There are loose-fitting and relaxed fit jeans, and then there are baggy saggy jeans. People wearing baggy jeans often wear them low enough to show a strip of underwear, sometimes belting them below the buttocks to allow a full view of the backside. The invention of the baggy saggy jean style and its subsequent wave of popularity are subject to a certain amount of debate, though it is clear that street culture and hip hop made baggy saggy jeans the go-to style for many teenagers and young adults.
The birth of the baggy look can be attributed to a few influences. One key stylistic predecessor was prison uniforms. Inmates were not permitted to wear belts, making their pants hang lower. According to nba.com, Michael Jordan and other athletes who, tired of wearing very short uniforms, began wearing baggy basketball shorts. Skaters and surfers were also wearing baggier cuts to carve out their style. Hip hop fans and inner city youth picked up on these style experiments and began to purchase jeans one or two sizes larger than usual.
The baggy saggy jeans that rose up from the underground styles of the 1990s did not hit mainstream notice until hip hop rose to prominence over grunge music. These early baggy jeans prototypes tended toward more basic blue jeans. The leg was long and the wash medium blue. Most styles did not feature the distressed looks, fancy embroidering on the pockets, color washes and other designer details seen on contemporary baggy jeans. The key design elements was that the waistband measure several sizes larger than your actual waist.
It wasn't long before the baggy saggy jeans street style was co-opted by the fashion industry. The Gap and Old Navy released their versions of baggy saggy jeans, often featuring a relaxed fit through the crotch area. Tommy Hilfiger tried his take on making baggy saggy jeans work for the preppie crowd. His Urban Prep line featured baggy denim coupled with white button-down shirts.
There was no greater measure of the popular impact of baggy saggy jeans that its effect on the Levi's jean corporation. When Levi's decided not to follow the baggy jean trend, it saw a dramatic decline in profits, with sales down 15 percent within two years. It was only the introduction in the late 1990s of the low-rise and bootcut jeans that created a dent in this iconic style's success.
Before you rush out to purchase those baggy saggy jeans, be forewarned. These days, many school districts are banning them from schools, calling them indecent. Some towns and cities have gone as far as introducing laws against wearing baggy jeans. In Delcambre, Louisiana, there are ordinances in place that make the wearing of baggy saggy jeans an offense with a fine of $500 or up to a six-month jail sentence. Other cities are attempting for follow suit, with stringent opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union. What may be far more dangerous to the baggy saggy jeans trend is that many hip hop artists, such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Pharrell, have been spotted in skinnier, more fitted styles.