Designer jeans have plenty of tricks to get you in their pants

With wishes for good karma, Tibetan monk Geshe Gyeltsen chants over every 35th Street pair.
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

BACK when the jean pool was but a mere puddle, denim sold itself on fit and cut and signature back pockets. Jeans didn’t claim to cure Lyme disease or make foamy lattes. But lately -- with more than 100 brands of premium denim vying for your backside -- designers will stop at nothing to get you in their pants.

Seeking enlightenment and a “divine” derriere? Try the 35th Street jean from Bishop of Seventh. Each pair is blessed by Tibetan monk Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen with wishes for good health, happiness and prosperity. “I’m not sure exactly what he says because he chants in Tibetan,” says Bishop of Seventh co-founder Chachi Prasad, who worked with Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta before he and his wife launched their own collection. “But it takes him about 45 minutes.” And I thought I was the only one who prayed over my jeans to make them fit.

Stitch’s jeans, with fans in Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, take even longer to achieve denim self-actualization. Like fine wines, they’re aged -- in denim parlance, that means washed and roughed up repeatedly to look like they survived a tsunami and a polar bear attack. Stitch’s twist? The pants are aged in antique redwood barrels at an old laundry facility in Wyoming. (FYI: I soaked my Stitch’s jeans in Cab Franc and wrung them out over a decanter at my last dinner party. Now, my husband wants a pair too.)

Other come-ons include ProportionofBlu jeans, which use the Golden Ratio -- a mathematical equation that informed the structure of the Great Pyramids and the Parthenon -- to determine the position of the rivets and pockets. “Most things that fall into those proportions are beautiful to the human eye,” explains co-designer Terrell Wick.

Trying to understand phi while wriggling into skinny jeans could cause a seizure, so other designers rely on design ploys instead. Alexander Wang now offers waterproof Stormy Weather denim -- great for seal trainers -- and a Brazilian company just debuted ultra low-rise skinny jeans with a built-in thong. With the actual waistline of the jeans starting just below the hipbones, these trashy pants make you look like you can’t decide whether to get fully dressed or get arrested.

But the most audacious gimmick comes courtesy of A.P.C. and its Butler Worn Out jeans, which hit stores this week. Here’s how it works: You buy a pair of jeans that someone else has already worn religiously to soften, stretch and fade the denim in all the right places. You’ll even receive the previous owner’s initials written inside. In essence, you get a pair of hand-me-downs without the hair pulling or the sibling rivalry.

Of course, all this ingenuity doesn’t come cheap. Most of these jeans sell for more than $200. So much for that prosperity.