When it comes to advertising, it’s all in the details. And for designer and Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) chairman Tom Ford, those details are emblazoned on some of the most provocative areas of a pair of jeans.
In a recent interview with GQ promoting his second book, “Tom Ford 002,” Ford explained that logos are best placed “somewhere someone’s gonna look.”
Jeans within his men’s and women’s collections feature his initials “TF” at the tip of the crotch—an element that playfully distinguishes his designs from other labels. Back pockets are another common area for Ford: His branding details have ranged from a black-and-white “Tom Ford” label to “TF” stitching placed on jeans’ back pockets.
His reasoning echoes his penchant for sexually driven garments and advertisements, which have included the notorious 2007 campaign showing a model with a bottle of Tom Ford men’s cologne wedged between her breasts, and later, between her legs.
“Everyone looks at everyone’s crotch,” he told GQ. “When you’re wearing a pair of jeans, people look at other people’s butts.”
Advertisements—specifically those that promote denim—have a track record for appealing to consumers’ primal desires. Denim and sex have been linked as far back as the 1950s, when icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando wore the garment as a form of rebellion. Since then, designers and brands like Guess and Calvin Klein have escalated that energy and debuted ads that often ignited criticism from viewers who felt they went too far.
While sometimes intended to provoke, the concept of adding a branding element to jeans’ backsides originated from necessity. Levi’s signature “red tab” was developed in 1936— 63 years after the blue jean was first invented—for market researchers to more easily identify the brand from afar. From then on, the marking was stitched into 501s and the tagline “Look for the Red Tab” was often included in advertisements during the 1940s and 1950s. The label has since become a signature element that’s celebrated by denim heads with knowledge of its origin.
Ford’s boundary-pushing designs have garnered a fanbase of celebrities and fashion-lovers alike. His F/W 20-21 knee-grazing patchwork jean skirt worn with a shearling jacket and matching denim shoulder bag by Gigi Hadid was the most viewed look on Paris-based search engine Tagwalk during New York Fashion Week in 2020.