JEANS: THE PURE SIGNIFIERS


In communication, one should learn to handle signs with care, and learn how to recognize and use them depending on the context, avoiding mistaken assumptions, and taking for granted knowledge that is not necessarily possessed by the receiver, thus creating an ambiguous, if not misleading message.

Here’s an example in fashion: jeans.

Jeans were sturdy trousers used by workers up to the mid-19th century, when they were popularized by the film “The Wild One”, starring the mesmeric Marlon Brando.


Jeans, as depicted by Ugo Volli, are pure signifiers, in other words, signs that can acquire any meaning.

With a few accessories and slight variations, they can turn from work clothes into an evening outfit and from civvies to holiday wear.

Jeans can be anything from rough, seductive, innovative, classic, for men on the go or for sexy women, worn for work or leisure, connoting seduction or comfort, alluding to easy sex or holidays with the family.

Jeans are worn by the young professional with a jacket and tie when he wishes to show he is not completely part of the system (yet).

Jeans are worn as a second skin by the girl with a lamè bodice for an evening full of romance or transgression.

Jeans are worn by the primary school kid, the baby girl in the stroller, the 60-year-old who never surrenders to age and feels like a 20-year-old still at war with the 1968 revolution.


Jeans can be worn with a sweater for a night out at the pizza house, with a T-shirt for a countryside outing or for garden work, with a silk shirt and jewellery for a trendy appetizer, with a jacket for a stroll with friends.

Light-coloured or dark, with pre-made rips and holes, more or less faded, ragged or tight jeans, each of these features changes the way we wish to communicate with others.

JEANS: THE PURE SIGNIFIERS JEANS: THE PURE SIGNIFIERS Reviewed by Polisemantica on 3:32:00 PM Rating: 5

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