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#TBT: How Christine Rucci Got Bitten by the Denim Bug and a Swan

Throwback photos stir up laughs, memories and—for denim heads—a wealth of vintage denim inspiration. This weekly column on Rivet asks individuals in the denim industry to take a look back and reminisce about a denim moment in time captured on film.

This week, denim expert and president of Godmother NYC Christine Rucci explains how it was her first W magazine, which included an ad for Ralph Lauren Roughwear, that inspired her to pursue a career in denim. She made a promise to herself in 1981 that she would one day work for the company.

Today, she celebrates 37 years in the denim industry and serves as a consultant for top designer brands and start-ups focusing on local and sustainable denim manufacturing. Her design experience stretches across household names such as DKNY Jeans, Tommy Hilfiger and, just as she intended, Ralph Lauren.

Christine Rucci, denim expert and founder of Godmother NYC Inc.

For me design is literally in my genes—my great grandmother, an Italian immigrant, came to America in the early 1900s and worked in the New York City garment district as a seamstress.

Having attended Catholic school, I would walk home in my uniform and yearned to wear Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler like the other kids. I begged my parents for pair of jeans, but could only wear them for hikes and family outings.

This photo was taking during one of those outings in the early 1970s at Sterling Forest Gardens in Tuxedo, N.Y. If you look closely, I’m holding my arm with a cloth because a swan had attacked me for getting too close to its nest. But I’m doing it in style! I’m wearing raw Wrangler Broken Twill jeans (which I later cut into short shorts in high school).