US denim brand Wrangler has launched the Icons collection: six of its classic jeans models with a more than 70-year history have been redesigned. We talked to Wrangler’s creative director Sean Gormley about the relaunch and why Wrangler cherishes its past.
So what is Wrangler's Icons collection all about?
Every icon has an origin story. With roots going back to 1904 as a workwear company, Wrangler was born in 1947 to serve the Western cowboy market. Within two short decades, a cultural revolution had changed the world and Wrangler had moved with it. What had started as functional utility wear, designed to withstand rugged work, soon became the uniform of the youth movement. Created for rodeo riders and ranch hands, Wrangler was adopted by trailblazers and rock stars and throughout its history: the authentic all-American denim icon has created era-defining style. There are six iconic products, reissued and restyled for today.
They are definitive, cult icons, from the 124MJ jacket, which became the archetypal denim jacket, to the 27MW Western shirt, created for cowboys but embraced by rock stars. Wrangler reissues the authentic 11MWZ, our first jean and the original slim fit cowboy cut, and reimagines a women’s style. Wrangler introduces five denim options to give Icons a unique edge–all with different stages of wear and fade, from New to 3 years washes.
How did you approach the redesign of these iconic pieces to give them a modern touch?
Wrangler revisions in a modern way the design of its origins. The same design that has been standing the test of time, with new standards, in terms of quality, functions and style:
- The 11MWZ men’s Western zipper was Wrangler’s first jean, launched in 1947, and the original slim fit cowboy cut. For the 2019 reissue, the original’s exaggerated “kick” (originally cut generously to fit over a cowboy boot) is streamlined, with the same slim profile.
- the timeless design of the denim jacket: The sleeves are slimmed, and the body is slightly lengthened, but the proportions are true to the original, as is the positionig of the heritage tobacco stitching, rounded pocket flaps and copper buttons.
- the Western shirt created for cowboys but embraced by rock stars, this shirt launched in the mid Sixties, becoming the blueprint for the Western-style shirt. Wrangler reissues the original, with authentic detailing–the shape and depth of the yokes, cuffs and plackets are all faithful, as is the color and positioning of the stitching, and it recreates iconic details such as the W pocket stitching and pearl snaps.
How can Wrangler bring the message through to young consumers who might not even have any connection to the lifestyle and the celebs that have worn these iconic pieces back in the day?
We communicate actively with the younger generation through a strong presence in social media and strong marketing activations. We’ve hosted a pop-up in London, a brand experience space. We recreated a functional recording space, with instruments and equipment, to experience the magic of the session room where great tracks are made. We’ve hosted a series of celebrations, in-store sessions, jam nights and livestreams–bands could just drop in and play. For the Icons of the future.
In your opinion: how big can the whole "vintage/real denim" (buying jeans at flea markets, going for non-stretch-authentic pieces) trend become?
Every generation has had a love affair with denim–this amazing fabric with a legacy that's interwoven into our global culture and individual spirit.
I'm excited because I see the next generation is interested in authenticity and respond really well to heritage stories which tell you about the history of a brand like Wrangler. Wrangler is an expert and a specialist, with a wealth of stories to tell.
What's the near future of denim–and shouldn't jeans brands rather work on innovative design and material concepts instead of referring to the past?
Jeans brands need to do both in my opinion. The Icons range is a celebration of the past and it gives us the chance to tell one global heritage story to our consumers. However, it's not intended to be a heritage story. Icons is a vehicle for innovation. We plan to deliver innovation within the Icons platform–very excited for that.