“You wanna know what comes between me and my Clavin’s? Nothing.”  This infamous quote by Brooke Shields was part of the “Nothing comes between me and my Calvin’s.” advertising campaign of the early 1980’s for Calvin Klein Jeans.  The ad shows a young Shields sitting in what must have been an extremely uncomfortable position for her, but it left her in a completely exposed and implicitly seductive pose.  Various other ads similar to the one in which I viewed, have Shields doing all sorts of things in her Calvin’s from discussing topics of Natural Selection to the camera, to squirming her way into a skin-tight pair of dark Calvin Klein Jeans, to talking about her irresponsible spending of her rent money (Calvin’s first, rent later) while doing what looks like simple math as she strokes the seams on her dark blue Calvin’s while on her back.  The position is very weird and would invoke sexual thoughts with male viewers.
The whole point of this ad campaign, which was both on film and in print, was started in the early 1980’s was really simple; Shields was selling the jeans to women, with the idea of “If you buy Calvin Klein Jeans, you can be as scandalously sexy as a 14 year old girl.”  The other side of the ad was geared towards men, so that they would want their wives or girlfriends to buy Calvin Klein Jeans due to the sex appeal the ads had on males.

Even though the ad campaign has nothing to do with soap, this quote from Barthes can be related to the Calvin Klein Jean ads from the 1980’s, “As for foam, it is well known that it signifies luxury.” ( page 37 ) When you think of old jeans, typically one thinks of jeans that have been worn lighter because of the many washes and the daily abuse that they see.  In the ads, the jeans are very very dark blue, which invoke a feeling of luxury that would surround the Calvin Klein Jean brand, which in addition to the sex appeal, was exactly what the brand was attempting to do; show that you can have these name brand jeans, and you’ll look sexy and higher class because of them too.

The Calvin Klein Jean ads can be seen at these links:

Print:  http://bethostylista.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/brooke.jpg

Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK2VZgJ4AoM

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One response »

  1. Michael K. Johnson says:

    You might go further here with the idea of luxury. The “name” itself (and the recognition that the “name” is attached to expensive clothing) is part of what signifies luxury, class, prestige. When these ads were first coming out, prestige clothing companies were looking to find ways to change the image of jeans–which originally signified just the opposite, as jeans were working class, comfortable, everyday items. Thanks to “designer jeans,” you could pay three times as much for the same fabric!

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