I Wore JNCO Jeans for Seven Days to Find Myself
'Everyone talks about how deadly you’ll look in JNCOs, but they fail to mention that you become a walking garbage zamboni.'
In the early 90s until about the mid 2000s ravers, goths, and the unemployable once wore extra wide leg pants as a fashion statement. The bigger the pant leg, the bigger the statement. JNCO jeans were one of the earliest and most infamous of the novelty pants brands. I wanted JNCO jeans when I was a kid. I went through a death metal, skateboarding, Anarchist Cookbook-reading phase, and JNCO jeans would have completed my uniform. But my mother loved me and forbid them in our home. Now, as an adult, I can put on whatever pants I want, so I bought some JNCO jeans, and wore them for seven days to see how my life could be different.
Getting into the JNCO "culture" turned out to be way more expensive than I thought. I assumed I could find a used pair from at a thrift shop, online, or wherever huffing supplies are sold. Turns out vintage JNCO jeans are collectors' items, with the dopest, widest leg versions selling for as much as $300 USD on eBay. I don't hate myself that much, so I went to thrift shops in my home city of Regina, Saskatchewan, and none of them carried the monstrous pantaloons I desired.
In the end, I ordered a pair of brand new, 50-inch-wide-leg "Crime Scenes" directly from JNCO headquarters in Los Angeles. The total cost after converting to Canadian money set me back $186.81. The pants arrived at my house in a tight bundle, which I didn't open for a few days as the dust of change settled onto my world. On January 20, 2017—the day Donald Trump took the oath of office as the President of the United States—I put my JNCO jeans on for the first time. Throughout my journey I interviewed as many people as I could, asking them, "Do you like these pants, yes or no?" I tallied the results to get an approval rating. Comments were gathered; shame was felt.
Day 1: Public speaking
In order to experience JNCO life to the fullest, I scheduled a number of events over the span of about two weeks. The first day, I was invited to perform at Grown Ups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, a podcast, which is self-explanatory. On day one with the pants I imagined the experience would be whimsical, but the moment the tent-like fabric hit my skin I knew I fucked up. As I dragged the heavy material through the snow, anxiety struck. The pockets were too deep. I immediately lost my phone and car keys in them, sealing my isolation. I arrived at the Artisan theatre to face a sold-out crowd of roughly 200 people to share a personal childhood moment while wearing two Jon Snows worth of pants. I paired my JNCO jeans with a red cardigan and white t-shirt combo on top.
14 people interviewed
50 percent approval rating
"Brave, bold. Reminds me of my raver days. Where is your candy? You're definitely missing that."
"Unnecessary leg design. I feel like pants are 80 percent function, 20 percent fashion. Those jeans fail at both. Sorry."
"Do you tuck them in your socks for biking?"
Day 2: The symphony
Classical music and fancy clothes go together like peanut butter and jelly. Incidentally, classical music and JNCO jeans go together like peanut butter and anaphylactic shock. I went to Per Sonatori Baroque Ensemble's Viola da Gamba. The viol (pronounced "vile") is a stringed instrument played with a bow dating back to the 1600s. Viola da gamba, a cello-sized version of the instrument, translates from Italian to mean something like "viol of the legs." Speaking of vile legs, I was the only person wearing JNCO jeans at the symphony. I sat in the balcony of Regina's prestigious Knox-Metropolitan Church listening to the music of intellectuals. I felt enlightened. I brought my wife. She did not sit with me.
10 people interviewed
40 percent approval rating
"It's kind of jarring."
"Nü metal to the extreme."
"I thought you were wearing a skirt."
Day 3: A walk downtown
Downtown Regina is essentially designed after JNCO jeans: a shock to the senses and mostly empty. This was the toughest day. I was frozen with anxiety standing at the entrance of the Cornwall Centre, Regina's aptly named central mall. It took me 20 minutes to convince myself to approach people to ask them about my pants. And then tragedy struck. I saw someone I knew from high school. He is a police officer now, and he was dressed in a crisp uniform and escorting a youth in handcuffs. As they walked by, recognition flashed in the cop's eyes. He scanned my lower half cloaked in JNCO mysteries. I can honestly say, my old friend looked more concerned for me and my pants than for the kid he had in handcuffs. Even that troubled youngster shook his head in disapproval. Best I could manage to say was, "It's for a thing," as the two passed.
20 people interviewed
25 percent approval rating
"I'd be worried about going on an escalator."
"I love them. I have the same ones."
"You look like you're going to kill me."
Day 4: Hanging out with friends
At this point, my pants had already gathered a lot of grime. Everyone talks about how deadly you'll look in JNCOs, but they fail to mention that you become a walking garbage zamboni. My pants brought me to a gathering with my best friends for a Super Mario Strikers tournament. This was the closest I could come to actual physical activity in pants. This was the easiest JNCO experience because my friends accept me for who I am on the inside. They saw through my "Crime Scenes," with their cavernous pockets and ice salt stained hems. My Strikers team, The Christ Punchers, placed second in the tournament, all while I was swaddled in a JNCO blanket. I ate cheese dips and moshed to Linkin Park. These were the pants of my youth, the pants of my soul.
12 people interviewed
60 percent approval rating
"I love that you're wearing them. If you said, 'Nik, what would it take for you to wear these pants?' A death threat, probably. I would have to fear for my life."
"They remind me of times past. Simpler times. Angrier times. Mixed emotions."
"These are literally the worst things I've ever seen."
Day 5: Date night
My wife, Jill, was not looking forward to this day. I took her to Nest, a swanky piano lounge. Upon realizing it's a seat-yourself venue, Jill rushed me to a back booth. I distinctly heard someone say, "that guy's pants," as we dashed by a table. I ordered a steak sandwich because I earned it. Jill drank beer. Service was great, and I got the waitress to take a photo of my lady, me, and the pants. The waitress snapped the photo as if this were a regular request at Nest, which should be commended for normalizing the JNCO lifestyle.
0 percent approval rating
"It was very embarrassing. Never have I walked so quickly from the entrance to my seat. The only highlight is we saw no one that we knew. You owe me."
Day 6: Construction work
During this journey of self-discovery, we found mold damage in a section of our basement, which had to be gutted. This project has cost us thousands of dollars and I am just thankful I was able to buy my JNCO jeans before we desperately needed the money. It was time to paint walls, so I put on my pants and got to work.
The pants quickly amassed several paint stains and knocked over a few things in their path. My wife made me stop, so I played video games instead. Thank you, JNCO jeans.
0 percent approval rating
Day 7: University lecture
I was invited to the University of Regina English Department to speak to students about my life as an important pants wearing person. The title of my lecture was It's All In the Pants: How to be a Famous Freelance Writer. I was expecting a full lecture hall at my alma mater, but only about 10 people showed up in a small classroom to check out my body swathed by the skin of 40 dead ravers. I talked to them about the importance of being bold in life and work, gesturing to the train of denim flowing from my lower half. The class had no questions about my JNCO jeans, likely because they are self-explanatory.
3 people by show of hands
33 percent approval rating
Devin Pacholik is on Twitter.