What happened to JNCOs: the rise and fall of wide jeans
An iconic brand
To a certain generation, JNCOs were an integral part of adolescence. For those who don’t remember the jeans, they were wide. Very wide.
And for a while, they ruled the world. It all started thanks to some Frenchmen in LA.
The beginning Of JNCOs
Jacques Yaakov Revah and Haim Milo Revah loved American culture when they were growing up in France, so it became their ambition to shape it. After founding Revatex Inc., the brothers primarily made private label goods for department stores. But they always dreamed about doing more.
According to a later article about the brand, Milo first saw wide-legged pants when walking through East LA. Inspired by the rave scene, he wanted to make an alternative to Levi’s and Lee jeans. JNCOs was born.
What does the name mean? That’s up for debate. Though some say it’s short for “Judge Now, Choose One,” others claim it translates to “Jean Company.” The brothers haven’t stated the origin on the record, and that cryptic branding may have been part of the appeal. But they still needed an image for their enigmatic brand, and that meant having a logo.
Getting the perfect logo for JNCOs
That’s where Nuke came in. He was a graffiti artist.
Revatex recruited a graffiti artist named Joseph Montalvo to draw their infamous crown logo. He went by Nuke. A member of a graffiti crew called SDD, Societies Dare Devils, as well as the unfortunately named UTI (for Using The Imagination), he brought instant credibility to JNCOs through his crown logo.
In many ways, Nuke’s work has endured longer than JNCOs. His career has spanned from street artist, to muralist, to set designer. You can follow him on Facebook because, unlike JNCOs, he has an active page. His colorful work shows the vitality he brought to the brand. And that just may have helped JNCOs take off.
The rise of JNCOs
The wide-legged pants were known as “raver pants” or “rave pants,” but they were also adopted by skaters and rebellious teenagers. Using underground promotional tactics, JNCOs pushed the wide pant from marginal to mainstream. But success itself was almost accidental.
When a retailer sold off their JNCO jeans due to bankruptcy, hotter and trendier boutiques like Gadzooks and Pacific Sunwear snatched them up. That kickstarted a fad. Sales soared from $36 million in 1995 to $66 million in 1996. The trend continued in 1997 and 1998, with sales of $136.1 million and $186.9 million. JNCOs weren’t just hot. They were on fire.
Even at the top, the French brothers were secretive as ever. In a 1998 article for Fortune, they refused to meet with the reporter, lest it damage their trendy cachet. Their lawyer refused to even answer if the brothers wore JNCO jeans. They were happy hiding.
But even their anonymity couldn’t keep the fad going forever.
JNCOs trips on its own wide legs
JNCOs had exponential growth but was doomed to fail in the trend-conscious market. For JNCOs, the fall was especially rapid.
By 1999, sales were halved. The JNCOs fad had started to fade, and retailers were blaming Revatex for their losses. In a February, 1999 article in the Wall Street Journal, Pac Sun and Gadzooks were both blaming losses on unsold JNCOs, with Gadzooks’s president calling them “dried up.” From there, the descent was quick. Revatex closed its factory in September, 2000.
Though Revatex dreamed of expanding its girls’ line, growing a boys’ line called Flamehead, and even creating branded TV properties, JNCOs was reliant on its wide-legged pants. A tighter leg meant ending the JNCOs reign. Flamehead was extinguished and the crown was gone.
There have been glimmers of JNCOs after that. Various redesigns and relaunches have occurred, but the brand hasn’t recaptured its 90s glory. And maybe it’s best that way, since it preserves the jeans for nostalgia. It’s easy to believe that somewhere there’s still a raver with 60″ pants, trying not to trip.