Jordache Enterprises, Inc. was incorporated in 1978 by Israeli immigrant brothers Joseph, Ralph and Avi Nakash. The moniker is based on the brothers' names. Jordache is noted not only for tight-fitting designer jeans but also for a line of fashionable outerwear.
In 1962, Israeli immigrant Joseph Nakash came to New York with $25 in his pocket. He remained homeless for a while, then found work at $40 per week. Four years later, he brought over his brothers Ralph and Avi. In 1969, they opened a store to sell discount brand-name jeans, and soon expanded to four stores.
In 1977, fire and looting from the New York City blackout destroyed the brothers' largest store. They used their insurance money to start a designer jeans business, capitalizing on a consumer trend toward designer jeans like Calvin Klein.
The Jordache brand is known for its horse-head logo, tight fit and stitching on the rear pocket. In 1979, Jordache started an aggressive ad campaign to distinguish itself, using shock tactics such as an obviously topless “Lady Godiva” wearing only Jordache jeans.
While the major networks refused the ads, three local networks ran them. This helped propel Jordache into the limelight as purveyors of sexy jeans. The company followed up with an equally aggressive print campaign, overcoming Time's objections to advertise there.
In 1979, Jordache sold three million pairs of their roughly $35-a-pair jeans, for sales of $72 million.
In the 1980s, Jordache started expanding. The Nakashes licensed their brand, creating products as diverse as children's socks and jewelry.
In 1983, Jordache founded Yama Maritime, Inc., and put its logo on eight cargo ships. The company was selling $400 million worth of products a year. Jordache also bought a half share in Guess, Inc., owned by the Marciano brothers. Both parties subsequently fell out, accusing one another of fraud and theft; the lawsuit lasted seven years and cost $80 million in legal fees. Jordache settled and emerged from the deal with ownership of the Guess subsidiary Gasoline.
In 1986, customs raided the Jordache corporate offices, and days later their office in Hong Kong was raided, too. The matter was dropped, and a hearing suggested that the Marcianos of Guess, Inc., had used the officials in their battle against the Nakashes.
In 1990, Jordache acquired the Heck's Inc. chain of discount stores, ensuring a retail outlet for their products. They also released Looks, a perfume, in 1991, and started producing designer diapers in 1994.
Perhaps due to over-extension, and certainly thanks to the end of the designer-jean trend, the Jordache brand began to falter. The company had lost its reputation as a high-end jeans manufacturer, and its jeans were more likely to be bought by a laborer than a club-going fashionista.
In 2004, Jordache staged a 25th birthday comeback by launching the Jordache Vintage line, backed up by an advertising campaign reminiscent of their original, controversial lineup.
A year later they chose Brittany Murphy as their representative, followed by Elizabeth Hurley in 2006 and Heidi Klum in 2007. They also launched the designer line Jordache Legacy in 2007, selling jeans at high-end outlets for $80 to $100 a pair.
While the company boasts that its jeans are worn by Hollywood stars, some of their lines are now also available at Wal-Mart.
Today, Jordache manufactures jeans for high-end clothiers like Abercrombie & Fitch and the Gap, as well as owning several brands such as Earl Jeans, U.S. Polo Association and Fubu Ladies. It has other holdings not related to clothing, such as real estate, a private charter jet service and even the olive oil company Halutza.
While its future as a designer jeans company may not be assured, it seems likely that Jordache will continue to diversify and thrive.