The History

MACKEEN WAS MY VERY FIRST AND VERY BEST PHOTO SHOOT - Jerry Hall

IT WAS 1970

From the very beginning, MacKeen – with its heavy quotient of glamour and style – was different from anything the industry had ever seen. Featuring premium fabrics and sophisticated cuts, MacKeen took the humble jean from the realm of duty to that of pure decadence. What was once the uniform of workers, cowboys and school kids was suddenly an object of desire among models, celebrities and social royalty. 

THE DESIGNER JEAN WAS BORN

And along with it, a brave new dress code. In the ensuing years, Fiorucci, Sasson, Jordache, and Gloria Vanderbilt among others would follow suit with their own versions, prompting the Washington Post to declare 1978 “the year of the status jean.” Bridge brands like these represented accessible luxury for consumers who could not afford to buy designer clothing.

Those who could , however, bought Mac Keen.

At a then stratospheric $65 per pair, the original designer jean was decidedly un-democratic. Brazilian photographer Paulo Rocha shot MacKeen on a young Jerry Hall. Later the supermodel would remember that shoot as one of her first and best. Farrah Fawcett and her fellow “Charlie’s Angels” as well as Brigitte Bardot and Jacqueline Bisset wore the jeans.

Steve McQueen and Alain Delon added their own brand of cool to the culture. They were among the many luminaries who frequented Mac Keen boutiques, including the Rodeo Drive location in Beverly Hills, where a Cartier store now stands. Countless other actors, rock stars and socialites purchased them at the exclusive French Jean Store in New York.

MACKEEN WAS A GLOBAL SENSATION IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD

Melding its innate French esthetic with American and U.K. sensibilities. After all, British export Jane Birkin was at the height of popularity in her adopted France, and she too wore Mackeen long before she became muse to Hermès. But nowhere was the label more visible than under the scintillating disco ball lights of Manhattan’s Studio 54. Wearing MacKeen was a guaranteed shortcut to the head of the lines that thronged the velvet ropes outside the club in its heyday.

All good things must come to an end, and so did Mackeen in 1983. In the ensuing years, original pairs became highly collectible and virtually impossible to find. Today, one of these remains on display in Paris’ Musée de la Mode et du Costume.

But Mackeens are no longer relegated to fashion’s archives. Designer denim history comes full circle in early 2014 when Mackeen debuts its re-launch the brand.

WHAT CAN A NEW GENERATION OF WORLD CITIZENS EXPECT FROM THIS RETURN?

The new Mackeen is not your parents’ Mackeen, nor is it a museum piece. Once again, the company is setting the standard for wearable luxury, but that means something different today than it did 40 years ago. Premium denim has evolved, so the bar has been set higher than ever. Mackeen is committed to delivering an exclusive product that seamlessly marries the past with the streetwear vibe of today.

First to launch will be a concise men’s collection designed to exude the luxury that has always been synonymous with the brand. Modern hardware and a new logo (replacing the old Union Jack-inspired one) will grace the jeans.