Fashions: Beyond the Blues Horizon

Sales slip, Levi's hunkers down, and jeans fade out

It was a sea change, or, at the very least, like watching the water lighten close to shore. "An ocean of blue": that was the standard bird's-eye description of a rock concert, with the audience all fitted out in denim. Now, from a similar perspective, the whole palette has changed, run off into so many hues that rock-crowd colors look like what's left in the bottom of the dish after the banana split has melted.

Jeans became a cultural uniform in the '60s. By 1980 lots of big-shot fashion designers were slapping a logo,...

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