What ever happened to Joe Bloggs jeans? I thought they were here to stay. I was happy to ditch the X Works ones I’d worn for my confirmation in lieu of my first pair of Bloggs: red denims. They were the business. The trademark strip of light coloured material with Bloggs stitching that ran down the thigh of one leg was my passport to what I perceived as haute-couture. My second pair were green. I was in my element. I had wanted them for months.
As was usual in the case of fashion during my childhood, I was a year or so behind the curve. In the case of Nike runners, it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I had my first pair. And even at that, mine were Cross Trainers not Air Max, my first pair of Air Max came along at age 30. We got out first video player around ’95 when I was 14. Bear in mind that VHS had been out since the 70’s. Now you see what I mean. For the record, we still don’t have wifi at home.
Another trophy first was my Umbro jumper. You know the one – grey with a half-zip and navy Umbro lettering on the front. I became a proud owner in or around second year of secondary school and it meant I was catching up on the cool gang. Growing up in Tallaght I watched on while we came through the age of Soothers (necklace pendants: the more you wore the cooler you were with some people walking around doubled up under the weight of dozens of plastic dummies), Scrunchies (the aim was to go large: have the pony dead centre on the top of your head with about eleven velour scrunchies casting it skywards to antennae lengths), Soverigns (people took an ambidextrous approach and wore gold sovereign rings on multiple fingers on both hands – moderation was not in vogue) and Scanda jackets. I may reflect on Soothers, Scrunchies and Soverigns with the vague care of someone who has just missed a bus but is aware that it wasn’t the one they actually wanted, but when Scandas are involved, I have to say that was my bus. I hopped on board the Scanda movement.
My investment took the form of a purple one, with a lime green net lining in the body and the hood and a cerise pink trim. Mine was the only purple one at school. For context, there was an unwritten code that if someone in your class got one in a certain colour, you could not duplicate. The twins had yellow and red, Angie had turquoise, Eileen had a green one. The trick was to hop on this trend as soon as you could. There are only so many colours in the spectrum and nobody likes plagiarism. I withdrew all my post office savings and made the biggest purchase of my life yet. It cost £110, which was astronomical for me. But it is an investment that has paid off.
A full twenty five years after taking the plunge, I am still wearing it and I still love it. Let’s face it, it’s a coat for hiking. In Tallaght in 1993, I didn’t do a whole lot of hill-walking, save for the odd ramble up to the bridge in Séan Walsh Park on my way to or from The Square. I’ve since brought it up Carrauntoohil, Slieve Donard, Ben Nevis and it knows the slope of Croagh Patrick as well as myself at this stage. It could find the summit on its own. It’s a purple coat built for all ages apparently. It was with me in youth, will remain with me through middle years and who knows, I may still cling to it when the time comes and my limbs are too weary to carry me any longer. I do wish I’d held onto my Joe Bloggs though. There was something about those jeans.