A new denim documentary, “Blue Gold: American Jeans,” which was released on VOD, DVD and Blue Ray this week and makes it Los Angeles theatrical premiere today, explores the world’s fascination with jeans and what drives the $450 million in U.S. jeans sales a year.
Narrated by Edward Burns and featuring interviews with Tommy Hilfiger, Isaac Mizrahi, Daymond John, Daryl Hall, Marky Ramone, Judy Collins and Adriano Goldschmied, the film traces the history of jeans — from the American West to the beginning of Levi Strauss, through the Seventies designer jeans craze and expansion across the world — as well as the cultural impact jeans have had on rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Danish director Christian D. Bruun hit upon the idea for the film seven years ago when he went to the Rose Bowl flea market in Pasadena with a denim designer friend. “I saw this line of people ready to run through the gates at 4:30 a.m. — Japanese collectors and kids and designers. Months later I happened to be in Tokyo and went to a jeans auction and saw all the same guys. I wanted to figure out why Ralph Lauren would spend $50,000 on a pair of vintage jeans,” he said.
What he realized is that “the historical value of American cool gets translated to high-end fashion.”
Bruun followed jeans hunter and vintage expert Eric Schrader as he travels the world to show why jeans are the most desired and fetishized piece of clothing. “I found it most fascinating that all the little marks on old jeans, and all the stories they tell, get replicated by a high-end fashion brands who pay a lot to get that authenticity,” he said. “There’s something appealing in worn-out, dirty workwear that feeds a $9 billion industry.”
Ron Herman at Fred Segal was the first store in Los Angeles to sell European jeans, and The French Jeans Store in New York in 1972 started the designer jeans craze that was copied by Jordache, Calvin Klein and Gloria Vanderbilt. Among the myths Bruun uncovered were that cowboys never wore blue jeans; it was the Hollywood studios who put jeans on John Wayne, and in Bruun’s native Denmark, jeans are called cowboy pants.
“In what other documentary can you have Yo-Yo Ma, Marky Ramone and Adriano Goldschmied talking about the same thing?” he said.
Bruun also plans to release 50 short episodic clips from his 600 hours of interview footage on YouTube and social media each week. His next project is a documentary on Ruth Finley of The Fashion Calendar.
To see an exclusive clip, click here.