The 2000s Denim Trend That No One's Doing Anymore

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
In recent years, denim has decided to not be so boring. Gone are the days of simple skinny jeans. Instead, subtle rips, frayed edges, or — for those who dare — sequins decorate the fronts and bottoms of our favorite pairs of denim. The thing is, though, the backside of said pants has become all about sublety. No more embellished logos, super-bold stitching, or colorful designs that add flair and show off just what brand we can't get enough of. But why? Why have our jean back pockets gotten so boring? Dressing today may be all about minimalism, but we're missing the decorated denim of yesteryear big-time.

We think it's time brands started looking back at the embroidered pocket. For some inspiration, we've compiled nine of the most iconic ones. They have us reminiscing about our middle and high school days and wanting to dig through our childhood closets for that old-school pair of True Religion flares — stat. You know you want to, too.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Gloria Vanderbilt
In the '70s, then-52-year-old socialite Gloria Vanderbilt decided she was going to create one of the first lines of designer jeans for women who were looking to mix high fashion with the versatility and wearability of denim. The resulting items weren't just more tight-fitting and curve-accentuating than the other options on the market at that time — they also featured Vanderbilt's signature, scribbled in red, smack-dab in the middle of the right back pocket. Vanderbilt's label was one of the earliest examples of how a designed jean pocket can have an extreme affect on brand sales. People didn't just want to be like — and dress like — Vanderbilt; they wanted others to know just whose jeans they were wearing.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
In August of 1990, Franco Moschino sent a flurry of jeans down the runway that featured fake-leather peace sign patches on the backside. "For fall, the line is influenced by the '60s, and it is very focused on the issue of the environment," Liana Bartoloni, a sales agent for the house, told the LA Times that year. "And he's showing a lot of hearts, peace signs, and teddy bears. Some people think he means all this ironically. But he really does believe that love makes the world go round." The cheekiness of the peace sign is, of course, unsurprising, given the house's past (and present, under the boundary-pushing leadership of Jeremy Scott). And though it was subtle, the peace sign pocket became a high-fashion denim signature that is still recognizable (and purchasable) today.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
When Hidehiko Yamane launched Evisu in 1991, it seemed like he knew his jeans were going to make a splash in the denim world; he did, after all, paint the colorful seagull on the right back pocket of each hand. There were subtle iterations of the design (a simple whitewash) and insanely wild ones (a special-edition dragon drawing, an homage to Hello Kitty and her bows). Nevertheless, the foundation of the design has continued to reign supreme — even as the company has gone through many rebranding efforts. Now, under the direction of Paper Denim & Cloth founder Scott Morrison, the label has gotten a makeover that has its grunge factor — and its painted seagulls, among other decorations — going strong.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Seven For All Mankind
If you attended middle or high school in the mid-to-early aughts, chances are you had to have at least one pair of Sevens. Launched in Los Angeles in the beginning of the decade, Seven For All Mankind catered to those looking for a well-made, reliable pair of jeans that maintained a laid-back, California-cool aesthetic. The jeans instantly became a hit, thanks in particular to their huge variety of shapes, cuts, and washes. They essentially paved the way for a major influx of high-end jeans throughout the 2000s. And, while the brand name alone conjures up tons of style memories, the brand's many signature back-pocket designs — from the "A" to the rope squiggle — are incredibly recognizable. At times, they were even jazzed up with Swarovski crystals or metallic paint. Though the embroidery is much more subtle, Seven's designs still remain on the jeans today.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Rock & Republic
Inspired by rock-and-roll and rebellion, denim line Rock & Republic sported embellished crowns and many variations of the label's double Rs, including back-to-back ones interlocked with an ampersand. When these jeans hit the scene in 2002, they were it — and were spotted on the likes of Jessica Alba and Victoria Beckham (who designed a bejeweled collection of jeans for the brand). Nowadays, R&R may no longer be at the top of the denim market, but those pockets will always make our teenage selves smile.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Antik Denim
You may not remember the name Antik Denim, but you definitely recall its heavily-embroidered back pockets, which graced the behinds of everyone from Lindsay Lohan to Kate Hudson when the line launched in 2004. Today, the brand is hard to come across (save for an array of eBay sales), but we will never forget the triangle-meets-fleur-de-lis-meets-diamonds-meets-who-knows-what-else pattern that made it so iconic in the denim world in the first place.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
True Religion
Two years after the Seven For All Mankind boom, True Religion hit the scene; the company's CEO even thanked Sevens for "creating basically the [premium denim] category" in 2005. Marketing itself through its "Super T stitch" and now trademarked "U-Shape" back-pocket design (that is essentially a horseshoe supposedly inspired by "the silhouette of a Buddha's smile"), the label created a signature aesthetic that is arguably one of the most recognizable denim embroideries in history. It also became a serious must-have for women in the mid-2000s, leading to tons of copycats. But the True Religion legacy is nowhere near over; in fact, the brand issued a lawsuit against Burlington Coat Factory just last year over an eerily similar replica of its design.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Abercrombie & Fitch
This simple etching seemingly defined a generation — and though it fell out of popularity with teens for a bit, Abercrombie & Fitch (particularly its denim) is back in full force. Its design, two intersecting arches, graced the back pockets of all jeans produced by A&F — and also fell under legal scrutiny for looking too similar to Levi's. One look at these lines, and we're immediately transported to our teenage years.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Seafarer
Need proof that it's officially time denim stopped being so boring? Enter: The Seafarer. Back in the '60s, Seafarers were the denim go-to for fashion It Girls like Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot. In 2013, under the direction of Massimiliano Tabacchi, the brand was revamped and relaunched — with some seriously cool back-pocket designs and patches. Pulling inspiration from its original aesthetic (which has even been dubbed museum-worthy), Seafarer's new collection of vintage-inspired, wildly eclectic, printed denim pockets is bound to become a staple in no time — and maybe even pave the way for more crafty and creative backsides.

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