below the navel, we realise that after the cleavage was done to death by overexposure, butt-cleavage paved the way for faithful fashion followers. In the ‘have it; flaunt it’ scenario, there is no stopping anyone. Parents are wary of approaching the topic; God forbid if the brat pack turns rebellious, it might snowball into something they had not bargained for.

It may be a very good idea for the young and the skinny to get to exhibit their vital statistics in a very fashionable manner but God help the horizontally challenged. As if squeezing into a pair of bottom-scorchers (hip-hugging, if you please) wasn’t bad enough, we now have nothing to corset our tummy into. Admiring someone enviably in rock-bottom low-jeans is one thing and resisting the itch to pull up one’s own at every fleeting glimpse in any reflective surface is quite another. It was initially despised by many when they entered the market via music videos that bordered on soft porn. Soon it became unavoidable either because it gradually grew on them or because they considered denim to be their second skin and they had no choice but to buy it when the big brands simply stopped producing the navel hiding variety.

The low-slung jean has been a fashion statement like no other. Finding a pair that fits and finding one that flatters are a different ball game altogether. Fitting into a size 26 or 28 if you are actually a size 30, might be a mental consolation but it does no good for the tummy roll on top of the low-waister and for your bunched-up bottom. It might be easier than before to struggle with the zipper and get it to close because they rarely exceed one and a half to two inches. But that sure has its drawbacks. As a close friend, who had recently brought back a very hip pair of low-slungs from the US, confided, "The zipper is barely an inch, preceded by a set of buttons, and to my embarrassment I occasionally forget to zip it up, only to be reminded by someone else."

The Los Angles Times fittingly put it as the single most potent symbol of American style on earth. And as with other things American, the world embraces them with all their shortcomings, the tummy roll notwithstanding.